It’s Beginning To Look Garish Like Christmas
Here come the over-dressed and over-hyped holidays. It’s my least favorite time of year. The Christmas holidays, or whatever one calls the season if they aren’t Christian, are anything but merry for millions.
In fact, the season not only fails to make them merry, but makes life harder when they are already struggling. I wish we could somehow dial it back to before it became an example of commercialism at its worst.
Thankfully, on the second day of January we can go back to real life for almost a year and sanity returns to people trying to buy happiness.
I dread it more every year even though it no longer represents a financial struggle for me. My dread began when I was a young single mother and afraid I couldn’t make Christmas merry for my children.
Spoiled the first grandchild
My firstborn daughter was the first grandchild in both our families. Everything was all about her at Christmas. It was pretty easy for me because they would all get her so many gifts I didn’t have to worry.
I remember her as a toddler, ripping the paper off her gifts and then quickly looking around for the next one to open. She had piles of gifts from aunts, uncles, grandparents and her dad and me. Too much. It never occurred to me that those too numerous gifts would set up my toddler to expect miraculous gifts every Christmas.
When she was still young, her dad and I divorced and Christmas got more complicated. That same year her paternal grandmother died, so the magical Christmases with her dad’s big family in their huge Victorian house faded into the past.
My parents began work in construction and would often be far away at Christmas or only home for a day or two. The end had come to Disney-ish Christmas celebrations at both houses.
Suddenly my little girl was no longer the star atop a truckload of glistening Christmas gifts. The first Christmas after things changed in our lives she was broken-hearted and disappointed.
I had to make Christmas right.
I became obsessed with the belief that I had to make Christmas as happy for her as she remembered when she was the only child and showered with gifts. That wasn’t possible, of course. I didn’t have much money but I would spend every dime — even if it meant I wouldn’t have enough to pay rent or bills — trying to get my daughter, and later her little sister, too, everything they could ever want for Christmas.
In my obsession I believed I had to do that or there would be some terribly tragic consequence. I think a lot of parents have the same obsession and false belief I had.
Seemingly I tried to compensate, on that one occasion, for not only bad choices I’d made, but for things that were out of my control; like deaths in the family, fathers who didn’t step up, and being relatively poor on my single income.
I know now my obsession with creating fairy tale Christmases was bad for my daughters. They were always melancholic after Christmas. Reality never lives up to over-hyped expectations.
Additionally, I was sending all the wrong messages about materialism and consumerism — the very things I’ve since come to abhor.
November would start me worrying about where I would get the money to buy gifts. My depression worsened and my anxiety levels were through the roof. Still, I’d make a mighty effort.
My Christmases were nightmares of over spending. After I remarried, my Christmas spending was the cause of many disagreements. I would sneak around my husband and buy stuff on credit or based on money that would arrive after Christmas.
Christmas for me meant kids inevitably let down from their sky-high expectations nothing could have matched — unless I could maybe have bought them Disney World. My oldest continued to wish for Christmases like her memories from early childhood and my younger daughter, always following her sister, somehow acquired those same high expectations.
My Christmas thoughts and actions were obsessive and insane. I had some cockamamie mental disorder that caused me to compulsively spend money I didn’t have or spend over an agreed upon budget. I couldn’t honor limits about getting my daughters stuff for Christmas. I believed that no matter what, I could not allow my kids to be disappointed at Christmas.
The neurotic behavior resulting from my obsessive belief was extreme. Until it was rooted out through counseling, it besieged me the last two months of every year.
Between keeping my job and the craziness an impending Christmas triggered, I would almost kill myself with exhaustion and worry.
The great relief of January 2
I can’t describe the great relief I felt once Christmas was over. I know now it wouldn’t have hurt them to get only what I could afford. It would have helped them understand limits and curbed their materialism. As a parent I should have discouraged their expectation of guaranteed happiness and fulfillment on Christmas Day.
I was a mess and I confused my children. I regret I was never able to enjoy my children and the holidays. I was always too worried about what was going to happen after Christmas when the checks hit the bank, the bills came due, etc.
As a result of my obsession surrounding Christmas when my children were growing up, I hate it now. I start feeling the sadness that exacerbates my usual low-level depression around Thanksgiving and it hangs on until after New Years. After that I can look forward to spring and feel much better.
My attitude about Christmas is not only because of the years when I tried and failed to do the impossible. Recently it’s more related to the unfairness, tackiness and commercialism. The advertisements and glitzy merchandising are influencing children in terrible ways. Materialism is drilled into kids’ heads at an age so young it’s all they know. We’re teaching them to equate worth and happiness with the number and value of possessions.
How do parents cope when everything is designed to feed the same obsession that gripped me? Parents are dazzled by the advertising as well as the kids. They want to get that stuff their children are asking for. Many families barely make it paycheck to paycheck, and then along comes Christmas.
Like I did, parents feel a huge responsibility to make their children exuberant and joyful on Christmas and beyond. They’re told buying as much as they possibly can will solve everything and guarantee happiness.
Underprivileged children see the same advertising as kids from wealthier families and it builds up their hopes.
Children in impoverished families see the same advertising and the same store displays as any other children. Naturally they want the same things. In the end it often becomes a time of unhappiness. Parents feel terrible if they can’t give their kids what they want. Kids are disappointed. But sometimes the parents are struggling just to keep the car running or the utility bills paid and a roof over their heads.
A season that should be a warm and close family time has turned into a buying orgy. Parents become desperate while being pushed beyond their means by a society obsessed with creating a perfect experience through materialism.
I hate it
I truly hate it. I was raised Christian and taught that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus. What we call Christmas now has nothing to do with the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ of the Bible. Christianity has nothing to do with the winter celebration we called Christmas. Somehow December 25, which was celebrated in Rome as the winter solstice became the highest Christian holiday. The date has deep Pagan roots as do Christmas trees and other aspects of Christmas celebrations.
What takes place certainly looks and feels more Pagan than Christian today. Moreover, many biblical scholars believe Jesus was not even born in December, but sometime in the spring. It seems no one actually knows, but the date has no real religious significance.
That leaves me comfortable saying in no uncertain terms, I hate Christmas. I’m the Grinch, I guess. I sure sound like him. I don’t care.
Its all too much. Baubles, tinsel, and shiny thingies are everywhere. Buy this! You must have this! Christmas won’t be complete unless you buy that! Bah, humbug.
How is Christmas magic when it’s all about who can buy the most.
All the fanfare makes for a lot of disappointed little kids. What could possibly compare with what they see on television? Can those toys really do that? Usually not. More disappointment. How IS Christmas special when it is all about buying as much stuff as we can. Overstimulated kids want everything because advertisers use sophisticated techniques to make their product seem essential to happiness. It’s not uncommon for upper income families to spend thousands per child at Christmas. Good grief.
Last year, a woman shared that her kids’ stocking stuffers alone amounted to around $200 each. Yikes. We got apples and oranges with some nuts and chocolate Kisses under the fruit.
I’m a fine one to be talking since I was obsessed with my children’s Christmas. I spent way beyond what was reasonable or affordable for me.
I was sick! I obviously had a cog loose. What is everyone else’s excuse?
Some teenagers get new cars for Christmas. Others may get a free turkey for their family’s dinner and an age inappropriate toy from the Salvation Army. Nobody donates things teenagers want. They cost too much and people don’t understand a 16-year-old can feel as left out as a six-year-old. Of course it’s more fun to buy toys for toddlers than gifts for teenagers.
Kids learn early; Santa isn’t fair.
Small children quickly come to know there’s no equality when it comes to what Santa Claus brings. They may not understand why, but kids from low income families figure out early that they aren’t going to get the same gifts as rich kids. Santa is prejudiced and unfair and the little kids know and must wonder why. What message are they getting? That they are less than?
I’m always sadder around Christmas. I always worry about people who can’t afford to have a special meal or gifts for their children. I always think about the homeless. Their lives become significantly harder in the winter. The cheerful holiday lights and spending sprees must mock them when they’re cold and hungry.
The money we spend on our Pagan-inspired lights and Christmas trees, etc., could feed a homeless person and buy them a warm coat or shoes and socks. I think about things like that during the holidays. But lousy hypocrite that I am, I’ll still put up a Christmas tree and have lights and holiday decor.
I’m torn between keeping things traditional for my family or living up to my principles and not celebrating at all. The problem is my not putting up a Christmas tree or having lights won’t change anything.
Every winter night when I go to bed, I’m grateful I have a warm bed. I’ve been down, but never as far down as many are today. People sleep under overpasses. People live in the sewer systems of big cities. People live in houses with no heat. People live in cars. Often with their children.
Obviously it’s not a cheerful holiday for them and I cringe to think of the suffering of those who have no home, much less a Christmas tree to put in it. The holidays, coming as they do in cold winter just make it rougher on those whose lives are already too hard.
In my maturity, I’m increasingly disgusted by the gluttonous excess we create in the name of Christ amidst suffering and inequality we often choose to ignore. Republican legislators don’t have this problem.
The holidays are here. Glitter and tinsel everywhere, talking dolls, toy robots, computers, gaming systems, giant sized televisions, massaging recliners, diamond jewelry and gold trinkets in every direction.
This year, they’re not waiting until after Thanksgiving to have Black Friday sales. Several start this week. The stores are already becoming crowded.
Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Ugh.