It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Caitlin Barbour and Megan Schendel

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The sight of twinkling lights and shiny garland, the smell of freshly baked gingerbread and peppermint candy canes, the sound of jingling bells and Christmas carols, only one holiday can bring back such nostalgia. The holiday season, in all its forms, is arguably one of the best times of the year.

    From childhood, December just seems to hold a certain kind of magic. Picking out Christmas trees, baking cookies, writing letters to Santa, everyone may have their own traditions and memories for the holiday season but the wonder and excitement felt ties everyone together. No matter how old people may be, what background they might have, the “Christmas spirit” is contagious. As kids, the world becomes one of magic; a jolly old man in a red suit flies across the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, delivering presents around the world all in  one night. From mall Santas to reply letters from the North Pole, adults go to such lengths to perpetuate the story; there is a general understanding that no one is to tell them that Santa isn’t real — a universal, but unspoken taboo. Because of this, children are able to experience magic outside of TV shows and movies, which in turn gives them the impression that anything can happen.

    Even if people may outgrow this belief, the holiday season is the one time of year that adults are able to once again look at the world with a childlike innocence and wonder. In contrast from the monotonous routine of adult life — full of work and responsibilities — people can wear silly hats or holiday sweaters, decorate their trees and houses, wrap presents in colorful wrapping paper and generally take part in the joyful (or dare I say, jolly) atmosphere.

    This sense of magic that is instilled in children, that even lasts into adulthood, promotes a feeling of goodwill that makes the holidays a season of giving. Whether it be giving presents to friends and family, donating to toy drives or giving spare change to the charity collectors outside of stores, there is an undeniable shift in attitude around the holidays. While the gifts themselves may often not hold much meaning beyond being the “it” toy of the year, the feelings behind the present remains. Each gift is given out of kindness to show that the giver cares for the receiver. (Afterall, why give a gift to someone you don’t care about?)

    When it comes down to it, Christmas is all about enjoying the holiday with people you love. The atmosphere that Christmas fosters offers a break from the normal everyday, encouraging people of all ages to give to others and spread good cheer each year.

Naughty List 

Christmas is a time of love and giving; a time to celebrate family and friends; “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” right? Wrong. The Christmas season officially begins on the third Friday of November — Black Friday. We spend an entire day declaring how thankful we are for everything and then proceed to spend the next 12 hours fighting over televisions that are 15 percent off. As if that isn’t bad enough, Black Friday continues to grow and grow every year, with sales now spanning an entire week and stores opening as early as 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving day — cutting into many people’s Thanksgiving dinner.

    Christmas itself is like a tumor, stretching further and further every year. This year, stores began selling Christmas supplies in October — nearly three months prior to Christmas. Department stores just skip right over Thanksgiving, going right from Halloween — a holiday centered around dressing up and eating candy —  to Christmas — a holiday focused on celebrating worldly goods. Alongside the holiday, consumers’ expectations of gifts during the holiday season have also grown. Driven by the ideas presented by corporations, thousands of people fall for the image of Christmas morning and a tree with a couple dozen gifts wrapped neatly underneath. Thousands of consumers max out their credit cards during the holiday season, with the average consumer spending almost $1000 on gifts each Christmas. Gone is the time where a small present under the Christmas tree was the only thing needed to make your children happy. This holiday, once used to teach children the importance of giving to others, now instills the spirit of materialism in hundreds of thousands of children from an early age  — ingraining the ‘if I don’t get this I’m going to die’ attitude in many.

    Furthermore, Christmas brings with it increased traffic and endless TSA lines with ‘over the river and through the woods’ usually involving delayed flights and dozens of people yelling at the help desk. If that’s not enough to deter you, the endless Christmas music is. Sure it’s great, until you’re forced to spend the next 340 days between Christmas and next December trying to get the songs out of your head just in time for it to start all over again. But, it’s okay because it’s all in the spirit of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday, right? Wrong, nobody really knows when he was born  — he could’ve been born in the spring for all we know.