It’s that time of year again: the time of year where everyone is overwhelmingly nice to each other in the most superficial of manners, where annoying music is played over a thousand different times in a thousand different ways over the radios, and where fat men with giant sacks of various goods attempt to break into your home and leave you gifts.
Wait, that sounds like every day? Oh, shoot, all right then: it’s the time of year with all the aforementioned stuff, as well as slightly more aggressive advertising and snow. That’s right, the holidays! Aren’t they grand? You can practically taste the overindulgent mint-flavored candy-cane tang dancing through the air as you furiously try to untangle the dementedly-woven set of lights you found in your basement. Every street you walk down is an incandescent homage to acid-colored stars and gigantic inflatable Santas (oh, yes, they most certainly do have them here). From the point at which the trees begin to lose their leaves, you have a hot, burning sensation crawling across the surface of your skin and down your throat. And only when the first sprinkles of white flakes grace this flat and barren land does the burning sensation leave. Then you suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to post five different messages proclaiming your love for snow to anyone and everyone you may know.
For most university students, Christmas is more or less a pay-off, if you will. A self-given reward for all the hard work (or lack thereof) put in over the course of their grueling final tests, essays, projects, and presentations. One may work through the entire first semester, forcing them one step closer with each scratch in their notebook under the promise that in a few months’ time they will have nothing but eggnog and present shopping to worry about. For this reason, many bring in the season of red and green luster as soon as possible. If it’s snowing, the Christmas break is near. If you see a related commercial, the reindeer are tap-dancing on your roof. If you make a cup of hot chocolate then you might as well break out the festive sweater and open some presents too. We’ll do just about anything to make ourselves believe the end is near.
But there’s a problem here. Well, if you count that the world may end and we’ll all be dead before we get a chance to celebrate, then there’s two problems. Let’s be clear, I am in complete support of giving oneself that little incentive to keep pushing towards the end. But how soon is too soon to begin the festivities?
Does anyone actually remember Halloween happening at all? It already seems so long ago, yet it was only a little over a month ago that it transpired. What’s more strange is the question of whether or not anyone watched TV that same night. If you did, I bet you noticed the first sign it what was to transpire over the course of the month of November: a Christmas-themed commercial. Yes, not even on the next day, but right on the heels of a still-occurring holiday did the jingle bell spirit creep onto our television screens. There used to be a time when it was tasteless to even think about setting up your lights before Remembrance Day.
If the world of advertising is any indication of the general population as a whole, then most act with the attention of a small child in a room full of toys. Once one toy (Halloween) expires in its interest the child simply moves on to the next toy without a second thought (Christmas). It seems that all the fun and lighthearted holidays get shoved to the forefront of everyone’s thoughts a month before one would even consider them seasonally appropriate. Meanwhile, the day of remembrance for the world’s soldiers, which is unfortunate enough to fall right in the middle of two more major holidays, goes unthought-of by the mainstream until the day it arrives.
It is understandable that companies want to capitalize on the consumer market in preparation for one of the most publicized holidays: that’s how money is made. It is always nice to put yourself in the mood to sing carols sooner to allow yourself the promise of a gay old time in reward for your horrible suffering as well. However, it doesn’t become summer the minute you throw a beach ball out onto your front lawn, so the same cannot be expected here. Simply because the nation decides to burst out into scenes from A Christmas Carol in the middle of the street at the very beginning of November doesn’t mean the twenty-fifth of December will come any faster.
We seem to be under the constant belief that the next and newest thing is the most important, and only focus on that. You can see this type of mentality anywhere. If this weren’t true, then the Billboard charts would stay constant for those two weeks at the most, closets would have a little more room in them, and the majority of restaurants in any given town or city would not be mostly commercial. But the sad fact is that this is all true and it defines many of our patterns as human beings.
But what comes from this is, instead of truly being pumped up for the big day, we tend to become sick of it very quickly. By the time it was actually December, I had an images of burning down every Christmas tree within a ten-mile radius, not dancing sugarplums: bah, humbug, indeed. I implore anyone to inform me if their face has not tightened up into a slight frown when they heard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!” blasting through someone’s speakers. Jessica Simpson isn’t that bad of a singer, it’s the hundreds of times you’ve heard that song and many songs like it that morphs your facial features into that of a wrinkly bedspread.
The joy is slowly and surely being sucked out of the holiday season. Once where there were happy children playing in the snow now sit kids on couches with DSs and iPhones. Where people once looked foreword to the possibilities of the season and the time spent with family happily dressing a tree in blissful calamity, we now simply look at the calendar and say, “Oh, Christmas break already? I guess I’m excited.”
There is a way to get that joy back, however. That is by managing your focus. As university students dealing with our finals, that task isn’t too hard. It’s all about taking what’s important right now and giving it the time and energy it deserves, instead of looking to what might be nice further into the future. That way, things can be taken in stride, now in stress. And the days like Christmas can be met with the utmost of positive natures rather than a jaded outlook. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t look forward to the break, or shop ahead for presents. It’s the overall expression towards the day which gives it this color. The world would undoubtedly be a better place if, just once, “White Christmas” would play when the ground really was white. But it isn’t a necessity to go into Scrooge mode until a certain time of the month. What is necessary is compartmentalization. If we limit the amount of time and effort spent leading up to something as simple as enjoying the festivities with family and friends then we can enjoy it more as an event, not another item off the checklist.
So it’s December now, yes? Good, the caroling and bell jingling can all happen in moderation! But don’t forget there’s still plenty to look foreword to during the day, not just the end of the month. From all of us at the Quill staff, happy holidays, and good luck not failing your exams.