Christmas is easily considered one of the happiest times of the year. Everyone gives presents to everyone else, there are beautiful decorations in homes and at stores and everyone is generally nicer this time of year. Some people live for Christmas and all the treats and joy it brings, but I think we've lost sight of what Christmas meant originally.
Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It was created to memorialize the day in which the Christian religion Lord and Savior was born, making this a very happy time for Christians. But since then, Christmas has become a little different. To avid Christians, Christmas is still very much a religious holiday, but ever since the first real depiction of St. Nick (a.k.a. Santa) in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823, Christmas has changed significantly.
The focus of Christmas really shifted from celebrating the birth of a savior, into a mythical figure flying around in a sleigh to give the good boys and girls of the world presents while they're asleep. The contrast is a little shocking but accurate. As a child in a blended family where Christmas and Chanukah mixed together, Christmas was the absolute best! Treats almost whenever, free gifts, and giving gifts was easy because you weren't expected to pay for what you got people. As I've gotten older, I noticed how skewered this rendition of Christmas is.
Recently, the moment Thanksgiving is over, Christmas seems to have permission to begin. For example, Black Friday only exists to give shoppers the chance to buy Christmas gifts a month in advance and on a big sale at that! But wait, Thanksgiving just ended, so if people start buying Christmas gifts a month in advance, that means that Christmas has turned into a month long ordeal. Which leads me to my next point.
Christmas has turned into the act of buying people presents to show that you care about them, but there are so many more meaningful ways to tell someone that you care. Sure, there are plenty of presents that have a meaning behind them that is certainly amusing and fun, but I can count on one hand how many times I've looked back on those presents and used them. Which shows that there's so much stigma to buy people presents. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to pass by the holidays and not buy your friends a present. It's this kind of "forced" joy and caring that bothers me.
Don't get me wrong; I love the fact that for a single month, New Yorkers become decent people because the holiday season almost forces them to, compared to the other 11 months... My real issue is the fact that people only feel the need to be nice to others for only week to a month of the year. Why can't everyone be decent every day? Wouldn't that be better compared to this fleeting moment that ends the moment that the New Year rolls around?
If everyone could make more of an effort to be a nicer person every day just by doing simple deeds like holding open doors, giving a dollar or two to those who need it, or just giving a little less homework over the break (cough cough), there would be a stigma to be kind year round. Not only will this improve society and how we treat each other, being nice during the holidays would feel much less forced, but more natural and enjoyable.