By: PAUL GUTBROD – COLUMNIST, FRESHMAN
I kid you not, it was the very day after Halloween when I first heard Christmas music this year. Now, I don’t know what your personal reaction is, whether you prefer this or more traditional methods of when to begin playing Christmas music. My question today is the following: what does this say about our society and culture in general?
I shall begin by stating this norm from a few different perspectives. First, playing music of a particular season indicates our enthusiasm for the season itself, so perhaps the early Christmas music indicates ecstatic anticipation of this winter holiday? Second, the almost instantaneous shift of concentration from holiday to holiday indicates a discomfort with or dislike for normality (i.e. a time where there are no holidays). Finally this quick shift could also point to a relief that the previous holiday is finally over (although I think this is seldom the case).
Perhaps society’s stance is a kind of conglomeration of these three different perspectives. Surely, enthusiasm for a particular season is healthy and shows an active, vibrant community. And perhaps there is something healthy to being content with progress, moving on and not dwelling on any one holiday for too long. But I posit the second perspective contains a more insidious reality behind it, one unhealthy and unhelpful for our society.
Surely the most common thing for us is “normality,” a time we often label as boring or humdrum. “Normality” is characterized by a lack of pomp and flair and, of course, by routine. The joy of holidays and changes in season lies in their interruption of this humdrum routine. So naturally, society has attempted to prolong the holiday seasons, to the point of shifting seamlessly from one to the next as we shift now to Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year.
The detrimental consequences of this societal position will eventually end the very concept of a holiday! With the extension of holidays, these various holidays have become diluted in their pomp and flair and have become less of a relief and more of a routine. In short, the attempt to hold onto and possess holidays for longer results in the eradication of holidays themselves.
The traditional time periods set on holidays augmented their potency and the feelings like the “Christmas spirit” were all but tangible things. Now, that “Christmas spirit” is characterized by a milquetoast attitude which pervades after the initial fleeting excitement. The attempt to make our lives “one big holiday” has resulted in holidays becoming normality and this humdrum normality now has no interruption.
In order to maintain the specialness of a holiday, I propose we seek to embrace normality. Only when we accept normality can we truly appreciate the exceptional respite of a holiday.
Strive to give yourself little holidays and break up the monotony of everyday life in whatever way relieves your stress. But leave the holidays in their designated places so they can truly be what they were intended to be. Allow them to be the great times of excitement, nostalgia, traditions, anticipation and relaxation.