Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to share her thoughts about how our holiday season has lost some of its charm.
The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.
Once upon a time there were reasonable time gaps between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each holiday had its very own month and we had breathing space between festivities. Somehow, over the years, the lines got blurred. Now there is no recovery time between the last piece of candy corn and the first candy cane. It’s demoralizing to walk into Walmart or Costco and see Christmas trees next to cornucopias.
Why the rush? The pressure is on from retailers for us to shop NOW. Stores compete with each other to be the first to put out holiday merchandise. This year they even moved Black Friday to three weeks before the real Black Friday (which is not real, just a marketing ploy to induce buying frenzy).
I blame the Hallmark Channel for paving the rush to Christmas. They haul out holiday films right after Halloween and promise hundreds more movies waiting in the vaults. There are only so many treacle-sweet plots and kisses under the mistletoe with Mister Finally Right before the audience is in a diabetic coma.
Not only have we forgotten “the reason for the season,” but it’s become a sport of one-upmanship to outdo each other in the presents department. A friend told me recently that her nieces and nephews scorn her gifts because they expect pricey stuff. They’ve grown up with everything money and their parents can buy. Their love comes with a price tag and no satisfaction guaranteed. I wouldn’t just put coal in these brats’ stockings, I’d wrap up a bag of charcoal briquets.
There’s no “over the river and through the woods” for Thanksgiving anymore because Grandma is tired of doing all the cooking. Granny wants to go to the casino and her holiday spirit comes in a cocktail glass. And why not? I hear so many people complain about having to travel in bad weather, which house is hosting, sitting next to people they dislike, catering to vegetarians and the gluten-free, too much drinking and unwinnable arguments. What should be a joyous celebration becomes a dreaded yearly penance.
Luckily, I’m on the sidelines of the whole holiday frenzy. As a single woman, there are no children in my life, no relatives and my close friends know I don’t have expendable income lying around. To be honest, none of my friends really need more presents. At our age we’re clearing out our attics and basements, closets and cupboards. The only justifiable gift-giving are books and edibles. For my cats I might rub some catnip on their scratching post and treat them to Fancy Feast. They’ve been pretty good all year (except for you, Cookie, my little monster).
Sorry if I sound too humbug about all of this. I just wish people would make the effort to simplify and take the self-induced pressure off themselves. Ignore expectations and do what gives you joy. Be around people you enjoy, dial back the gifts. Don’t just give the blessings, but count them.