Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now that Christmas is Over

As a child brought up in a very poor and dysfunctional family, I hated Christmas. I hated it because it always led to sadness and conflict. There was no illusion about Santa Claus in our house, because my mother made sure we knew the truth as soon as we were old enough to understand. 

After many years passed and I had a family of my own, I eventually learned to tolerate the holiday season.  Now I have grand kids and a larger family and I really do enjoy it. I enjoy it primarily because it allows our family and friends to get together. It took a long time, but it finally feels good to me.

Having said that, I'm not fooled into thinking that the entire Christmas season is now based on anything other than businesses of a thousand types, getting their hands into our pockets.  I swear to you that my local mall started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween!

I'm saying this in a general sense, because of course there are many folks out there who see it as a time of giving and helping others. I commend them, but from what I hear and see, it's mostly about commerce these days.  Or is it just me?


  1. i love the holidays alway have even whenwe didn't have anything to give but i am hating the way stores and the businesses are steam rolling them i mean we weren't even a day past christmas and valentine's stuff is out. seriously slow down enjoy life and the time it takes to get to the next holiday

  2. You're right....the Real Joy of the season is often robbed my the commercialism and selfishness of the majority.
    It's a trap many fall into....

  3. I agree with you Pat -unfortunately, Christmas does seem to be very commercially driven these days.
    I'm glad that you can enjoy the time with your family these me this is the most important aspect of the holidays, especially as we never know just how many more Christmases we might get to share (with my dad being quite ill).

  4. Yes, I think you are right, seems like the reason for the season is now dollars, not sense!

  5. Yes a large part of it is commerce, but I mostly just enjoy the time spent with family, when everyone is happy and in a good mood.

  6. Hello Patrick,
    I know this feeling you write about. Coming from a similar family situation as yours.
    Today I have great people around me, and new traditions around christmastime, and I think I can learn to like this part of the year too.
    In Norway christmas is comercial and some traditions mixed together.
    People become nicer and are more likely to share with people who needs it most.
    I wish we could share a bit of our time or goods with people who struggle through the hole year, not only during christmas or when politicians want us to vote for them.
    Just some thoughts, and excuse me my english. Hope you understand what I mean.
    Thanks for sharing this post.
    Have a nice day Patrick.
    Greetings from


  7. It was only last year when I realized that the holiday season is nothing but business. Over here they started decorating and advertising Christmas stuff very early too. But I still like for three reasons:
    1. I love wrapping presents.
    2. I love when the streets are decorated with Christmas lights.
    3. I get to go to my hometown for a week and see my parents and other relatives.

  8. It says good things about you, that inspite of a sad start in your childhood, you raised your own family to enjoy the holiday season in the best way. Kudos Pat!

  9. I can understand how you feel about Christmas. My childhood was sort of similar to that except that instead of telling me that Santa was not real, my parents would just get drunk and beat me because I was to blame for them being broke in December.

  10. The way I see it is every holiday/occasion has been co-opted by commerce. It's not just Christmas.

    The whole of the retail world too. I was being snowed under ads and flyers trying to get me to put on a new roof for Christmas! Buy a new freezer to hold all that festive food! Your husband would love those new snow tires for christmas! (for the record - no he would not)

    But now that Christmas is over (on Boxing Day in fact) Christmas crap was discarded into the sales bins and the stores were awash with pink, red and white hearts and valentines chocolates.
    No doubt on Feb 15th will be knee deep in pastel colours and Peeps.

    and so it goes...

    We all know it, and bemoan it, but it must work or retailers wouldn't do it

  11. No Pat, it isn't just you. Flick a switch (Christmas music in the malls) and we're all in the holiday spirit, ready to spend, spend, spend. Christmas is OK, but I really dislike most Christmas music, especially Jingle Bells. I would forgo Christmas entirely if it meant never hearing that bloody song again.

  12. Patrick--I agree that it seems Christmas has been taken over by retailers and materialism. I guess it's what you make it. Yes, there is that part of it, but it can also be a time of reflection on gifts other than material ones. I find that people, generally, spend at least some of the Christmas season to reconnect with families and to help other people.

