Jake Old: Give me Christmas without all that fluff

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is over, and we are moving into the Christmas stretch. Actually, it seems like most businesses begin to promote Christmas-related products and events in August, but I try to ignore that because I think we all know it’s a bit ridiculous to see a cardboard cutout of reindeer flying through snow while it’s 80 degrees outside.

At the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, I have to say that I’m already burned out on most things associated with Christmas – and yet here I am, getting a jump on the holiday by writing a Christmas-y column at the begining of December.

If I never hear another one of the dozen or so Christmas songs that are repeated ad nauseam every holiday season, I’ll be a happier person. Especially “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” That song is the worst. It’s like a game of Monopoly – only one person really wants to get it started, and then everyone else in the room immediately regrets it.

I’m already tired of over-the-top light shows. I don’t want to see Christmas specials of random sitcoms. I’m not looking forward to propping up a fake tree and hanging little plastic figurines of an old man who is dressed in red, holding a case of Coke.

I’m really not trying to be a party-pooping Grinch. I just do not need all the excess that comes with this holiday season. If you are one of those people who get into it, hanging lights on your house, putting your tree up before Thanksgiving and caroling with neighbors and church groups, then more power to you. That’s just not my scene.

I prefer to focus on the giving spirit of the holiday season. Whether, as for many of us, that spirit stems from religious beliefs, or it’s just for that feeling of warmth in the chest knowing you made somebody’s day a little brighter, it seems that this is unanimously recognized as the time for giving. I know most of us, myself certainly included, would do better to let this spirit overflow into other parts of the year, but it’s nice to know that at least part of the year can be dedicated to generosity.

I prefer to focus on the fact that my family will be able to come together and forget the drama, stress and problems in our lives and just sort of hang out for a few hours and enjoy each other’s company (well, before someone inevitably gets into a heated argument and we all come back to reality).

I prefer to focus on the work that certain members of my family (hint: the mamas) pour into making the holidays memorable, and I try, mostly unsuccessfully, to convey my appreciation to them – not just for the current holiday, but for those from my childhood, which I can still vividly remember.

And I’m not saying that people can’t have both; of course you can get into all aspects of the holidays and enjoy everything equally. But for me, I just want Christmas without all the excess.

So this Christmas season, I don’t want to put up with the nonsense. I don’t want to roll my eyes when a cheesy Christmas special starts; I don’t want to throw my palm over my face when “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” inevitably begins to play about 40 decibels too loud; I don’t want to let out a sigh of exasperation as I listen to someone worry that the lights on the tree aren’t at the perfect angle.

No, instead I just want to appreciate the time I get to spend with people I don’t see too often. I want to see the faces of my little nephews and my niece when they open their gifts Christmas morning. I want to eat a big Christmas dinner prepared by the best chef in the world (Mom). I want to recognize the giving spirit that everyone gets caught up in during this time of year.

And most of all, I want to thank the people close to me for making the holidays worth putting up with the annoying songs, trees, lights and everything else that makes Christmas seem clichéd and weird.

Jake Old is a reporter for The Mountain Press. Call 428-0748, ext. 214, or email jold@themountainpress.com.