Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 28, 2005, Herald Journal

Whose holidays are these?


The holidays mean sparkling cocktail dresses, stiletto heels, glittery eyes, and frosty updos – according to the magazines.

But if I wore such garb to the holiday parties I will be attending, I fear more than one person would feel the need to tell me it’s a Christmas, not a Halloween, party.

However, it never fails. Every year, I open up the November or December issue of any women’s magazine and find the same advice; how to score the perfect cocktail dress for your work party (I guess I wasn’t aware the Herald Journal was springing for a black-tie event at a ballroom, and I’m not talking about the Blue Note), or dramatic make-up lessons to take you from casual to smoky-eyed in five minutes flat.

I know our country is obsessed with celebrities, but I didn’t know we were deluded enough to think we, too, were full of fame and fortune.

Maybe the magazines think such advice will give us the grand illusion of being invited to festive parties full of champagne cocktails, instead of suffering through dry turkey at Aunt Mabel’s.

Or, maybe I am just too “back woods” to be exposed to all this sophistication (which could be true, since the population sign in front of the town I grew up in reads 1,000).

Not quite prepared enough to admit that I am in the minority, and most people do, in fact, regularly attend these swank fêtes, I asked my friends what they think.

Sure enough, they confirmed my suspicions. They, too, have no idea who attends these saucy soirées.

We decided that only people who work for big corporations in big cities must go to these events. One girl remarked she was going to be wearing black pants to her company’s Christmas party, and would probably be the most dressed up one there.

So why must these magazines toy with our minds, making the holidays out to be something, that for most people, they are not?

Let’s face the facts.

Holidays are about stress.

People spend them trying to find the perfect gift in overcrowded stores, cooking and cleaning until their faces are as red as Santa’s suit, wasting their time running around to parties and sports tournaments, and trying to make nice with whatever relative or friend it is that they avoided the whole year, but are stuck sitting next to during Christmas dinner.

Decorating, alone, can eat up weeks of time. You have to go to the store and rummage through a literal forest of evergreens in the freezing cold. After picking out the perfect tree, you have to lug it home and into the living room, at which point, it leaves a trail of pine needles strewn across the perfectly vacuumed floor.

Then, the ladders come out, lights get hung, and tinsel gets strung.

After that, Christmas letters must be written, addressed, and sent, preferably before the new year.

With all the responsibilities and extra work the holidays bring, it’s no wonder we can only handle them once a year.

If this sounds like a bleak picture of the upcoming month, it is. It is also, unfortunately, how some people view the holidays – an endless to-do list and forced interactions with cranky Uncle Ned.

While all of the aforementioned may be true, like a good volleyball spike, it’s all in the approach.

The holidays are going to happen, whether we want them to or not. We can either approach them in a crazed fashion, letting the extra hustle and bustle sour our mood, or embrace the opportunities the season brings.

Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on the negatives and stresses of the season. I would like to ask a question.

Whose holidays are these?

My holidays do not include spiky heels, black silk dresses, and mink coats.

My holidays could consist of sitting at a computer, surfing the Internet for my gifts, but I sit at a computer all day already.

No, I am excited to tackle the post-Thanksgiving Day crowds at the mall, because the hunt for the perfect gift is half the fun.

Christmas decorations may be a pain to set up, but they lift everybody’s spirits.

I enjoy cooking, and it is fun to have an excuse to cook decadent desserts and fattening holiday side dishes.

And even if you don’t like cooking, if you cook it, you get to eat it, right?

I don’t really think I need a reason to look forward to spending time with friends and family. Although we all have our quarrels, the gift of companionship should always be valued, even if it can only be tolerated in short intervals with some people.

The holidays also provide a break from our daily routine, a reason to take time off of work, and relax.

All of these reasons make up my holidays.

Finally, it is a pity to let minor inconveniences and material squabbles get in the way of remembering why we celebrate the holidays.

It is not for the food, or the decorations, or even the gifts.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and thank God for the wonderful things He has done for us, which are even more evident this time of year, despite the cold and the stress.

So, the next time you are feeling stressed out or sick of the holidays, ask yourself the question, whose holidays are these?

They are yours, so remember all the wonderful reasons for the season, and enjoy how you spend them this year.

I may not get to buy a new cocktail dress this year, or take part in a seven-course meal, but I will be celebrating Christmas with its namesake.

The rest are just details to enjoy.

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