Tag Archives: Christmas too early

Searching for peace with the Christmas season

Don’t even talk to me about Christmas decorations, Christmas music and Christmas parties before Novemer 25th. I’ve been feeling blows to the head by the holiday behemoth since before Remembrance Day and I’m already tired of it.

It’s expensive, it’s fraught with expectations, how-tos, obligatory receptions, parties, gift-giving, specialized appetizers, too much booze and fake cheeriness.

Bah humbug.

No really – it is a great big commercial free-for-all, the one time of the year when our self-control (in spending and eating) and discipline (in getting exercise and taking care of our inner selves) is challenged. Big time.

I know some people just love Christmas (er – the holidays…) and I say good for them. I’ll gladly attend at least some of their parties and have a good time. I’m grateful for their hospitality and the fellowship it affords. I’m not averse to connecting with loved ones and having fun.

However, for me this is the most stressful time of year. I take consolation in the fact that I’m not alone (but contrary to popular belief, there is no spike in suicides this time of year).

I’m worried I am expected to return the hospitality and I just don’t work that way. For me, as a single gal prone to depression, the holidays are a minefield I must navigate. As a person who’s got three children, one grandchild, too much debt and one income, it’s difficult and exhausting to live up to the seasonal expectations.

In previous years I had an automatic Christmas fund savings plan set up at work, but then I changed jobs in March. Had I only read this article in July – “just a little bit of forethought right now can save you a ton of time, effort, cost, and heartache this December,” and worked through this holiday tracking sheet. I pride myself on being organized – but unfortunately I wasn’t that prescient this year

It’s not just the expense, it’s the stress of not living up to the big happy family myth. I stopped visiting my parental units at holiday time years ago – why deal with family drama when it’s cheaper and easier to get together at a less stressful time of year?

In fact, there is a picture somewhere in my mother’s possession of a 12-year-old Tori on Christmas morning curled up in my new beanbag chair with a new book, completely oblivious to everything else going on around me.

Truthfully, I’d rather just hole up somewhere by myself, read a book by a fireplace, pump Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata through my iTunes to my heart’s content for a couple of weeks until it all blows over.

So I’m of two minds about going back home to Saskatchewan for the holidays this year. the best part: I get to see my grandson! Besides, the timing seems convenient – it’s the time of year when work slows down, school is out and nearly everyone takes off anyway.

On the other hand – I’m anxious about it. I’ll travel on the busiest airline day of the year, navigate Regina streets in the middle of winter, compete with a large “coodle” of Grandmas and Grandpas surrounding little Oliver that includes two ex-husbands. Yes two – they’re both, along with their Significant Others, very involved in my children’s lives, and then there’s my daughter’s husband’s family. It’s a good thing for my daughter and grandchild and we all get along great. But still – there’s a reason I’m not married to these men anymore, right?

That’s a a lot going on for someone who would rather curl up with a book and enjoy the quiet in the midst of chaos. Maybe I will get that Kindle for Christmas after all … and whatever happened to that beanbag chair?

Sometime between now and Dec 23, I’ll have to reach some kind of detente with Christmas, at least for this year.

“Terrified” Christmas photo by Rumpleteaser; “Christmas Story” leg lamp photo by Kevin Dooley, both licensed under Creative Commons.

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Oh yes, I will remember

I keep losing my poppy – I think they’re designed that way so you have to keep putting a toonie or a loonie into the cadets’ tray to get another one this time of year. That’s OK by me. My grandfather, a veteran of World War II, is long since passed away but I still remember.

Besides that, right now soldiers are returning from Afghanistan in coffins, maimed, wounded and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Over the past 65 years since WWII our soldiers have been returning from Rwanda, Cyprus, Somalia and countless other peacekeeping missions that resembled only in varying degrees the meaning of that term.

On my reading list, for instance, is General Roméo Dallaire’s new book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. He says Canada is losing its moral soul internationally, evidenced by our non-action on child soldiers, our participation in failed “peace” keeping missions like Rwanda.

The issues of war and peace still need our attention; what better time of year to pause for a moment and think about the whole thing.

Except you won’t get any help on that score from Canada’s biggest retailers. According to them, Christmas started weeks ago. Remembrance Day? What’s that? Such a somber holiday is not very conducive to sales I guess. They don’t even have to close their doors for Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) any more. They suffer the young cadets and Legion volunteers to sell poppies outside their doors, but inside it’s all Christmas trees and holiday “music.” On the television it’s started: the heart-wrenching ads designed to give you that warm nostalgic feeling for Grandma’s home baked cookies and hot chocolate.

I say enough. To me every one of those ads, all the Christmas music (it’s not even Advent, if you’re so inclined to follow a Christian calendar) infusing the stores already – it’s an insult to the day we’re being asked to observe this coming Thursday.

I say enough by refusing to shop at stores where they’ve already started the unending  (until Boxing Day) vomit of Christmas marketing. Last night, horrified by a schmaltzy Canadian Tire ad, I Tweeted:

I’ve decided to #boycott stores that have #ChristmasAdsTooEarly starting with Canadian Tire.

That started a barrage of ReTweets and conversation, at least a dozen replies within a half hour of my post.

I’ve decided I’m on to something, and it’s more than #ChristmasTooEarly (my hasty hashtag). I think it’s a marketing fatigue – a feeling of hopelessly getting sucked into the Christmas Season Vortex of Expectations. I’m going to write about it in further posts, but for now I want to make this post about Remembrance Day and about starting my own boycott of the disrespectful retailers.

Meantime, I’m going with my daughter to the Remembrance Day parade here on Thursday. I’ll write about that. Then I’ll write more about my conflicted feelings around the holidays, and further on why I’m remembering to boycott the following shops for Christmas:

  • Canadian Tire
  • Zellers
  • La Senza
  • Leon’s

Any more that you’ve noticed? Any other thoughts on starting Christmas too early?

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