The “Holiday” Season

Two weeks ago in Orlando, amidst a balmy 75-degree sunset, I saw workers at a hotel near Disney putting up a huge, white-lit frame with intricate designs around one huge shiny word: “ICE”. Clearly this very ironic sign was not descriptive of any nearby location or state. Unless they were advertising the effectiveness of their hallway machines.

Today I walked in to Starbucks in San Francisco to use the restroom, and noticed that everything inside was red and green, with white spinning snowflakey thingies. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was playing, and all sorts of “seasonal favorites” were available for purchase. Mention was made in the various wall advertisements of some “spirit” of the season which is supposedly upon us, whether we like it or not.

Well, I don’t like it! Not yet, anyway. What is everyone trying to pull? Is nothing sacred? I’m actually very angry at our culture right now for trying to tell me that the “holiday season” is here (and not for any spiritual reasons). The earlier in the year we put up Christmas decorations, or decorations for any holiday, for that matter, the less meaningful they become. Yes, I want to experience the festivity of the various holidays that are soon to arrive. But I don’t want to be so bombarded with incessant greed-driven reminders that they are going to be here that I lose all sense of excitement over them.

I can’t think of any more effective way to take the excitement and meaning out of Christmas (or any date-based holiday) than by prepping consumers for it two months in advance. Is there a clearer way to say, “We don’t care about the holiday” than by implying, “What we really care about is the money you spend for it. So spend it now and often…there’s only two months left to give us all your cash! Hurry before time is up!” ??

Ugh, it’s disgusting.

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan worked as a programmer in tech startups for several decades, but is also passionate about all kinds of creative pursuits and academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively, and is working on another in theology. An American-Canadian, he lives in Vancouver, BC and has way too many hobbies.

3 replies on “The “Holiday” Season”

I’m with you on this one…

It’s all so much more obvious and incongruous when you live in a warm climate.

This coming from the man decorating his Christmas tree in mid November =).

I too despise the commercialized way in which we’re told to “get in the spirit.” As a countermeasure, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try to observe Advent this season. I’ve ordered a couple books by Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton with daily reflection, scripture, and prayer for the six-week Advent calendar. Having found how poor I am at disciplining myself in such things, I’m looking forward to the structure and guidance of trying to observe the season in this way, and hopefully finding new joy and peace in it. I’d welcome any company in doing so!

Unrelated Bob Dylan lyric:
Walking through the leaves, falling from the trees
Feeling like a stranger nobody sees
So many things that we never will undo
I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

I totally agree with you. My tree is already up and all our Christmas gifts are bought. Most of them have been for a few months now.

Advent is a fantastic idea of counter-culture spiritual preparation. Hmm…liturgy isn’t such a bad idea, is it?

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