  13. I think it is very much about big business these days. Many merchants bank on the season to pull them through the whole year. I guess the upshot is that at least no one is in denial anymore about how commercialized Christmas has become. It's now just a predictable fact of life, it seems. - G

  14. You're not alone. Many have come to see the commercialism of the holiday. And it's sad.

  15. Nope, not just you. It seems like Christmas is being shoved down our throats earlier and earlier every year!

    Now keep in mind, I LOVE Christmas. I am the Martha Stewart of Christmas, but I make it special in my own way that doesn't involve a lot of money. With food and friends and laughter and more food :)

  16. Pat,
    I totally agree...I grew up with a poor family and all sorts of dysfunction and that didn't stop just becuase it was Christmas. I too grew up despising the holidays and am thoroughly thankful when they are over. I also like structure and routine and the holiday season is anything but. I tolerate it and have 'glimpses' of delight with my son but mostly I'm glad it is over!
    I think your feelings are all too common anymore; certainly not what God intended the holidays to be.
    great post!

  17. It's just you, Pat (kidding!). The City of Astoria put it's Christmas decorations on the street (at least some big ones at each end of town) BEFORE Thanksgiving. As an online retailer, I'm happy to sell people things for gifts, but I also hate the steam rolling, as becca said. Also as a retailer, I've discovered that Christmas doesn't make or break my business. If I don't manage the rest of the year correctly, November/December will not fix it but only make it worse, so I'm not onboard with "the poor retailers have to do this to make a living." Maybe some do, and maybe they don't. In any case, it's too bad.

  18. becca - I guess this is why my friend says he wants to be put into a coma at the end of September and revived the day after Valentine's day.

    Dawn - It sure is! I think what I like the least is how they bombard our kids with commercials, so they will start begging their parents.

    Nat - Thaks Nat. I really do enjoy the family part of it. You are right about not ever knowing...

    Brian - Now there is a line worth quoting!

    Cake Betch - I agree with you! I didn't always feel that way though!

    Berit - Thanks for your thoughts! They are very good. I also don't like how there is always one toy produced, that there doesn't seem to be enough of. It causes fighting and people spending more than they should. I think your English is better than mine!

    Minoccio - I think your number 3 is the best part. It brings some people together.

    Margaret - Hi there! I tried to do that. I never liked getting begged relentlessly by kids to buy them something they were told they wanted on TV. Thanks Margaret!

    Oilfield Trash - I got a lot of that also. Maybe you are my long lost brother.

    Nariane - You are so right. My local grocery store had the Valentine's Day items out on the Monday after Christmas (two days). Yep, the retailers sure now how to herd us sheep around.

    dennis - I also am not a huge fan of holiday music, but time and time again, I find myself whistling or humming it...

    Georgina - It is predictable and sadly so. I even feel pressure to decorate the outside of our house. (not just from my wife)

    Clarissa - I totally agree! It's hard to miss, isn't it?

    Kato - "Shoved down our throats" is a perfect way to put it. Kind of like Justin Beiber...LOL
    It's nice that you have your own traditions that make it special for your family.

    Tracy - I hadn't thought about the structure part, but you are so right. It's good that you are able to get some enjoyment out of it now!

  19. tapirgal - I knew it was just me!
    It must be very hard for retailers to have to rely on one season to make or break their business. Like I said, my local mall had their Christmas stuff up and playing holiday music RIGHT after halloween.

  20. No, it's not just you thinking this.

    Unfortunately, we spend a lot of our time watching TV, and on that TV there are a lot of people being made ridiculously large amounts of money to get you to spend yours.

    Can't help but wonder what would happen if everyone agreed to turn off their TV for a year. :-) What would we do with our time and our money? What would people REALLY want to give/receive for the holidays?


