Some of us have our doubts. According to a Psychology Today article, some 45% of us aren’t thinking it is the most wonderful time of the year, as the old Andy Williams song goes. In my case, the anxiety comes from the pressure of an extra burden of social obligations, gift buying, parties, making memorable occasions, card writing, and pulling all of it off on time, under budget, and in style.
Some people are plagued by negativity which is exacerbated by print and television advertisements creating a picture of love and fulfillment, of idyllic family celebrations or full-on fantasy interpretations of the season. Some of those ads sucker me in, turning me into a blubbery mess even if I can’t remember what they are selling – Folgers’s coffee, was it? The point is, advertising experts are particularly good at manipulation and provoking comparisons—playing with our emotions. It might just be the one season where commercials that push products using images of comfort, love, and warmth outsell sexy, racy ads. And I am sure a good number of people are as bothered as I am by the over-commercialization of Christmas from which there seems to be no escape. This Apple iPhone ad for example, lights up my 11-year-old daughter’s face:
…but it makes me grumpy. While I would love a gadget that would plan and execute my entire Christmas season, leaving me with nothing to do but sip on a peppermint latte, I am too old and wise to play into the fantasy that things happen at the touch of the screen. I am tired of saying, for the ten thousandth time, “You’re not getting an iPhone,” and “No, that does not make us bad parents!”
I just want to hide the access card for TV, shut off the radio, power down the computer, and bake my sugar cookie cutouts. My kids want high-priced electronics as gifts, just like all their friends. Well, at least my son said he’ll send Santa a list of the big ticket items—he still believes in Santa, bless his little heart.
I think Christmas is still a wonderful time for most children, and for some adults. But it could be more wonderful for all of us. If we block out the noise of advertising and the pressure to make this season perfect and our lives perfect, it can be wonderful. Whether or not you are religious, it’s a beautiful time meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Find some quiet and space. Let the sounds, smells, and sights of Christmas in. Try making something by hand, or baking gifts; practice empathy, lend a hand, lower expectations, and take time for yourself; because the best things in life are the simplest and purest.