by Tess Adair
Man, Christmas sucked back when I worked retail. I mean, it was the worst. Sure, one of the reasons it sucked was the increased store traffic, and the accompanying increase in the irritability of the average customer. Another reason it sucked was that my family lived half a country away, but Target would allow me no time off for either Holiday. (I had to work on Thanksgiving day and it was not optional. I didn’t have to work on Christmas day but they wouldn’t guarantee me any time off around that, so I couldn’t go anywhere.)
But the big reason it sucked was all the goddamn Christmas music.
I hate Christmas music. I hate bad department store Christmas music the most. I hated it before I worked retail, but I hate it even more now that I’ve experienced a constant barrage for months on end of the same ten sappy Christmas hits over and over and over again.
I hate Christmas movies, too. Good god, the sentimentality. The lazy cliched plots. The forced feelings of familial togetherness. No thank you.
(Die Hard is good. But I contend that its high quality level almost disqualifies it from the category of Christmas movie.)
But there is one Christmas thing I love. (You know, apart from family and shit.)
Love that shit. Last year I was in St. Louis for Christmas, and I got to go to the Botanical garden with my dad and some friends. They put on a good show.
When I was a kid, Tillis Park would do a whole light show that you could drive through. I loved that, too.
But the truth is, it doesn’t need to be fancy. I love the strings of lights they have on the trees outside my office building. I love the lights on Colbert’s Late Night set. I love it all.
This past weekend, I did all my shopping downtown. Basically, I waited until the last minute and realized that anything I ordered wouldn’t show up in time. But then I remembered that physical stores still existed, so I decided to try those out.
I love Christmas lights so much that I don’t even mind the Christmas crowds like I usually do, as long as there is ample decoration. (Plus, there were some sweet street performers downtown, including a woman in a huge dress painted to look like a statue, and a Stormtrooper who let me hold a lightsaber in the picture.)
Nothing gets me in the spirit faster than a well-lit tree on a chilly day.
I never liked very much about living in St. Louis, but I did love going for walks in the winter time.
At this point, I think most people know that the lights tradition stretches back pretty far. People used to put the extra candles in their windows to help keep away the winter spirits--to symbolically scare away the cold.
There’s something quite beautiful in that. And if you strip away all the capitalism, there’s something beautiful, too, in the fact that we place these holidays of togetherness and thankfulness in the middle of our coldest months.
The truth is, the things that I hate about Christmas are the things that I consider to be the cheaper aspects of the holiday--the movies that cynically manipulate our emotions when they’re already running high. The music that adds a shallow pop sheen to simplistic melodies. The artists who roll out cheap, stupidly sappy Christmas albums to capitalize on the season.
Actually, the only Christmas songs I like are the more religious ones. Three Kings, Holy Night. (My favorite is the BNL/Sarah McLachlan mashup, “God Rest Ye Marry Gentleman/We Three Kings.”) All my staunch atheism and I go for the devotionals. Go figure.
So all of that is to say...Merry Christmas, all. Happy holidays. Go check out some lights!
(On my shopping trip, I also ended up talking to a Planned Parenthood rep and donating $20, then I paid some Girl Scouts to wrap my presents for me, so all in all, I had a satisfyingly feminist weekend, too.)