  21. It's mostly commerce. But I don't blame the businesses for that. It's not greed -- it's desperation. Christmas has become such an important part of the fiscal year that they dare not let any chance to capitalize on it go past. An unsuccessful 4th quarter can kill a company and put a lot of people out of work. Watch what's happening with Borders Books after this last season. A large segment of our economy is trapped in a Christmas dependent cycle and there's no way out. Santa has us by the throat and he's not letting go!

  22. I agree. It seems to be less about family as well. I'm so over it anyway. It's mostly a man made holiday at this point that provides tons of extra stress.

  23. Almost all in a ode another we are in the consumer society.

  24. Aside from a couple of snorkeling places on Hawaii, my favorite island so far is Kauai. Have you been before? And they have nice wild chickens.

  25. Pearl - That is so true! Advertising is a huge industry in and of it's self. I think I'll try that and turn off the TV for one entire year....NOT!!!

    Glenn - I don't blame them either, but it's too bad that it has come to that. All the big box book stores will soon be gone, I'm thinking...

    Penny - So true, the calendar is full of man-made holidays this year.

    Leovi - You are right. Very little producing and a whole lot of consuming...

    tapirgal - yep, I've been to Kauai and can't wait for May. It is also my favorite island...

  26. The commercialization of Christmas is a heinous travesty. I have responded personally by buying less and less. This year it was one gift per person, and it's the first year I really stuck to it. We spent less than $200 on over 25 presents. Way to stick it to the man, right? Ha, take that!

  27. Sometimes it seems so commercialized that it's lost its meaning. Sometimes to the extent it's promoted as a general event that denies the real meaning. In my household though, we never forget the truth.
    I'm glad your Christmases are better now.

  28. Karen - wow! that is some self control. We think much more about it now also. Grandkids get savings bonds.

    Alex - Thanks Alex! I'm glad they are better now also!

  29. I have always enjoyed the holidays primarily for my children. I kept Santa a secret until their teens. Truth, ask them..This year I had $300 to buy for 5 kids, 2 grandkids and A Mother.

    Know what, I did it and it was wonderful.. So commercialized these days lets me know it can be done with less and still be enjoyable (damn, sorry i wrote all that Pat)

  30. This Jewish gal is also glad Christmas is over. The holiday season is just loaded with stress and difficult feelings. Thank goodness you have a large, loving family now. You deserve it!

  31. No it's not just you. Holiday time is big biz. But then again, if a couple of mom and pop shops benefit then all is right in the world.

  32. How very sad your childhood was.... I'm so sorry, Pat. BUT--you obviously pulled your way UP out of that life and made an incredible life for yourself. Some people just don't or can't do that. It's sad.

    I love Christmas --and see alot of good things happening for those in need and for others... YES---there is a ton of commercialization at Christmas and it is sickening. BUT--I try to ignore that part and try to celebrate it as God would have intended.

  33. I agree - the holiday season is too much about spending money, stressing over spending money, and getting and giving THINGS. I'm happy to hear that, for you, it's about getting together with your friends and family. That's the part of the holidays that I enjoy, too. I try to stay away from the crazy consumerism that takes place, and am teaching my little one to do the same :)

    Happy New Year!

  34. My mother has always started playing Christmas music late September/early October so I officially cannot stand it after all. of those years

  35. As a kid, I loved the holidays.
    I swear I heard sleigh bells as
    Santa left our house.. but for many
    years now , there is too much personal tragedy that seems to wait
    for those holidays.

  36. Wow, Pat, great idea to give the grandkids savings bonds. I used to give them to my nieces, until their mother complained... then I stopped giving them anything. Talk about a cranky aunt!!!
    We have toned down the gift thing, and appreciate the time we spend with my mother (esp. on Christmas eve, church and singing carols), with our simple decorations, and the thrill we share in looking at the lovely neighborhood lights. Silly, isn't it?

  37. Lynne - Please don't apologize for being a nice and thoughtful person. You know what is really important and it isn't how much many you spend on people. It's about love and family. You have grandkids?

    Robyn - thanks Robyn! I'm glad it's over and it would be so much nicer without all the commercial hype.

    Jesse - I totally! I want small buisness to thrive, but I'm so tired of the big stores cramming it down our throats.

