Don’t Rain on My Holiday Parade

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — don’t overthink it!

December is my favorite month of the year; as ridiculously corny as it sounds, it is a magical time of the year for me. Obviously it’s a special time for most children, but this charm fades for many people as adulthood comes upon them.

Not me, though. I love the holiday season.

I love the food, the decorations, the music and all of the traditions. I even love the cold — I’ll gladly take seeing my breath when I wake up in the morning over that wet blanket of humidity that clings to everything during every Halifax summer.

Again, in case I’m being too subtle: I fucking love this time of year.

You can call the season whatever the heck you want in front of me, I don’t care. I’m not going to be offended by someone else’s desire to proclaim their love of the holidays in the way that suits them. Wish me a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Fun Festivus. Whatever — we’ll get along just great as long as you’re in the spirit of the season.

I’m going to confess something semi-private to all of you — I feel we’ve gotten real close these last few sentences. I’m a Pagan. I celebrate Yule, sure, but I also have a separate and deep love for most things Christmas. Two excuses to eat Turkey are better than one, right?

I’ve had arguments in the past with people who feel that I should be more offended than I am about Christmas, what with all of the Pagan traditions it pilfered in order to strengthen Christianity’s hold on Dark Age Europe. I could not care less. That sort of appropriation has been going on as long as people have had cool cultures to crib from — it doesn’t in any way affect my ability to hold my own beliefs. Why should I get mad when people are just trying to have a good time and enjoy their holidays?

Really, if there’s one thing that bugs me about the holiday season, it’s the number of bellyachers who pop up looking up for some excuse to rain on everyone’s parade.

Take the religious whiners, for example. The way some people act, you’d think encountering another religion in a public space was the same thing as being converted at gunpoint.

I take Paganism seriously, but I also don’t get offended when I walk by a nativity scene. I think people should put out all of the decorations they want to — I want the streets to be a giant mishmash of various religious decorations, like some earthly representation of what heaven would actually look like if it exists and the Supreme Being isn’t an unexpectedly petty omnipotent force. I want people to be happy without trying to ruin anybody else’s good time. Is that too much to ask?

It’s the same thing with the ‘commercialism’ complainers. I’ve seen the archives section this week — people at Dal have been complaining about Christmas becoming a consumer abomination since at least the 1800’s. Get over it already.

I love giving presents, and I definitely don’t mind receiving them either. Again, let me be the one to put it out there—I like getting presents. I know we aren’t supposed to admit that, but I will break the silence. I even love getting socks and laundry detergent every year; you appreciate that shit much more when you live on your own.

I love giving presents too. The feeling you get when you absolutely nail someone’s present is awesome. I once made my mom a cookbook filled with hand-picked recipes; she loves it and uses it all the time. That’s awesome. Despite their reputation, gift cards work too. If you can afford something, and it makes the other person happy, you’ve done well.

Now, since this is a Dalhousie audience I’m writing for, I know I only have about five more seconds before someone starts wanking on about privilege. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I didn’t have a privileged childhood. There were some really hard years. My mom was a single parent who had no help from my father; she had to handle everything herself. There was a year or two where there were no presents at all, and there was a year we stayed in my grandparents’ small apartment on Christmas Eve because we had no heat at our place. I had to sleep in my jacket a few nights before we stayed with them. I can live without presents, but I like getting and giving them all the same. The commercialization of Christmas doesn’t bother me, because whether there were plenty of presents or none, my family always had a great time together. Spending a bunch of money doesn’t mean that the sentiment is no longer there — it’s just another way to spread good cheer.

So tank your way through those exams, toss your books in the closet, and enjoy the hell out of the holiday season. Whether you have a specific religious attachment, or you just want to spend quality time with the people you care about, make sure you soak in every last moment. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, take my advice and drown them out with a nog-fuelled round or two of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

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Shannon Slade

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