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When Christmas Is Not So Merry

After I moved from New Hampshire to Florida it was difficult to equate Christmas/Holidays without the change of seasons.

Is It Illusion or Delusion?


All in their beds and I with my night cap upon my head

When you think of Christmas, it’s your childhood memories coming back, right? Next thoughts of traditions, gifts, foods, and shopping. There is Santa Clause, Yule Logs, and Egg nog, of course. Many will think of Macy's, pageants, and Christmas carols. Perhaps candy canes, stockings, and Christmas trees will pop up in your thoughts. but never did I consider a moment without those memories!

As children, we innocently participate in the whimsy of sugar plums dancing in our heads. So why is it so different now? What happens to us once we grow up? As adults, we become so busy that our thoughts prance around our time management, budget restraints, and who to delegate to bring the Figgy Pudding. We are doing the work of Christmas instead of feeling it. Some of us start to just move through the motions because it is what we think is expected of us.

For those of us lucky enough, we can carry Christmas a little longer living it through our children's eyes. However, it’s us in ”Santa’s” shoes to find that special gift for our child! We anxiously await our child's joyous reaction as they open the gift from "Santa"! Now, this can be a doubled edge sword and dubiously sharp as it stabs into our heart when the expected joy instead is shrieks of utter disappointment from your child. Of course, it is unknown to them that "Santa" had to sacrifice, scrimp, and save to secure that gift thought to have been significant enough to be in almost every conversation over the last year!

Not so long ago, the Christmas Season carried excitement, enthusiasm, and engagement from the week of Thanksgiving right through New Year. Is it me? Is it the world today? Or is it the loss of our childhood innocence that darkens the idealism of Christmas? I'm ..."unwrapping all these memories fighting back the tears it's just a different kind of Christmas this year"...

Everyone has a Different Kind of Christmas

Christmas In the News

Honestly, there is only one place to find news stories like these; so, thanks to the NEWS OF THE WEIRD, here are some reports you may or may not associate with either a BLUE CHRISTMAS or A MERRY CHRISTMAS. It may be just a different kind of Christmas.

Some callers to Boston's major homeless shelters became angry that their requests to help out this year on Thanksgiving and Christmas day were rejected because the shelters have too many volunteers on those days (yet too few on the other 363 days a year). A Boston Globe reporter found that volunteers even try to cajole officials to bump them up the waiting list (170 on one shelter's list, which started accumulating names in August), but express disappointment at suggestions that they help at less "popular" (and less prestigious) suburban shelters. [Boston Globe, 11-29-02]

In December, Australia's TV Channel 7 reported that many schools across the country, at the behest of the Australasian Performing Rights Association, were discouraging parents from making keepsake movies of their kids' appearances in Christmas musicals, because recording the holiday songs might violate copyright law. [Seven Network Ltd. (Australia), 12-22-03]

Every Dec. 24 in Sweden, at 3 p.m., a third to a half of all Swedes sit down to watch the same traditional television program that has marked Christmas for the last 50 years: a lineup of historic Donald Duck cartoons. According to a December report on, the show is insinuated in the national psyche because it was the first big holiday program when Swedes began to acquire television sets in 1959. Entire families still watch together, repeating their favorite lines. [Slate, 12-22-2010]

Because this past Christmas fell on a Sunday, nearly one Protestant church in 10 in the U.S. reported having canceled Sunday services that day out of fear of low attendance, as parishioners remained at home with family. (The poll, by Lifeway Research, noted also that other churches, while not canceling, had left services to their second-string clergy.) [Washington Post, 12-23-2011]

The Christmas Nativity scenes in northeast Spain's Catalonia region have, for three centuries, featured not only Mary and the Three Wise Men but the ubiquitous "caganer" icon, always portrayed with pants down answering a call of nature (and often so obscured in the scene as to popularize Where's-Waldo-type guessing by children). The origin of the caganer (literally, "pooper") is unclear, but some regard it merely as symbolic of equality (in that everyone has bowel movements). Catalonia is now home to artists who craft statuettes of religious figures poised to relieve themselves, and the franchise extends to renditions of sports figures and celebrities (and even a squatting President Bush). One family in Girona province sells about 25,000 a year, according to a November dispatch in Germany's Der Spiegel. [Spiegel Online, 11-25-08]

