The Humbug Epidemic

“Then rang the bells, both loud and deep, god is not dead, nor doth he sleep.  The wrong will fail, the right prevail with peace on earth and good will towards men” – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Each year it seems to be that people are less and less cheery at the holidays.  I’m sure that a great deal of this has to do with the state of world affairs.  But, I have to say, when you look back in our history as a country, we have been through worse and were able to maintain a semblance of civility towards one another, especially at Christmas time.  Now that seems we find it acceptable to create commercials for Christmas that have snarky, sarcastic overtones.

How about the eBay commercial where the little girl is telling everyone what she does not want for Christmas, and that everything she’s gotten in the past was basically unappreciated?  Or how about the commercial where the woman hands her Christmas list to the sales clerk and gloats at her being done with her list?  Or how about the one with the woman waiting for Santa to gloat over the fact that her presents are better than the one’s he is leaving? I have to say I am deeply saddened that we have turned Christmas into such a horrible reflection on our society — a society obsessed with owning things.

Although, the coup-de-grace of all things that upsets me about Christmas is that we have television shows on how to ensure that all your presents are returnable.  Yes, returnable!  I think that we must all have been raised horribly, because all we care about is whether we get what we want.  What ever happened to “It’s the thought that counts”?  I guess you better think real good about what your friends and family want, or they’ll just return your gifts.  I have never returned a gift.  I was happy to get anything.  And if the gift didn’t fit, or wasn’t something I could use, I would simply give it to someone who could use it, after thanking the giver profusely.

In addition to this, we have to stop calling it Christmas.  This is probably the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard in my life.  Christmas, is a Christian holiday, now — the time of year derived from the pagan holiday of Yule.  I am terribly sorry if someone is offended that the Christians have a holiday as prolific as Christmas, but that is the way it has always been.  They are not “holiday” trees, they are “Christmas” trees.  They are not “holiday” parties, they are “Christmas” parties.  People who are up in arms about calling things “Christmas” are probably the same people who ensure that the gift receipt is valid so they can take the present back and cash it in.

Maybe this is the reason why we have become so desensitized to Christmas.  We have completely lost the true feeling of Christmas.  It really isn’t about the birth of Christ, it’s about hope, friendship and togetherness.  We are so wrapped up in our little lives, pursuing the next gadget or item we can own, that we forget there are 7 billion people around us.  Christmas is that one time of year where we actually have an excuse to be nice to one another, regardless of religion or race.  We should all be gathering around the fire, keeping each other warm with camaraderie — instead, we get up at midnight to rush to Walmart to buy a shopping cart full of garbage, wrap it in paper, then hand it out to the people around us, hoping we get something better in return.

So in my family, I’ve taken measures to change this, as much as I can in my little world:

1) You will never get a gift receipt from me.  If you do not like or need what I gave you, then pass it to someone who does.  I thought enough to buy you anything, that should be good enough.

2) I have a Christmas Tree, Christmas lights, and Christmas parties.  Holidays is a general term and does not describe Christmas.

3) I will not provide nor accept a Christmas list, unless you are under 10 and it is address to Santa.  Nor will I provide you a list. We should know one another well enough to know what we need.  If you or I do not, then why are we buying presents for one another?  Wouldn’t a nice cup of egg nog together be just as nice?

4) There is always a limit on the amount of money spent and it is guideline, not a goal.  It is more important to get someone one thing they will really like, rather than a car full of mediocre presents.

That’s it.  If we do not break this cycle, then why celebrate Christmas at all anymore.  The only people who stand to gain from Christmas anymore are the retailers.  Quality of products are horrible, deals are always too good to be true, and we are in a recession. 

Its time to stop thinking about our wants, and start addressing our needs.  We need the good cheer that comes from the spirit of Christmas.  We do not need another closet full of gifts we’ll never use.

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Michael Hibbard

I am a writer of dark fantasy and southern gothic literature

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