Friday, December 18, 2009

I Don't Mean to be a Scrooge, but

Let me start with a disclaimer. I love Christmas. I love presents. I love food. I love sparkly twinkling lights. But there are many things about the modern American observance of Christmas that drive me crazy.

Today my newspaper had an article about some families in the area who had decked out their houses with so many lights it looked like a scene from that movie with Mathew Broderick and Danny DeVito, Deck the Halls. Seriously. Now, the article was a nice one that encouraged people to drive around a view all these lovely lights. When I read it, not only was I aghast at the sheer gaudiness of it all, I was astounded at how ridiculous these homes looked with so many lights. And here's what bothered me: gas is $2.69 a gallon last time I filled up, not to mention it pollutes like the dickens. And the author of the article wants us to go drive around to see these lights? Second, think of all the electricity, money, and time spent on these displays. How much good could these families have done if they had put all that energy, money, and time into helping their fellow human beings? To their credit, one family asked everyone who came to their home to see the lights to make a charitable donation. Good for them.

The other day, Melissa and I were at Target. I've made it quite clear that I hate shopping, right? But I went with her, because I was in a rare shopping mood. But I have to say, everything at Target just reeked with sameness. Homogeneity. Plastic trash. I just was not inspired by anything there. It was all so...I don't know...useless. I confess that when I shop I prefer local businesses, but Target is one of my preferred chain stores in general. Yet, that day, I was struck with visual images of 25 dresses all exactly the same lined up on a rack. I had a very hard time feeling the joy.

My husband's Christmas party was last night. At times, depending on who plans the party, they can have a rollicking good time. One year they had a swing band and we stayed and danced until we closed down the party. In the early years, we had entertainment, like a high school choir or a short Christmas play. I liked that. Partly because I hate going to parties where I know very few people and I am expected to sit and chat with them like they're my long lost cousins, especially when the noise level is approximately the same as the runway when F-15s take off. But not this year. This year, we had a nice, but boring, meal at an exclusive club. That's it. A meal. No entertainment. No music. Not even a cheesy gift or the tiny bit of happy anticipation that you might win the centerpiece at your table. Okay, I realize we're in a recession and that the firm needs to keep expenses to a minimum. I"m all for that. I'd rather have a fun party with no dinner than an awkward dinner with people I don't even know.

Now, the party we had after the Christmas at the Cathedral, that was fun. Of course, I knew all the people, so that helped.

I guess my point is that I would rather have Christmas be less gaudy, less strained conversation with strangers, and less commercial crap. I have tried to fill my time with family, friends, and an occasional foray into the shops. I want to bake cookies, drink tea, and hope for snow. I want to sing Silent Night in the candlelight on Christmas Eve.

I hate to sound like a Scrooge, but maybe I am. Or maybe I have it figured out and the rest of the country just needs to catch up. I'm not saying those families don't enjoy hanging all those lights and stuff. I'm not saying buying one of those 25 same dresses at Target is wrong. Or that the person who planned the Christmas party is an idiot. I'm just saying, it's not me.

I hope whatever makes you happy this Christmas, you get to do it.


1 comment:

  1. We celebrate Yule so...we burn stuff. You can come to our house and burn stuff, if that would make you happy. :)