    Betsy - It was a sad and brutal childhood, that much is true. With the help of some loving and gentle people, I found happiness... Christmas can be a good thing! Thanks Betsy.

    Sarah - You hit it right on the head Sarah! We just have to remember what's important. Happy New Year to you also!

    Josh - Wow! I don't blame you for not being able to stand it! thanks for signing on and commenting!

    faye - That is really sad! Of all times to have bad times...Maybe it will be better this year!

    Brenda - Not only do we give them the bonds, but we hold on to them. It makes no sense at all to spoil kids with excessive gifts...
    What you do and like isn't silly at all! LOL...

  38. as for the early beginning..we've got the same with our Sinterklaas (a bit similar to santa). It's celebrated on the 5th of december, but the Sinterklaas snacks arrive in stores as early as the first week of september.

  39. It shouldn't be about commerce..but that is what it has become. Sadly.

  40. It's not just you - and that's part of the reason I'm glad I usually have quite low-key Christmases. It's all about spending time together, and not about the materialism.

  41. It has indeed descended into overcommercialized chaos. But here's the thing: We don't have to play into the game if we don't want to. We can still choose to mark the holiday for its original, spiritual purpose, and we can still choose to walk away from the need to buy, buy, buy.

    It's tough to do, of course, when the influences are so pervasive. But reading your and other friends' blogs convinces me there are lots of like-minded folks out there. Time to start a new movement, perhaps?

  42. it's commercial, but you have to make it what you want it to be.

  43. I agree, definitely too commercial. People worry too much about gift buying now. Gifts are good and fine, but we've taken it too far. Even so, I still love Christmas!

  44. Arjan - The first week of September? Now that is torture!

    Marlene - It is indeed! We need to get back to basics.

    Talli - You are right, the family part is what I enjoy!

    Carmi - That is so true! It's not even just regular buying, it's how they create the annual "must have" gifts, create a shortage, jack up the prices, and create chaos!

    Chris - That's right, nobody is forcing us!

    Ree - We cut way down on our gift giving. It's easy to get out of control...

  45. Isn't Santa a monopoly? He has no competition. Shouldn't the gov't step and put a stop to that?

    Xmas is way too commercialized.

  46. I think it is what you make it. You can make it all about running around like an insane person and buying until your credit card explodes...or you can make it about giving.

    I try to think of Christmas as being every single month and then it takes the intensity out of December 25th for me.

    I often give our Grands new clothes or shoes and wrap them up in Christmas paper. We try to send cards to shut ins, etc., every month of the year...especially in January and February.

    This coming year I have suggested to my immediate family that we make gifts for each other throughout the year and share those. I've already started on scrapbooks for the Grands and some stories for my own kids.

    I have this weird little credo I try to live by: You can only be a victim once...after that you become a volunteer.

    I have tried to choose a different path to holidays...I don't know if it always works but having endured 19 years of marriage to a man who detested Christmas and made certain to ruin it for everyone every single year I had to go a different route. If not, I think I would have stayed in the fetal position every single time I saw a Christmas ornament!

    OK, sorry for the novella here. Your post touched a chord in my heart.

    I'm glad you are finding peace with the idea of holidays, Pat.

  47. Hey Patrick, I am so sorry that you missed out on all the fun Christmas joys as a kid and I am so happy that you are now able to enjoy them with your grandchildren. Yes, commercialism has taken ALL OUR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS and used them for profit.

    Christmas and especially Easter, are special days in the Christian tradition that have been trivialized by the drive for money. We tend to count it a successful holiday if we can focus on family and friends over the money grab. Yes! but there is so much more going on in the spiritual realm to celebrate too.

    One day....

  48. PTM - I think he does have a monopoly! Someone should sue him!
    "xmas is way too commercialized."

    Jenny - No problem with the novella, it was actually more interesting than my post! you are right though, it is what we make up. Im happy for both of us that the holidays are now enjoyable...

    Rosemary - thanks Rosemary! Yep, it's pretty obvious that there are some very smart people trying to find and exploit those triggers...

