Thursday, December 4, 2008

Commercializing the Holidays

So, here it is Thursday of the week before finals, and instead of studying or writing papers, I am goofing off online--always a good idea. Now time for some inane musing, inspired by another blog:

Thanksgiving is kind of a lame holiday. Part of what makes holidays so great is that on them, you do the same special things, eat the same special foods, put up the same special decorations. But with Thanksgiving, sometimes you're with one side of the family, sometimes with another side, sometimes with just your nuclear family, or sometimes with friends, or with a family you're not related to at all, or with a bunch of homeless people in a church gymnasium. There aren't even standard Thanksgiving decorations to put up, or Thanksgiving activities to engage in (Brandon and I have worked on writing some Thanksgiving carols, but it's rough going). The only thing that stays the same is the food. Only the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce are absolutely inviolable Thanksgiving traditions.

The relative lameness of Thanksgiving is accentuated by its position between the two most fun holidays of the year--the most fun, and the the most commercialized: Halloween and Christmas.

People often talk about how horrible it is that Christmas has become so commercialized. (For a hilarious Onion News video on the over-commercialization of Halloween, click here.) But maybe there's an upside to the commercialization of the holidays, too. I mean, as long as you don't go overboard, keep your spending in check, look for "green" gifts, and all that jazz, it can be really nice that there are so many beautiful things, so many festive products to enjoy--and you don't even have to own all of them in order to enjoy them! (E.g. other people's Christmas light displays.)

The Christmas music, candles, colored lights, cookies and candy, gingerbread houses, holiday mugs, Christmas shopping, peppermint lattes (I've never had one, but the idea sounds wonderfully Christmasy!), wrapping paper, ribbon and bows don't distract from the "true meaning of Christmas,"--they just add to it! To quote from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's apostrophe to Christmas, "you are all this and more now."

That's one reason I love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas albums (in spite of the strange fact that they often address or speak of the Christmas holiday as if it were some sort of demi-goddess or archangel); they are a fascinating melding of religious sentimentality and the magic of a commercialized Christmas.

Oh my, look at the time! I'd better hurry home and get my Trans-Siberian Orchestra fix before Brandon (a.k.a. "The Grinch") gets home ...


jenzai studio said...

Thank you Virgie! I get so tired of all the Christmas bashing that goes on around the holidays. I LOVE this time of year. I love the music and the lights and the baking and the parties. I even love the shopping. It is such a treat to buy thoughtful or even just frivolous gifts for loved ones. Thank you for sending your wish lists - I do love reading them!

Denguin said...

Hmm.. You need to make me a copy of this cd. I haven't heard about it at all. I dunno, the only reason I look forward to Thanksgiving is because of the days off. (wheee!) I used to like it when I spent it at L.A. My fave Thanksgiving by far was the one I spent at New Orleans for the mission trip.. helping Katrina victims rebuild houses and such. It was great.

Miss you Virgie! I'm planning to visit around the 26th so we should "hang" hehe.

Miranda said...

A few weeks ago I was at the mall with a friend who has also spent a lot of time in the developing world. You'd think all that experience with starving kids who have no toys would make us reject the whole commercial Christmas thing, but no! We thoroughly enjoyed the lights and music and garlands and little kids getting their picture taken with Santa. Tomorrow I'm going into NYC for commercialized Christmas on steroids and intend to enjoy every minute of it. And I'll even still love Jesus.

Brandon said...
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