Christmas Madness: (1) In November, the upscale New York City menswear and accessories store Jack Spade removed from its holiday catalog a $40 frog-dissection kit (with a real carcass) after numerous queries from people wondering what in the world the store was thinking. (2) A holiday party for inmates at Britain's Peterborough Jail promised a fun time with Xbox and PlayStations, along with cash gifts of 5 pounds each (about US$9), which is greater than the value of the candy boxes the jail will give its guards for Christmas. (3) Police in Rock Hill, S.C., put a 12-year-old boy under arrest at the insistence of his mother after he had defied her and opened his Christmas gift three weeks early. [Reuters, 11-21-06] [The Sun (London), 11-25-06] [The State (Columbia, S.C.), 12-6-06]

Melody Howell of Richburg, N.C., expanded her collection of full-sized, designer-decorated Christmas trees this year to 52, all placed inside her 2,500-square-foot home. (Said Howell's adult daughter, "My mom is over the top. (E)verything she does is over the top." On the less joyous side, the city council in Kingston Upon Hull, England, prohibited its trash collectors from wearing their traditional Santa hats this year, declaring that the hats "(do) not create a professional impression." [Wilmington Star, 12-10-06] [The Sun (London), 12-9-06]

Because jellyfish genes contain a protein that turns green, scientists have used them frequently in recent years in genetic modification work, including the protein's introduction into a potato to enable the spud to glow when it needs water (Scottish Agricultural College, June) and its proposed introduction into a Douglas spruce to create Christmas trees with glowing needles (Hertfordshire University, England, October). A similar process can be done with firefly genes, which was proposed for the Douglas spruce project and is also now being done with zebrafish in order to produce organisms that light up when they detect certain water pollutants (University of Cincinnati, December).

Yule Log Fire

Returning to the TV screen on Christmas morning was the WPIX-TV (New York City) "Yule Log," a two-hour "program" consisting of a shot of a log burning in a fireplace; it garnered a 3.1 rating (10 percent of all TVs on at the time) and helped the station to its day-long ratings victory. And Andy Park, 42, of Melksham, England, is still going strong, though concerned about his health recently; 10 years ago, he decided that Christmas dinner was so tasty that he should eat it (turkey and all the trimmings) every day of the year, and he figures he has since consumed more than 5,000 helpings of turkey, 7,300 helpings of mince pie and 8,000 glasses of sherry. [Yahoo-Variety, 12-27-01] [Western Daily Press, 12-24-01]

About 50 inmates at a Portuguese prison refused to eat special Christmas lunches because the bread, usually freshly baked, was not, due to bakeries having closed early the day before (Belas, Portugal). Police said a 29-year-old woman ordered her 11-year-old daughter to help her shoplift clothing, including some items the woman later returned to the girl as Christmas presents (Fort Myers, Fla.). [News Ltd. (Australia), 12-23-03] [Agence France-Presse, 12-26-03] [St. Petersburg Times-AP, 12-25-03]

And a Cloverdale, Australia, terminal cancer patient complained that he suffered through an agonizing Christmas because a Greenpeace protest shut down the Sydney nuclear reactor that makes his high-tech pain-relieving radioisotope Quadramet. [Washington Times, 12-17-01] [Tampa Tribune, 2-13-02] [Sunday Times (Perth), 1-13-02]

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And finally but not least, The Jerry Seinfeld show aired an episode that was written by scriptwriter Dan O'Keefe. This episode became famous or infamous among fans because it focused on commercialism at Christmas. O'Keefe came up with a fictional celebration called Festivus. "The holiday's celebration, as it was shown on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, "Airing of Grievances" and "Feats of Strength", and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles".