  49. Jhon - you are right about that! I just stay calm, enjoy all the nice lights and have a good time with my family (most of 'em anyway

  50. The commercialism of Christmas makes me sick. And I wonder what it does to kids to shower them with gifts. Something got lost along the way... and as you said, some kids miss out, so what does it do to them longterm? Or even shortterm?

    Family, food and a couple of drinks.. that would do me..

    I'd ban gifts in our house if I could..except for the kids..infact, I told my step kids this years that I didnt want any presents.. i only wanted a story or poem.. I got one story, one (hastily written) poem and one present from the one who couldnt be bothered to well, its her money.. lol.. cant say i didnt try! and those written words will last forever.. we're likely to forget the present by next year..

  51. Anthony - My experience tells me that we damage kids by giving them too much and doing everything for them. I always tell my kids to use their money for something they need. Getting together as a group makes me happy enough. We seldom have the entire group together, but we try...

  52. My dad loved Christmas, he enjoyed decorating our house and having a house filled with friends and relatives every Christmas. It is still my favorite holiday.

    With all that said, yes it is driven by businesses trying to squeeze the last dollar out of us. I expect to walk into a store this June and hear Christmas carols.

  53. Pat, I applaud you for enjoying Christmas through the eyes of your grandchildren even though it is hard for you to be joyous.. Bravo!
    Yes it is a commercial holiday but we don't have to get caught up in that part of it.

  54. SQ - thanks! It seems like there has to be somebody in the family who really makes sure the season is rewarding. Here's one I forgot. The last time I saw Christmas Carolers, they asked for a donation....

    Pam - you are so right! More so than ever, I now realize that I need to ignore the huge hype! Thanks!

  55. It's not just you! But somehow our dysfunctional family found it's way back together again and revived the meaning of Christmases past that were awesome.

    No big money spent on any gifts--just passing along and rekindling Love lost!


  56. John - Yes, your photos back that up! that's what it's all about!

  57. I think that after a few dozen comments, the point has been covered a number of times and from a number of different angles. But I deserve to be heard damn it.

    I've actually grown to appreciate the home and family aspects of Christmas more and more the last couple of years. Yes, out in the world it's all "buy buy buy!" but Christmas - like most things - is what you make it.

  58. Like anything else, Christmas is whatever we make it to be on an individual basis. I don't do much in the way of holiday buying, but do tend to travel more. The holiday does have a lot of good things to offer. What would happen to the world economy if spending at Christmas and all other holidays just stopped? The various holidays might be looked on as something the adds economic meaning to society. Good? Bad? Depends on what you do with it.

    Tossing It Out

  59. You are entirely correct, it's all about commerce. Same here with the decorated trees in the sotres right after Halloween. Years ago I remember thinking, "Jeese, i's not even Thanksgiving yet." I don't think they can push it back farther than Halloween though......

  60. SN - LOL! I think you are correct! Just because they bombard us, we don't have to react to it...

    Arlee - Yep! You are right, it's both good and bad. I hate to see people over extend because of family pressure that originated from ads.

    Entre Nous - I hope you are right! If not, we'll start seeing Santa in a costume other than his own.

  61. Well, here I am. I can't keep up with blogs any more since I lost my bloglines. I don't have the patience or desire to try a new program.
    I've never been real fond of Christmas. It's supposed to be about Christ but I don't think he would approve of the celebration.

    I miss your blog and tonite I remembered I just have to click on your name on the B&W blog to come here. lol

  62. dot - Oh no! (what are bloglines?)
    I'm glad you're here, no matter what path you had to take!

  63. Wow. That first paragraph would have been ripped from my diary if I still kept one... :)

  64. Wow. That first paragraph would have been ripped from my diary if I still kept one... :)

  65. texwisgirl - Wow! I'm sorry you had to go through sucks!

  66. My Chinese mate and I don't celebrate the season at all (the 24th in our house was a day like any other), but like you, we do enjoy any occasion to get together with family/friends.

  67. Francisca - I think that's the best part about it. A good reason to get together...


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