commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree#/media/File:Christmas_tree_sxc_hu.jpg CC BY-SA 3.0
Many folks prepare for the Christmas holiday for weeks; decorations, food preparation, and (of course) the frenzied shopping for gifts. It is sometimes an orgy of consumerism, although thankfully, some people in the world have turned away from this (Join the Christmas Resistance!). What has always bothered me about the holiday season is the push for people to get gifts at a specific time of the year, put on a happy face, and be in a jolly, giving (and forgiving) mode, and generally forgetting about the rest of the year. This observation is brought up by more than a few folks, with admonitions and attempts to keep that “Christmas spirit” around at least past the second week of January. Mostly, the hustle and bustle of modern life takes control at about the same time the Christmas trees are being tossed out, and society goes back to its regularly scheduled ways.
People do tend to get philosophical during the season, and yes, it is good that donations tick up a bit, and some people, at least for a short while, put aside their more selfish ways and thoughts. Holidays can focus a community and family, and can remind us of what is important. For sure, the various holiday specials and movies try to convince us of such. As we like to say, “all well and good,” but our society still rockets along an unsustainable trajectory, with no happy ending in sight.
There are a few other holidays and dates that share idealistic worldviews, centered around specific ideas:
- St. Valentine’s Day – about romance
- Memorial Day – about remembering the fallen
- The Fourth Of July – about remembering how we became independent
- Labor Day – about the workers in society
- Thanksgiving Day – about giving thanks for our family and fortune
- Veteran’s Day – about remembering veterans
- New Year’s Day – about new beginnings and new resolutions
There are others, of course, but these are the biggies. One of the more modern ‘holidays’ is Earth Day, and likewise, it is centered on a specific idea; having people think about ecology, environmental protection, and our impact on the earth. One of those snappy comebacks that my parents gave when we complained that “there is no Children’s Day!” (there is, of course) is that, “Every day is ‘Children’s Day.’ Likewise, there are those who have said the same about environmental protection; “Every day is Earth Day.”
It takes some wind out of your sails when you see people go to Earth Day, listen to speeches, and really think about their own environmental impact… and then go back to their own ways a few days or weeks later. This isn’t to say that Christmas, Thanksgiving, Earth Day and so on should be banned. But certainly, these events and holidays have been so hyped and warped by consumerism that we’ve lost track of the entire point of these days and holidays.
- How do we bring back the true meaning of Christmas, Earth Day, Thanksgiving, or any of our national or societal holidays? How do we change the way we “celebrate” them?
- Which holiday has been perverted the most? The least?
- How much success have we had in turning back consumerism during these yearly markers [kudos to REI for trying to turn back the tide on Black Friday, for example]?