Father Christmas

The trappings of mankind

The trappings of mankind

Come Adore Him

From the holiday's conception, there has been controversy and growing pains. Contrary to what you may think, Christmas hasn't always been around. Actually, I really never thought about it before, but it had to start some how. Originally, Christmas was a form of celebration feasts honoring winter solstice. It came at the time of year when live stock would be butchered because there would not be enough feed for them the rest of the winter. Even of more importance for some, it is also the time grapes and other fermented items become ready. So, at this point there is an abundance of fresh meats that couldn't keep and kegs of drink that no longer needed to be kept. Therefore, the feasts could commence.

Winter Solstice is marked by the day of the year which is the shortest daylight and the longest night. The celebration traces back to early beginnings of time, as early as the year 900 and before. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (It is believed that the celebration of this day was a worship of these peculiar days, interpreted as the reawakening of nature. Julblotet was eventually integrated into the Christian Christmas. As a remainder from this Viking era, the Midsummer is still important in Scandinavia, and hence vividly celebrated.

The beginning of the pagan day, which in many cultures fell on the previous eve.[4] Because the event was seen as the reversal of the Sun's ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures which used cyclic calendars based on the winter solstice, the "year as reborn" was celebrated with reference to life-death-rebirth deities or "new beginnings" . Also "reversal" is yet another frequent theme, as in Saturnalia's slave and master reversals. Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. Sometime before 352 AD, he decided December 25th to be the day celebrating "the Nativity". The custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.

Christmas started taking on certain rituals of a collection of festivals. For our purposes, it is enough to elaborate further toward just the sentiments associated with Christmas, rather than digging deeper into it's origins. The 1600's through to 1800's Christmas did not resemble the format which we recognize. Due to primarily, religious reasons (ironically) Christmas was frowned upon by the Puritans/Pilgrims because it was based on pagan rituals.

Criticized for its commercialization, Protests against the pagan origins, and now subject to the political correctness instigated by other beliefs including agnostic, atheistic, or as a compromise from fear of offending others still plaque the Christmas holiday today. Sometimes, these societal growing pains or even our personal prejudices cramp our Christmas spirit. Intermittently throughout history, there are times that Christmas is relatively non-existent.

Bah Hum Bug

During a different era, old holiday television specials spurred sightings of Santa and homage to one of our holiest days of the year. However, it did not always automatically turn on like a switch! Honestly, Christmas hasn’t really been around as long as you think! History has shown times of indifference on Old St. Nick and other symbols of the holiday including the religious sanctity of it all.

For instance, prior to the publishing of THE CHRISTMAS CAROL, Christmas was all but extinct! One reason for the resurrection of the holiday rests with the impact from a Victorian literary character. The author, Charles Dickens character Scrooge and his story of the Christmas Carol hit more hearts than just Ebenezer’s. It seems showing us that the trappings of man's indifference could lead us to suffer eternity played an important part. With Scrooge, he was saved of his own damnation by the haunting of three spirits, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas Present, and the ghost of Christmas future. A combination of Dickens' haunting of Britain's' populous and Prince Albert’s coincidental crucial contribution of his traditional German heritage put the light back into the season. That is why Dickens' actually came to be called "Father Christmas" nicknamed due to his revitalization of Christmas.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Now that we have pieced together how the Pope decided on December 25 as the date for Christmas, we have also discovered how our more decorated traditions came about, and we also determined why the sentiments of the holiday are so dear to us. So, to carry on, how did the birth of Christ and Santa Claus come together as one celebration?

During a time of respite from the Christmas holiday, much like we learned earlier, both England and America created a new degree of celebration. Christmas didn't become an official holiday until June 26, 1870. For America, the Revolution caused many customs to cease because as the taste of independence grew. Christmas was just one of them affected. Interestingly enough though, the similarity between the United States and England's resurgence of the holiday is oddly related.

