The Daily Illini

I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch but . . .

Margaret Kots

Margaret Kots

By Chinmaya Sharma, Contributing Writer

Christmas: a time when adults plan family gatherings and children dream of gifts they’d like Santa to deliver.

Seeing homes aglow and streets abuzz with chatter may bring back fond memories; however, there are others who find this a little nauseating.

Maybe Christmas is a little overrated?

Not that I like the Grinch, but for once, I feel I might actually be on his side — and for good reason.

Christmas was my favorite holiday as a child. I always hoped that my holidays would be as dreamlike as the Hallmark commercials.

Maybe it was the allure of gifts or good food that kept me on my toes. Every subsequent year, however, the holiday excitement dimmed down a little more.

Christmas is just another holiday, in a long holiday season, that encompasses Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Boxing Day and New Year’s. Although each is celebrated for different reasons, the way they’re celebrated boils down to the same: dinner, drinks and gifts. Add a tree and an imaginary Santa, and it’s Christmas!

Christmas is celebrated the same way every year — it’s repetitive with little innovation. Consider, for example, Christmas carols: repetitive hymns about warm fires and white Christmases. While these may help perpetuate a holiday spirit, they are so overplayed  they make me want to cringe.

Every year, Christmas comes a little too early. As if a 12-day Christmas wasn’t enough, people start talking about it even before Thanksgiving.

Then, there are those who take it a step further and go way over the top. In fact, every neighborhood has that one person who lights their Christmas tree at the start of November.

They are only second to American retailers that start advertising Christmas all the way in October. In fact, Sam’s Club and other large retail chains have pioneered a trend known as the “Christmas Creep,” wherein they introduce early Christmas sales to support merchandise resellers.

While we’re on the topic of merchandise, it’s worthwhile to look at how materialistic Christmas celebrations have become.

A few decades ago, Christmas gifts were much more modest and homemade. Back then, giving gifts was a tradition with meaning and sentimental value. The practice has since been replaced with a more consumerist outlook.

While it is always nice to receive presents for Christmas, people now expect to be given a gift. Presents have become the focal point of a holiday that is supposed to focus more on celebrating family and friends.

Buyers feel the pressure to spend more money on the perfect gift, and they expect to receive a perfect gift in return.  In fact, a gift isn’t perfect if it doesn’t look right, making its appearance of prime importance. As good as elaborately wrapped boxes look,  they often set the expectations too high.

Naturally, receivers may be set up for a disappointment that leaves them feeling empty and wishing for something more.  Given the pressure and expectations, it’s not uncommon for a holiday to be overshadowed by its materialistic aspects, which we know all too well as the “holiday blues.”

Whether it is the passage of time or my shifting awareness of the world around me, I can’t see the holidays as anything more than something that gives children an opportunity to dress up, young adults an excuse to drink and adults a strong dose of anxiety.

Given that, what does my perception of Christmas mean for my holidays?

Not much. I know better than to expect anything from family, friends or myself on these designated days of fun, because expectations will take me nowhere. The best way to approach holidays like Christmas is with an open mind.

That way it can be the best day of the year or just an average day with family and friends. It can be anything you choose to make of it.

Chinmaya is a freshman in Engineering.

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