How to defend a deadly disease?
Because yes, this is a disease. Getting to be epidemic, infecting multitudes with something called “seasonal cheer.” Humph. Nonsense words.
Maybe you’ve avoided it, so you must be warned. Don’t panic. Early Onset Christmas has some easily-diagnosable symptoms: smiling in sub-zero temperatures, claiming to love snow, intolerable jolliness. Serious cases involve inflatable yard décor, a.k.a. death of taste.
The only known cure is abject cynicism. Fortunately, I have more than enough to go around.
The weird thing about this epidemic, though, is the timing. I’ll admit, Christmas can swell my heart three sizes. But there’s a time for that, and I want to hate everyone for the other 364 days. Like any normal young man, I snarl at children and mock their parents. When you’re 25, you start getting curmudgeonly. Natural cycle.
But what is natural about Christmas in November? Or October? Or my God September? My disdain for the hap-happiest season is only equaled by my disdain for it starting absurdly within the bounds of autumn.
But perhaps my anger is only guided by what I did yesterday. November 28th, 2014. The pain, the torture my curmudgeonly condition could not, cannot, will not bear. I attended… a Christmas Dinner Theatre.
I spent the entire night munching on biscuits and cringing. There were gymnastic snowmen. There were merry mariachi. There were sexy dancing reindeer women. And this being a dinner theatre, another singer punned, “those’re some fine hoofers.” Hooffffffffers. I heard something else and almost howled in laughter.
There’s lots more to this sordid tale. Disco balls, Grinchly Macarena, Elvis Santa Claus, “washing your hair in snow,” a possible post-flood haunting, too much sweet potato soufflé. But my doctor has advised against reliving it too soon. My PTCDTD is still in the early stages.
But people ate it up. Both the show and the sweet potato soufflé, stunningly. I was there for free (lucky me), so I’m allowed to wallow in humbuggery. But the others, they paid to be there? Paid actual money for tawdry turkey and jingly bells?
And as a reminder, THIS WAS NOVEMBER. Christmas Dinner Theatre is barely acceptable in the correct season, let alone on Black Friday. But there I was, eyeing my scoop of cheese dip and trying not to ogle the reindeer.
So maybe it’s just me. Maybe I can’t understand. But in an attempt to cure this disorder, I took to the internet. And I made an odd discovery.
Part of this is gender-related.
Nearly every defense I’ve found concerning EOC was penned by the fairer sex. Nearly all were of the “crafty” subset of women. Not “malevolent” crafty, but “I frequent Hobby Lobby” crafty. Essentially the same thing, but different connotation.
Anyway, nearly all of them had posts like “Ooh, this year we’ve made our own wreaths out of tinsel and dried leaves,” or “How to combine pinecones and paper-mâché to make personalized gifts,” or “How to make your coatrack more festive.” But they all talked about the holiday season, and how early to start celebrating.
Danielle Quales blogged about her personal experience, moving from Florida to the Midwest. She likes the change in seasons, but could see how sub-zero temps and icy hellscapes could cause some wintertime blues. But she thinks decorating early and often alleviates that ennui.
She writes, “Even though I’m not usually one of those people who really gets into the Christmas spirit, I decided that this year I would make a conscious effort to do so. Part of this newfound seasonal excitement could also be the fact that… I’ve been looking for excuses to decorate (our new home) for practically every holiday this year!”
But Gee defends. “There’s enough angst in the world that a little escapism into a happier holiday season seems just about right. Maybe it’s because I’m a mother now, and I just can’t wait to introduce my son to all the family traditions I remember as a child: hanging the Advent calendar, frosting cookies, singing “Silent Night” by candlelight on Christmas Eve.”
She even defends the ugliness of Christmas shopping, calling it “mothers, daughters and sisters bonding.”
Most of these women like EOC, because it gives them more time to purchase poinsettias and dress up their pets. There’s a lot to prepare and decorate and bake and wrap and carol. Plus, all that stuff about happiness and joy and blah blah blumbug.
But even some of them are tired of the encroaching Christmas season, because it takes away from Halloween and Thanksgiving. Not the holidays. The décor. Seriously, these were best defenses I could find.
Tiffany Burba of diamondbackonline.com asserts that “autumn holidays deserve more than 15 minutes of fame and should not be subject to the tyranny of Christmas materialism. The neutral, matte tones of fall simply do not match the frosted tinsel tones of winter… And the home goods section of any department store assaults your nose with the horrific hybrid of pumpkin spice and winter evergreen candles. These belong in entirely separate spheres.”
So my defense is either seasonal emotion or clashing decoratives. Welp… blah blah blumbug it is.
Luckily, Burba didn’t merely complain about candles. She writes, “This problem is much more than just the face-value issue of pumpkins clashing with reindeer — it may reflect our society’s tendency to live in the future rather than enjoy the present. While keeping our long-term goals in mind is important in decision-making, we often get too caught up in next week or next year to appreciate truly our ordinary experiences each day.”
And right there is my main issue with Early Onset Christmas.
Waiting makes Christmas more special. I fear we’ve become so addicted, so attached to the idea of Christmas that we would have it every day if possible. I would like Christmas to be one day, even one week, where it’s truly great because it’s the only time we have it. I want something special, not something normal.
But that need for specialty is not universal. Though some people fret over the holidays, others live in the present and truly celebrate the spirit of Christmas all the dang time.
For all the crafty ladies and joyous souls out there, that spirit does not dissipate in repetition. They somehow maintain their cheer for the entire 3 months of their personal Christmas. Those people might be insane, but they’re not wrong.
So what’s the best solution here? How do we keep Christmas special for everyone? A few would say “celebrate however and whenever you feel like it.” And I… I…
I think I’m in that group.
At the end of the Christmas Dinner Theatre, Santa had a monologue. In it, he talked about the true meaning of Christmas. It was that type of show, stay with me. He asked a potent question. “Why can’t we have the heart of Christmas all the time, regardless of season?”
Christmas might be about weather ennui, or corporate greed, or arts and crafts, or fellowship or cheer or forgiveness or humanity or the birth of a 1st century child. But at it’s heart, every day could be about every one of those things. We don’t need a reason to be cheerful and thankful other than that we want to be.
Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas, but this can cross over into other Winter Solstice celebrations.
Like Santa said at the end of the show, Christmas is about “tenderness for the past, courage for the present and ho-ho-hope for the future.” And that sentiment can be any time, any month, any season. EOC might be a disease, but the Christmas spirit is worth the pain.