Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dreading the holidays? Why?

More and more, year after year, I hear people discuss the period from Thanksgiving through New Year's -- and other observances in between -- with emotions ranging from sad resignation to utter dread.

On Sunday, a TV talking head said something along the line of, "The holidays will be here too soon ..." We've all heard folks lament the hectic pace of planning events, shopping or double-booking social calendars. Does anyone enjoy the holiday season anymore? Time was, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, etc., were events to anticipate positively. Something to enjoy.

Whatever happened to that?

Now, when conversation turns to the holidays, folks commiserate and compare their levels of stress and frustration. The holidays should be a time for celebrating, for relaxing with friends and family, for reflecting on the blessings that have come our way.

Sure, some of those things can require effort and preparation. I'm not calling for the abolition of gift exchanges, holiday cards or parties. I'm not suggesting that folks stay away from the mall or shops.

But do we have to try to do it all? And do it all by a particular date?

If a greeting card arrives Dec. 28 or Jan. 4, is that a big deal? A nice gift certificate instead of scouring the stores for the "perfect" present? Do all holiday parties have to be jammed into the December calendar? As best I know, my columns and posts have an unblemished record of never changing anyone's mind on anything. Yet, who knows?

What if we gave ourselves permission to relax and not sweat the details? The holidays might again be something to look forward to, not just something to endure.

1 comment:

KL Snow said...

I think the divorce generation has a lot to do with this. As the recently engaged son of divorced parents, I frequently end up running the holiday gauntlet. Last year, I did six Christmas celebrations (one with each parent, one with each extended family, then both halves of my fiancee's family) in six cities in five days. It's good to see everyone and share the spirit of the season, but by the end it feels like a week-long marathon with frequent stops to be stuffed with cookies. I can only imagine how much harder it will get when I've got young children to worry about as well.

And of course, no Christmas diatribe would be complete without a tip of the cap to retailers who reward shoppers for going out at the craziest possible times (5 am on the day after Thanksgiving, for example), and encourage them to fight the largest possible crowds for this season's gifts while holiday music drones on endlessly in the background.

But if those holiday experiences aren't enough, mainstream society is doing its best to make sure the community gets an extended holiday season in which to enjoy them. Christmas lights were up in Maquoketa before Halloween this year, and the department stores already have the Christmas music playing at full blast.