It’s the most wonderful time of the year. While most of us are wondering how time seems to fly by and how the holiday season is upon us already, others are thinking about all the best parts as a fun way to get into the spirit.
While the winter weather surely brings seasonal sentiments to the island, there are a slew of kitsch elements that remind us why there are more Grinches than merrymakers, making the holiday season a subject of intense discussion.
First and foremost, there is the music. Christmas music is without a doubt the most annoying genre ever conceived, including commercial jingles designed to be just on the verge of becoming excruciatingly awful, yet catchy enough to turn into earworms. Although some of the songs bring back good memories, there are several with a sexual undertone, such as Santa Baby, in which the performer heavily flirts with Santa to receive some expensive gifts.
When one thinks of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is family gatherings and gifts, but another thing that comes to mind is food. While the season is associated with rich fruit cake, mince pies and other holiday favourites depending on which side of the world one is on, the advent calendar is perhaps one of the most popular items that finds its way into almost every home in one way or another.
As the first day of December arrives, everyone eagerly anticipates the opportunity to open the first window of their advent calendars; however, whether due to temptation, a severe lack of willpower, or the depression brought upon by the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East that have made this year one of conflict and disastrous humanitarian consequences, many people have eaten the entirety of their advent calendars in one sitting.
Another Christmas misconception is that everyone enjoys shopping. When the cost of living has made holiday shopping both tiresome and expensive, most individuals find it difficult to portray themselves as warm, generous, thoughtful and giving. Fights over parking spots, insufficient supply of advertised sale items, rushing past swarms of people in overcrowded malls – everyone’s patience has thinned, their tone has become less courteous, and their nerves are profoundly stressed.
Then there’s the film industry, which must deal with an infinite loop of Christmas movies such as Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, The Holiday, Love Actually, and It’s a Wonderful Life – arguably the finest Christmas movie of all time. There is also the perennial controversy about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. Throughout its 132-minute run time, the film obviously uses its Christmas setting both creatively and humorously; it takes place during a holiday office party, there are presents involved, Santa Claus makes a brief visit, and it snows at the very end. If anyone says differently, feel free to use these talking points.
But my biggest and most controversial issue is with the Hallmark franchise and its predictable endings, with audiences able to figure out the entire narrative after the first five minutes into the film.
Everyone who has seen at least two Hallmark Christmas films has noticed that they follow a formula, are infused with saccharine, poorly acted performances, are hardly reflective of reality in any way, shape, or form, and are clearly an advertising vehicle for a major corporation whose ethos is centred on sentimentality.
There is always a lonely, stressed-out, big city career woman – often played by an actor who was once popular in a sitcom whose name viewers cannot recall – who gets stuck in a small country town at Christmas time, falls in love with the local, hardworking, and often misunderstood, easy on the eye ‘Adonis’, and chooses to give up wealth and success to marry the wholesome and charming artisan.
But, I suppose, the plot is not the most important aspect of these films. It is more about the warm, pleasant and relaxed sentiments they bring, as well as the nostalgia and love of Christmas, and they serve as the ideal entertainment to watch while unwinding from the day’s stress. They also serve as an escape mechanism from the reality of the disarray around us, giving the impression that the world may be perfect despite the difficulties.
As a result, we ought to overlook the season’s clichés and embrace the spirit of connectedness by getting out of our comfort zones and immersing ourselves in the season’s traditions and festivities, taking the time to bond with family and friends, sharing experiences with new people, watching cheesy Christmas films, listening to those ‘timeless’ classics and looking forward to the inevitable Christmas indulgence, whether it turns out to be ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’.