Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Bitch

Everyone loves holiday traditions, me included. But I feel like Pinterest and Facebook have kind of taken the fun out of them. Now, EVERYTHING has to be a tradition. There's an ongoing and concerted effort to turn everything into a "tradition" and to make everything "special." Parents are in a race to see who can be the most obnoxiously "cute" (and by cute, I mean "I just swallowed some throw-up") during the holiday season. Everything is so barfing kitschy.

Sorry, I drank bitch juice earlier today.

Example 1: kids nowadays can't have just any kind of advent calendars, they have to have fancy ones. A tree made out of 25 boxes full of goodies. Elaborate garlands with pockets filled with treats for every day before Christmas. It only makes sense in American that you would get a new toy everyday to prepare for and celebrate the one day where you are showered with gifts. Cause, you know how it is. It's just so hard to be inundated with all the objects of our desire on Christmas morning that we need 25 days in advance to warm up and get used to the feeling of extreme material bliss overload. 

Oh and advent calendars are not enough anymore. If you're any kind of cool, you'll have a creepy looking elf friend that comes to visit. Every night while you are sleeping, he will come to life and manipulate all kinds of random items in your home. What the hell? The magic of a fat man in a red suit traveling all over the world in a single night in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer that stops at every single home so that said fat man can slide his huge belly down the chimney and leave a butt-load of presents for all the girls and boys ISN'T ENOUGH MAGIC FOR US? Also, how many times have I asked for a cleaning elf? If I don't get a cleaning elf, there is no way in hell my kids get a mess-making elf. 

And we can't just send regular Christmas cards anymore. If you send a regular ol' Christmas card without a cutesy and clever picture of your family being beautiful or amazing, then you can just expect right now that your plain ol' Christmas card will end up in the bottom of the Christmas card pile. Right behind the picture of Aunt May's dog Snuffy wearing a Santa hat and a perfectly poised, professional picture of the five Smith girls wearing matching Christmas dresses and smiling in unison (without any food on their clothes from the chocolate they DIDN'T eat, without shave marks in their hair from the time they DIDN'T give themselves haircuts, and without pants that are a half an inch too short because their mom actually is put-together enough to keep them properly clothed). 

The crazy thing is, Parents have ruined Christmas. RUINED. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day aren't special anymore. Why? Because every single day leading up to Christmas is a barfing holiday. We celebrate Thanksgiving by shopping for Christmas. Stores don't have sales anymore. They have "celebrations." We are in such a frenzy to do our long list of special "traditions," that Christmas is just way too much work. Every year we have to make Christmas even more mind-blowing than it was the year before. We have to celebrate everything, to the utmost fullest of our capabilities. 

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. And the LEGITIMATE traditions that go along with it: Christmas trees, stockings, gingerbread houses, Christmas music (or whatever you grew up with in your family). I love them all. Every family (used to) have their own little ways to celebrate the holidays and make them special. There used to actually be MEANING behind these traditions. We did them because our parents did them. We did them because they were part of our culture or heritage. 

Now, we have commodified and commercialized the very concept of tradition. Parents are so quick to take up any tradition that they hear about, regardless of whether there is any meaning behind it. Adopting slews and slews of traditions purely for tradition-sake in an attempt to bring our children every possible ounce of hype totally strips away all the meaning. 

"Tradition" is now just an idea that corporations sell to susceptible parents who have embarked on the inevitable journey of keeping up with the Joneses. And the result of clamoring to be just as celebratory as our neighbors is that we all end up being exactly the same. We all do the same new commercialized traditions and buy all the same products necessary to carry out said traditions. If, in the unlikely chance that a person comes up with a clever and original idea, it is instantly commodified and marketed to all the other parents in a way that makes them feel inadequate if they do not follow suit. Everyone is out-celebrating everyone else. The result of all of this: Christmas has become so cluttered with hype that is has effectively been watered down. 

So what's a parent to do? I don't know. How about traditions that have a purpose? How about focusing on teaching our kids how to give rather than receive. Let's teach them to do things for other people rather than training them to expect more and more each year. In an effort to do this, I made a different kind of advent calendar this year. I took one of those garlands with 25 pockets and inside each one I put a slip of paper. Each slip has written on it an extra chore or task for my sons to do. Instead of getting new candies and toys each day before Christmas, they are going to do one thing extra. They are going to give. But not just things or objects. They are going to give their time, effort, and talent. That beats the barfing hell out of a stupid elf that does a different variation of meaningless crap every single night.

Maybe I'm being a little melodramatic. Maybe I've been sitting in the same room too long, inadvertently breathing my own recycled fumes and eating way too many processed, snowman shaped Ho-Hos. Or maybe I'm simply the Bitch Who Stole Christmas?

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