I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I’m just not feeling it, and I’m not sure why. All I know is I don’t seem to be the only one.
There’s probably several reasons. I’ve hardly done any shopping yet (I’ve started, but barely). I’m working in retail now (which could be worse). It seems unseasonably warm, even for Colorado (we’re a week out, and it’s in the 60’s). But mostly I think it has to do with the air of desperation hanging around the season this year.
It started before Thanksgiving this year. Now, I haven’t watched television regularly in years, but seemed the onslaught of holiday commercials invaded the airwaves earlier and with more ferocity than in years past. There were the requisite jewelry commercials: “How will she know you LOVE her if you don’t buy her DIAMONDS? Come spend your entire paycheck!” There were the pre-Black Friday sale adverts: “Who wants to spend time with their families when you can spend too much money on things you don’t need? COME ON DOWN!” And of course, the annual holiday specials: “Isn’t this time of year great? BABY JESUS RULES!”
And it doesn’t seem to be letting up. Practically everything I see seems to have a subtext that says: “Spend money! Enjoy yourself! If you aren’t ho-ho-happy, you’re doing it wrong! ENJOY SPENDING MONEY!” But for as widespread as that message is, it rings hollow. It’s like the ones saying it know it isn’t true, but need to keep up appearances lest the lurkers in the dark snatch them into the depths.
As a result, I think, the entire season is ringing false this year. And I don’t think it’s just me being especially cynical, mostly because that would be really sad. I mentioned on Facebook recently that a Doctor Who special filled me with more holiday cheer than all the Christmas songs, commercials, and knickknacks combined, and that’s true. Watching that episode filled me with the most holiday cheer yet, fleeting as it was.
But even if it isn’t just me, is this a new phenomenon? Or am I only now catching on to it? In years past, I’ve had the end of the semester to mark time; even before I went back to grad school, I worked on a college campus, and the rhythm of the school year was inescapable: once the holidays came and the final push was over, things wound down. But working in retail, it’s the opposite: things have been go-go-go since Black Friday, and likely won’t let up until after the new year.
Maybe that’s the problem: the lack of landmarks (like finals) has left me without a reference point. Has left me waiting for a cue that isn’t coming. Maybe the lack of final stress and focus has allowed me to see beneath the veneer of joviality. I don’t know.
But I hope it’s not just me.