As mentioned earlier, the popularity of Christmas in England was partially due to the publications by Charles Dickens. Ironically, America's holiday renewal occurred about the same time and can rest in part on an American writer and also an illustrator for the modern portrayal of Santa Claus. A VISIT FROM SAINT NICHOLAS by Clement Moore 1822 gave us the story of our Santa as we now know him. He was based on St. Nicholas, a saint of giving. While the illustrator, Thomas Nast, used the TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS version of Santa in his idea and added more to his composite. Nast, contracted for Harper's combined a little of more of SINTERKLAAS (St. Nicholas) rather than Moore's version of the elf form from TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

An added accolade for Santa came to print when a little girl wrote a letter to the New York newspaper, asking if there was indeed a Santa Claus... "YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS". Unable to break the little girl's heart, the writer went on to exercise diplomacy in enlightening his readers to the possible existence if Santa was not real. So, without saying yes or no to her question, he eluded to the promise that there had to be a real Santa Claus.

It was the age of reformation, Victorian families validated themselves with extravagance but remained practical and utilitarian somehow. They expressed this philosophy architecturally, sociologically, and psychologically. For instance, for all practical purposes people think of the Victorian age as prim and proper; external appearances completely covered and etiquette stiff with formalities but internally, families were less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children. So when the opportunity to indulge under the guise of Christmas and Santa Claus, rather than observed as "spoiling" their children, the holiday celebrations fit. Even today, The sentiment of the holiday has the illusion of centuries old, yet it was only just reborn.

Wrapped in the Chains of Indifference

Book club

Book club

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Christmas dismay is a well documented! During several segments of our history, both sociologically and a personal standpoint, there are a number of reasons for our opposition to Christmas. One of the more common reasons is the hype and commercialism associated with the holiday. It is easy to lose the Christmas spirit, when one is battling the consistent sprawl of the Christmas creep. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was ”the FIRST official shopping day for Christmas”. Now, it has crept into late September, superseding even Halloween!

While Christmas does allow us to act like children again, it is not always captured the way we remember. We strive to relive the nostalgic feelings we once felt. The failure to accomplish those idealized memories can be an unforgiving folly. Whether you celebrate Christmas for the religious aspects, or you enjoy the festivities, or you follow tradition, it is commonplace to fall into a Christmas funk. “There are so many traditions associated with the holiday season that it can be an emotional roller coaster"...Read more at: .

As adults, we at some time will lose some of that Christmas magic because of factors beyond our control. The most common reasons for our dismay during the holidays involve finances, social relationships, or stress. Sometimes our emotions encompass all of the above due to loneliness and loss. However, on occasion success does filter through salvaging our Christmas spirit for a time and like Dr. Seuss's Grinch, we are able to capture that spirit again, we just have to be willing!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy or Not

Christmas Memories

Christmas is for Children

What is the lesson we should learn from this "Odd Christmas Story"? Remember that the odds are high you will have at least one Blue Christmas or more in your life time. If you do, it is important not to be discouraged. If you celebrate the sacredness of the holiday, it will be your faith that should shine and share with the secular world. For no other reasons, the act of unlocking your chains of indifference will lighten your heart toward your fellow man. Let your self be a kid again. Keep all your Christmas memories, treasure your holiday traditions, and indulge in your family for at least one day a year. Don't let your adult life lose your spirit for being young and enjoy every minute you have with dignity, diligence, and determination.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Tracey Walsh

What is Wrong With Christmas?

Tracey Walsh (author) from WINDSOR LOCKS, CT on February 03, 2016:

It common to be discontent at Christmas. It is us, as individuals, that can control our Christmas experience. For one reason or another, we forget what Christmas is about. Christmas is for Children... When Christmas is for religious celebrations, it should be your faith that shines and share with the secular world. HOWEVER, CHRISTMAS FOR EVERYONE ! For no other reasons, the act of unlocking your chains of indifference will lighten your heart. Let your self be a kid again. Keep all your Christmas memories, treasure your holiday traditions, and indulge in your family for at least one day a year. But more importantly, be willing to embrace a different kind of Christmas. Don't let your adult life lose your spirit for being young and enjoy every minute you have with dignity, diligence, and determination.

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