Let’s put an end to OCD: obsessive Christmas disorder
I woke up on the first day of November to find myself engulfed by a series of ads for snowman cookie cutters and scented candy cane candles all over my Twitter feed.
The word “Christmas” itself was trending around the world, as thousands of people were prepared to ditch their pumpkin spice lattes and start their days with a peppermint hot chocolate.
It was overwhelming. To say the least.
Every year, it seems that our society becomes more and more anxious about the holidays, to the point where I have no shame to call it an unhealthy obsession and / or a limit fixation.
As a European who moved to North America a few years ago, the culture shock overcame any preconceptions I had of traditional North American holidays, but what I was certainly not prepared for was the massive wave of Christmas capitalism taking over. all aspects of one’s life. life every November to January.
I soon realized that Christmas cheer cannot be escaped in the western world.
There’s nothing like watching a TV show, listening to a radio channel, or walking through a retail store without being somewhat infused with Christmas soundtracks and a mix of Michael Bublé hits during the Christmas season.
I come from a small town in northern Italy that, at best, was characterized by a single Christmas tree centered on the main square. Although it wasn’t much, it symbolized our community as a whole and we were happy with that. We knew our Christmas celebrations were focused on the blessings of our family and not the number of inflated Santa Claus or realistic-looking sleighs we installed in our front gardens. It just wasn’t about that.
Why the obsession with Christmas?
Is it because eating more becomes more socially acceptable? Is it because spending more money (even on yourself) is more justifiable than usual? Or is it because deep down inside us this feeling of melancholy that makes us want to romanticize every little aspect of our monotonous life?
I can’t help but feel that Christmas has truly become our society’s calling to profit from lonely people who don’t have much to wait and struggle to find a way to distract themselves from life’s myriad obstacles.
Why is it so fashionable to shop for the newest holiday home decor, order the latest shiny wrapping paper, and buy ugly Christmas sweaters until our wallets are empty?
During the holidays, companies around the world exploit customers for more profit and each year our society gives in and begins to decorate the tree earlier than the previous year. Does this mean that we are increasingly desperate for a distraction? Or that we are simply a country of happy people?
The older you get, the easier it is to perceive Christmas as an expensive holiday that’s more about buying matching pajamas and getting more likes on Instagram than following a family-based tradition.
It is important to insist that I am not the Grinch; I don’t hate Christmas. I am also an avid latte and sugar cookie consumer and love to drive around my neighborhood to admire all the Christmas lights, but nonetheless recognize the consumer frenzy that the holidays have inevitably become.
As cliche as it sounds, some truth lives on inside those oversized Christmas Hallmark movies; Holidays should focus on family, tradition, and joy, and certainly not on our own wants and needs.
I find no pleasure in shedding light on the dark side of Christmas, but it is still important to underline that this constant state of euphoria during the holidays is not the status quo and does not need to be normalized; it’s okay not to be constantly happy during the holiday season.
Where did I come from? That inner emptiness within us still exists, although my family taught me to solve problems with a homemade Italian-style meal instead of buying all the Christmas-scented candles at Bath and Body Works.
I suggest we go back and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, whether by taking a more religious or family-oriented approach, and away from intricate advent calendars and LED snow globes.
Although, we can still do all of that while enjoying a cup of peppermint hot cocoa.
There is nothing wrong with adorning the hallways and ringing bells once the ghosts and Halloween goblins are eliminated. Not only do I say that, so do researchers from the university of texas.
And it is important to note that this is not a new trend. As early as 1912, the Quebec Daily Telegraph print ads in October reminding consumers to start thinking about their Christmas gift shopping.
Fast forward to this year and a survey conducted by Leger on behalf of the Retail Council of Canada found that 30 percent of Canadians said they would like to start their Christmas gift shopping before the end of October, while 36 percent planned to start in November. Consumerism plays an important role, but for the first buyers they also obtain benefits that last over time.
When thinking of others, you experience a “help rush”, which according to research helps reduce feelings of stress; something frequent during the holidays. That is, 85 percent of the respondent from US research company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, said the lack of time during the season was extremely stressful. There is pressure to shop, decorate, visit family, all in a few weeks.
To ease the tension organization experts Recommend preparing early and spreading out your most treasured holiday activities, such as tree trimming or family parties, over a longer period.
Other studies show that being surrounded by Christmas decorations and festivities creates a neurological change which produces serotonin, dopamine and other endorphins connected to the brain’s pleasure center. This creates feelings of happiness, increases energy, decreases feelings of depression, and improves the immune system.
Enjoying those health benefits for more than a few weeks starting in late November can only be a good thing. In 1989, the researchers discovered that houses with displays of Christmas lights seemed more sociable to neighbors.
But beyond science, I think the intangible is the reason the holidays seem to start earlier each year. Psychologists say, people want to associate with what made them happy in the past. All Christmas decorations and traditions are often related to the good times we spent with each other or when, as a child, what was expected, at Christmas, really happened.
The belief that the impossible is possible: a child born in a stable of a virgin mother or an old man in a red suit who, on Christmas Eve, goes around the world in a sleigh powered by reindeer delivering toys. The longer the celebration, experts say, the longer those happy nostalgic feelings will last.
Last year, during the second wave of the pandemic, I wrote that the holidays were about believing in the impossible. Public health restrictions had canceled Christmas light displays, family gatherings, and parties were limited. It seemed there was little to celebrate. I decorated early, hoping that when the holidays were over, life would have regained some sense of normalcy. During the dark days of a pandemic, celebrating early and extending the season kept me and the neighbors, who enjoyed the outdoor light display, happy, connected as a community, and positive.
This month, British Columbia experienced record flooding in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver. I have friends who live in Chilliwack, the eastern end of the flood zone. During the height of the crisis, some posted photos on social media showing that despite a possible evacuation, they were holding out hope and decorating their homes for the holidays.
And that’s why eggnog and tinsel in October makes sense. Academics at the University of Texas Center for Humanities and Ethics say life can feel out of control. The rituals associated with the holidays provide a sense of personal empowerment, structure, meaning, perhaps even hope. And in a world experiencing the ravages of climate change and deep social divisions, hope may be the only salvation. If Christmas reminds us that we shouldn’t give up, that the brightest days are possible, then the sooner it starts, the better.
In “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge sees no point in Christmas. Can’t wait for it to finish. On Christmas Eve he is visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and shows him the errors of their ways. He realizes the goodness and hope of what Christmas is and says that he will honor Christmas in his heart and try to keep it throughout the year.
How early is too early to stop celebrating the hope of what Christmas represents?
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