By Evelyn Medina
I went home the weekend of November 6, only to be greeted by my mother playing Christmas music on a local radio station, Mix 103.3. It is the Binghamton area’s holiday station, and has been since I was born. It turns out that the weekend celebration of the holidays has begun early this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas; the nostalgia, the music, the feelings of good tidings, but I had just handed out Halloween candy the weekend prior. I hadn’t even taken Halloween decorations off my dorm door, not to mention put my Thanksgiving flag up and the Halloween one away.
As a freshman, I understand that this will be one of the most stressful parts of my college career. I need to figure out what I want to do with my life, and survive those stressful weedout classes that will inevitably determine the direction of my future. A little bit of holiday spirit would do me some good, I’m sure. Focusing on Christmas this far out may relax me, especially since we most likely won’t be able to celebrate the holidays with our friends when the dorms close on December 18, and the final exams are completed. Celebrating Christmas early may give me a chance to celebrate in a completely different way, with my new friends, that I may never get a chance to if the holidays weren’t shoved in my face the day after Halloween.
However, is there something to say about the desperation of an escape from reality and responsibility, when Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year? Or, will this early season cause more stress than initially thought. By bringing in more holiday merchandise, and playing the music so early, our brains could be tricked into thinking that we need to out-do ourselves this year, when gift giving, cooking or decorating, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel an obligation to find happiness and celebrate the holidays with our families. It is fair to say that this adds more stress to those searching for happiness, and therefore, when the day finally arrives, that magical December 25, we are burnt out by the work we put ourselves through, and we are incapable of feeling that holiday spirit. We are empty, and unsatisfied despite all of the hard work we put into creating the perfect holiday experience for ourselves and our families. But then we wonder why. “Why have we run out of the Christmas spirit when we had two months to prepare?”
I like to think that Christmas should be a very special time of year. Though, I must admit, listening to the music and decorating early is fun, and I fall victim to it year after year. But I haven’t even thought of what dish I want to make for Thanksgiving yet. Christmas is losing what makes it so magical. When we have more of something, we learn to take it for granted, and it loses value in the eyes of the public. For example, imagine not having electricity except for one month a year. That would be a pretty special month, wouldn’t it? I relate this to the holiday season. I am bombarded with so many beautiful cards and songs for not one, but two months. The longer the season gets, the more I take from it, the less special it becomes.
I feel bad for Thanksgiving, if it were to have feelings. If we were to slow down, not rush into Christmas, we could take a moment to celebrate with our families, as the holiday intends. If we calm ourselves, and we forget the material things that drive what we believe is our love for the holidays, we could appreciate them even more. We could appreciate the time it gives us for the ones we love.
We have put so much pressure on ourselves to make the holiday season perfect, so we give ourselves extra time for it. We forget to take a breath, and rationalize what time we have left in the year. I see that Christmas could eventually turn into an excuse to rush into the next year. The holiday season is at the end of the year, and marks the occasion for when we will begin a new one, during a brief break from work or school. I see the expansion of the Christmas season into the beginning of November as a longing to start over, or the desire for a break. Stress rises, and Christmas becomes an excuse to remind ourselves that all our problems will disappear at the end of the year. So we stretch it, take advantage of it, and forget what it is truly about; family.
The holiday season is a magical time of the year. All December long, we decorate, sing Christmas carols, and wind down for a brief period of time before New Years Day. We are in such a rush to get there, we forget that time cannot be manipulated, and we push the festivities front and center as soon as we can. Sometimes, we forget to take a break. We forget to ignore the marketing ploys to get us to spend money on useless holiday merchandise, and we forget the true meaning of the holiday season. So spend your time savoring every day as it is, and not every day as you wish it would be. Take the time to slow down and be present. Christmas will come, and it will become more special when we take the appropriate time to enjoy it.
Thumbnail Credit: The United States Army Band, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons