I have a beef with the whole holiday hoopla.
Not really. Not entirely. But their ad team should really get a shot in the arm of good ‘ole holiday spirit. I mean, what’s with this “Christmas. Accomplished.” ad campaign? The one where they tell you to “out-gift” everyone? The one that intimates any together, Christmas-savvy shopper will go to all lengths to buy not just perfect presents, but perfect presents in copious quantity. Oh, and the decorations to go with them.
How did I miss the memo on Christmas being a box to check off? Something to “accomplish” rather than enjoy and celebrate? A competition with friends and neighbors over who had the most “Christmasy” Christmas?
My friends obviously got the memo because over the weekend I’ve seen half a dozen “I’m so exhausted and it’s only the first week of December” Facebook posts. Several variations on that theme appeared.
One felt hanging outdoor and indoor lights should be enough. She was dreading the baking , decorating and present buying that lay ahead.
Another baked several hundred holiday treats so her kids could have the “perfect” gingerbread snowmen to give to family and friends. She posted the pics of the finished product at 3 a.m. Her next post was (surprise, surprise) that she was sick in bed with a bug she’d gotten because she was run down.
A third complained about buying for her husband’s relatives, who live hundreds of miles away and generally come to her house once per year to be cooked for, kept in good liquor and showered with presents—all while loudly proclaiming their political beliefs (not hers) and advising her on how to better raise her children.
Oy vey. (That’s a shout-out to my Jewish friends, who don’t get off easy either. I know plenty of you who feel this way about Hanukkah.)
Today, at Costco (buying aforementioned tub of peppermint bark which is delightful, I must say, but disappearing at an alarming rate) I conducted a little experiment. I was just there to buy Christmas ribbon and was not in a feverish shopping frenzy. So, I smiled at each person I walked by. I said “hello” to many. Not one looked calm. Not one was smiling. They all looked surprised at my pleasantry and then reciprocated (Well, most. For the others, I highly recommend some peppermint bark. A holiday shot in the arm. It truly is.).
Most looked tired, grumpy or desperate. Plenty of couples arguing over what appetizers will work for the holiday party. A father and children complaining because there were cakes with ornaments on them, but not candy canes. And a poor, misguided man who was buying a blender for his wife for Christmas. Now if that’s not heading down the road to divorce, I don’t know what is. NEVER buy her anything with a plug. It should sparkle or smell good, gentlemen. All else fails.
When did Christmas become a production? One in which we’re competing with every other family for the Normal Rockwell calendar cover?
Do what you need to do. Get a Charlie Brown tree instead of the 10-footer. Tell your family you’re done with the copious gifting and just want to spend time together celebrating. Take a trip to a mountain cabin, far away from the hustle and bustle, and bring a few strands of battery-operated lights to decorate the trees. Bring on the Johnny Mathis Christmas tunes and some good hot chocolate.
Truth is, I don’t know what will make it feel like Christmas for you. But I’d encourage you to find it.
It’s not a box, to be checked off. It’s not something to accomplish. It’s the celebration of a sacred moment in our world and we don’t have very many of those, to be frank.
So don’t ruin it. Stop mucking it up. And for God’s sake, TJ Maxx, give your ad team some peppermint bark and tell them to be less crass next year.
I don’t “accomplish” Christmas. I celebrate it.