When’s Apathy Day? Surviving holidays as a Grinch

December 10, 2013

Now is the time for people to start overloading on holiday-themed blog posts (with a generous side-order of hot cocoa and gingerbread). Now is the time to find that perfect gift (for this year anyway) for each person on the shopping list. Now is the time to enjoy all the Chrismahanakwanzaka cheer and traditions. Well, that is if you’re not an apathetic Grinchy McScrooge holiday avoider.

Why do I avoid holidays as much as I do? Because the overall brand image of a “holiday,” for me, has become synonymous with: Buy more [brand] for [holiday] because society encourages participation in these holiday activities. Akin to the same way mobs encourage stores to pay for “protection”. Yes, I can ignore the obligatory songs, movies, foods, stores, brands, etc. But, society will give me all sorts of flak for doing so. (It hasn’t gotten to the kneecap breaking point, thankfully.)

Regardless of which media sources I consume, there's always more focus on ensuring consumers consume one brand over another, or engage in one activity over another. I've been looked down upon for having ham on Thanksgiving before or not dressing up for Halloween. I've been critiqued for my Christmas tree purchased from Bradlees back in '97 that surprisingly still has enough fake needles on it to hold up the three generation's worth of chipped and flaking decorations. (We did finally spring for a new string of lights after more than half the bulb sockets were burnt out. That’s progress, right?)

To avoid a lot of the kerfuffle from October to January, I’ve started several habits to survive The Holidays. (Capitalized on purpose as the final quarter of the year is now an event within itself for me.) My radio presets shift after Halloween, as one station after another starts the inevitable rotation of Holiday themed songs and I don't shift them back until January. It’s also getting to the point where I start skipping certain podcasts and live streams, as they bombard listeners with what brands are best for Thanksgiving dinners or which stores are better than others in regards to finding that perfect gift.

I don't watch The Nightmare Before Christmas (during either holiday), A Christmas Story (I'd rather shoot my eye out), or even A Charlie Brown [insert holiday here] (Like the Great Pumpkin, I never seem to be around when a Charlie Brown movie is on). I haven’t seen the Rockefeller tree lighting, in person or on TV and I traditionally miss the ball drop on New Year’s as I’m either sleeping or playing card games with friends.

I skip out on Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other such commercial days of the week. I don’t have fruitcake, edible or otherwise. There is usually a turkey of some sort for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I could easily live without the fuss and muss of an overly full table of food for only four people and a puppy.

To be fair, I don't actually hate holidays. I just seem to focus on the question of: Why should one day magically be different than any other? Because society tells me to? Because commercialism tells me to? I'll make each day what I want thank you very much.

Yes, each of these holidays originated as a celebration or historical milestone with meaning and purpose behind them worthy of acknowledging. Many of these holidays have lost those meanings and purposes over time or at the least new meanings and traditions have been evolved from the origins. Just how much of the Christmas brand still focuses on the Jesus’ birth? How much of the Thanksgiving brand is still about joining peacefully with others and enjoying a communal feast? How about the New Year’s, Easter, Hanukah, Halloween, Kwanza, or July 4th brands? How have all the holiday brands evolved since their respective inceptions? What about 9/11? Is that a “holiday”, despite being a solemn day of remembrance?

How do you handle The Holidays? Are they still individual celebrations with unique and distinct traditions and meaning behind them, or have they started melding together into a continuous festival of celebrations?

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