So here I am sitting in an AirBnb on Christmas Eve in North Augusta on my laptop while Annette is watches Wheel of Fortune as she likes to do on weeknights. Inside I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for a full day of Christmas related events and visits with various in-laws tomorrow and thought to myself, "This would be a great time to spew out a new blog post."
Dare I say that your opinion on that may clash with mine after you finish reading what I have to say. It's Christmas related and as with most topics I'm going to make a lot of powerful statements which I may or may not choose to back up with any real degree of supporting information. Though in this case, I probably won't be providing a lot of links and references as most of this post is likely going to consist of me preaching and I simply don't have enough time to make this a proper essay. So if you like my typical content, you may want to just skip this one. Whatever you ultimately choose to do, consider yourself warned.
Most people who know me, know me as a bah humbug. While I don't consider that to be a particularly fair or kind adjective, I will begrudgingly admit that I have earned the title over the years. To me the real problem with Christmas isn't the religious aspect of it even though I am absolutely not religious at all. The real problem I have with Christmas is the secular aspect of it. Frankly given the way that people talk about it and the tribal behaviors they all feel compelled to participate in, I don't really even see it as a religious holiday at all. In terms of every technical and historical measurement available, Jesus' birthday has absolutely nothing to do with either Christmas as a holiday or the Winter Solstice (the event we ripped off during the creation of Christmas). My firm opinion is that people who engage in the secular holiday behavior while referencing the religious aspect of it from time to time are lying to themselves.
Frankly if Christmas was simply a religious holiday, I'd simply ignore it as I do most other religious holidays. But as a member of a society that is hell bent on celebrating Christmas for at least two months of each year, I don't really have that option. Regardless of your religious preference, if you have family members that you are on speaking terms with who aren't either Muslim or Jewish you are probably going to be forced to participate in some way, shape or form. This pressure gets even worse once kids become involved. I have found that once adults run out of excuses for why our yearly homage to unsustainable consumerism and debt addiction deserves to be celebrated, they tend to fall back on the children as their primary excuse.
It's ironic that we think Christmas is beneficial to children. What good lessons will children learn from watching their parents take on loads of debt that they will spend the rest of the next year desperately trying to pay down in an effort to buy everybody more crap that they will likely just get tired of and toss to the side after a few days or a week? Yes that was a run on sentence, but the absolute insanity of this holiday demands that I use as little punctuation as possible when describing it to you. That and the fact that Jeopardy has started so I only have 24 minutes left to finish this post and get back to the living room, otherwise Annette may devise a way to keep me from watching the next episode of the Witcher on Netflix. Time is of the essence here.
In a society that is beset by economic instability and income inequality, encouraging everybody to engage in a yearly orgy of debt fueled consumerism just so they can appear to be "keeping up with the Joneses" is utter insanity. It simply makes no sense. While I understand that the acquisition of things makes us feel good in the short term, in the long term this behavior is unsustainable when you look at the underlying economics of it.
On top of that, it is an environmental issue. Do we or our children really need more plastic crap? What are we going to do with it all beyond throw it into the dumpster thereby sending it on a journey that ultimately ends at the landfill where it all will be consigned to a slow fate of decay for the next few hundred years? You tell me. I find the less stuff I acquire, the less stuff I have to dispose of. Call me a Bah Humbug if you feel you must. I'll glad wear that slur as a badge of honor. But much like my trips to Las Vegas made me feel, Christmas is a dark and desperate reminder of the unsustainable behaviors we as a species seem so determined to engage in.
I am fond of telling people that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. But the hard truth of the matter is that its proximity to Christmas has slowly but surely begun to erode away at my enjoyment of it over the years. For most people, Thanksgiving isn't about food, family, fun and being thankful for what you have. Instead it's now about putting together a battle plan for hitting up online and offline Black Friday sales in an effort to get the absolute best deal possible for Christmas related shopping.
Our rampant consumerism is a sign of a decaying society that cannot be ignored. To ignore it anyway is to deny our self destructive nature and turn a blind eye to our tendency to avoid dealing with big problems until it is too late. I want more holidays to be about food, family, fun and reminding ourselves about the good things in life. Instead I suspect that for me, like so many others, Christmas serves only to remind us all how we have failed to measure up to the impossible standards set by what is ultimately a daft and immature society.
But hey if you like Christmas, then feel free to go right on liking it. But do me a favor and spend less money on it next year. Then follow up by spending a little less on it the year after that. Ultimately the goal here is to not only kick start a correction of the economic imbalance that we are all experiencing in one form or another, but to encourage us to reconsider our widespread and ultimately ill-considered acceptance of consumerism as our primary form of religion.