Christmas causes unnecessary stress

Opinions Columnist | Journalism senior

Holiday stress far outweighs the joy the season is meant to bring each year.

The end of every year goes out in a blaze of lights, a flurry of shopping and distended bellies as special food and candies reign. Cheerful, jingly commercials flaunt products that are exactly the same aside from packaging covered in snowflakes.

Everybody holds hands, burns candles and sings songs preaching about giving—most of it is a waste of time.

I hate to “bah, humbug!” here, but I cannot help feeling overwhelmed this time of year. Every Christmas as a kid, I would watch my parents scurry frantically to and fro from the kitchen to the store to the secret wrapping room upstairs. It used to make me anxious, but now it makes me angry.

The holiday holds many contradictions within itself that do not seem to line up with traditional Christmas values of generosity and family. Santa Claus is one of these contradictions. For the sake of “tradition,” parents purposefully play an elaborate prank on their children for eight years or so. They lie to the child for years, knowing when the kid finds out Santa is a phony, they could be crushed. What kind of sick lesson is this supposed to teach kids? It is not very generous to lie to children for the first decade of their lives. The loss of Santa Claus was one of the first real letdowns of my childhood, and the people I loved most perpetrated it.

Another direct contradiction is the insistence by adults that Christmas is “not about the presents” It is about spending time with family and ingesting ungodly amounts of glazed ham. Yet even before these words have fallen from the parents’ lips, they are busy making everything all about the presents. This sends mixed signals to children. Parents’ words and actions do not match up. Because of this, children are excited about presents but might feel guilty for feeling that way, or they simply disregard family altogether in lieu of the gifts. Either way, it is not consistent.

Another confusing aspect of the holidays is the frantic shopping that turns malls into hunting grounds. Each year people storm the malls for the perfect toy that will make their kid love them again after finding out Santa Claus was a fraud for all those years. The stress of holiday shopping can really put a strain on people. By the time I have finished browsing for gifts, I am ready to take the next fistful of glitter I see and throw it into somebody’s eyes if they dare cross me.

The holidays are a time for relaxation, appreciating family, eating delicious food and being thoughtful. The extreme nature of the holiday season in today’s society robs this special time of its potentially positive qualities. If instead people took the time to unwind and spend time with their loved ones during the darkest, coldest part of the year, they could usher in the New Year with happiness. My advice—step away from the money pits looking to take advantage of customers and make the most of this holiday season with those who matter most.