Smiles for the frowners / Salutes to the uppers / Boosts for the downers / May the day be the bowl of cherriest / And to all, the Merriest! -- June Christy
My Westword cohort Josiah Hesse just wrote a screed about why you should boycott Christmas -- and I couldn't disagree more. Although I can't pretend to argue the theological side or even the economic side of why Christmas is or isn't the best/worst holiday/thing America has bastardized, I felt compelled to come to the defense of Christmas.
I'm a giant child when it comes to the season, and am purely in it for the sensory experience. I'm atmosphere-oriented and Christmas is one of the few times of the year when people and places of business get a hall pass to be unabashedly kitschy and publicly weird with no fear of being called out for it. Slightly off-kilter-looking Santa figures and reindeer with anthropomorphic eyes and mouths get rolled out and perched on rooftops, and though they are not really my favorite decoration, generators running for hours just to power novelty-size inflatable versions of Snoopy in a Santa hat have become part of the cityscape that makes me love the Christmas season.
While Josiah's got plenty of good and fair reasons why he thinks this season sucks, I'm here to make a simple case: Christmas totally rules. See also: Five reasons why I boycott Christmas and you should, too
5) Christmas at the mall There is so much I love about the mall, but Christmas there is what I love best. Working in retail off and on for sixteen years, I've always looked forward to the shopping season (simply referred to as "holiday" in salesperson jargon) because it means things like an influx of candy in the break room and truckloads of puffy vests and fuzzy socks to stock and thus keep us salespeople busy. It also means more scheduled hours, which translates to more money and more opportunities to see my coworkers -- which, if you work at a place full of cool, eccentric humans like I did at Shirt Folding Store, is like going to high school everyday...if I were actually popular in high school.
The mall also looks pretty and smells delicious this time of year. The constant overload of shiny shit and faux-snow sprayed all over display windows and the deliciously assaulting scents of candles (which are supposed to smell like cookies baking but actually just reek pleasantly of hot piles of sugar and chemically-treated vanilla beans) are my favorite. Starbucks adds a layer of caramel Brulée and Pumpkin Spice lattes to the overall retail-scent profile as hordes of aimless humans fill a space that, come the post-holiday slump known as January, will cease to be anything more than an indoor shopping dustbowl.
The mall Santa, too, has his own special charm, though it depends on which mall Santa you visit. One time, Westword dared me to sit on as many Santa laps as possible and write about it. Which I did, of course, because I like a challenge, and well, I think mall Santas are cool guys. I'm probably biased, but the Cherry Creek Shopping Center tends to have the best Santa -- certainly the most personable and believable-looking. If there were some sort of a standard for a fictitious character, this guy would be the winner.
Plus, honoring Christmas at the mall is a good excuse to share the above clip of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Clark Griswold's cheap booby jokes aimed at a sales clerk. I never get tired of booby jokes. But speaking of holiday movies...
4) Christmas movies Once upon a time before movies were made available on demand any time of the year, networks only played Christmas movies during the holiday season. Netflix holds down the tradition pretty well by making certain titles just available during this season, which gives you a great excuse to watch Elf 300 times in a row. Or A Charlie Brown Christmas. Or Bad Santa. Or if you're a real sap, It's a Wonderful Life.
Yes, many of these films are hokey and hardly works of art. But again, it's about a feeling -- Christmas is a time of magic and suspended reality. That and, Home Alone is a just a really good movie.3) Christmas music
Bring. It. On. I'm a masochist when it comes to holiday songs. One of the hardest things aboutnot
working in retail this holiday season is that I'm severely lacking in hearingRun DMC's "Christmas in Hollis"
andThe Waitresses "Christmas Wrapping"
(which contains the sickest bass line in Christmas song history) a zillion times within a four-week period.
People who complain about Christmas music are grinches. Let us Christmas junkies have two whole months a year when we can hear Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" every time we step into the grocery store. If it bothers you that much, stay home and complain on Facebook about Breaking Bad being over.2) Christmas Lights
Christmas lights make everything better. Sometimes I wish I could see all-Christmas-lights-everything year-round, because I love them so much -- but I know that would make them less special, kind of like how Hostess used to make Sno Balls sometimes come in different colors depending on the season (or when the Broncos make the playoffs and the Denver factory made them orange).
Christmas lights have the ability to pacify me regardless of the context -- hanging on a tree or off a roof, decorating a restaurant or the shelf dedicated to your bong in your dorm. I love them all. They have a glow that can't be replicated, and that to me will always mean Christmas.
1) Unadulterated cheer and happiness Not that anyone needs an excuse to be happy, but all of these Christmassy elements put together just make me love the shit out of this holiday. The whole season is an excuse to eat too much candy and get sick on eggnog. It's the only reason I need to sing Elmo & Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and not look like an total asshole. It's the time of year when I get to drool over light-up Virgin Marys and psychedelic Christmas light displays decorating every other house on my block.
It's also a reason to get together with family. I'm lucky and my family stopped exchanging gifts a half a decade ago, so there's no pressure on anyone's finances or the risk of offending someone with your bad taste in presents. So many of my friends who disappeared to big-time big cities like New York and Los Angeles also come around during this season, and we get to hang out and I get to watch them get drunk (which is a lot more fun than it sounds.)
But mostly, it is the excuse to be as nice to each other as we should be year-round. You don't have to love Christmas to enjoy this sacred holiday of scented candles and plastic trees, but liking it a little bit makes the end of the year go by much faster. And then you can revel in it being a new year, and having eleven whole months of zero silly Christmas things to deal with. Or if you're like me, you'll be busy trying to integrate Christmas lights ambiance into your adult life without your home ending up looking like your living room in college that was also decoratively accented with empty liquor bottles.
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