The Harbinger Online

Finally Wrapping Up the Holidays

We once watched this truly horrifying video in my Enviromental Education class. As the  scene panned out over a sub-Saharan watering hole, seven crocodiles nestled their head just above surface level. Even though I was wishing for a peaceful reptile feature, an inevitable wildebeest attempted to dart across the watering hole. The rest was splashing and ripping noises as we all averted our eyes.

I’ve felt like that wildebeest before.

I hate the holidays.

Whenever I talk about disliking the holidays in public, I get a lot of heat for it. But in my opinion, it’s an unfair criticism. I like the idea of the holidays, just not how they’re carried out.

Now tear me to shreds with your razor-sharp teeth, or better yet, stop reading because I’m sure that’s what a lot of people are going to do. But I promise it’s not as bad as it seems.

The season of giving often feels like everyone is more focused on themselves than any other time of the year. And this past year was no stranger to the truly cringe-inducing holiday moments, with  innapropriate news anchors, retailers opening even earlier on Thanksgiving day,and a seemingly more materialized season than ever before. That’s why I’m happy to finally be saying sayonara to the holidays for 11 peaceful months.

It’s true, I’ve never really gotten much out of the fa-la-la-la’s, and the snowy weather gets me down. But easily the worst part of the holidays is that it has the potential to be so much more than it actually is.

I can’t tell you how many holiday cards I’ve gotten touting the notion of peace on earth. But step into 21st century America between November and January, and you’ll quickly note the culture is far from peaceful. From the absurd parking lot tactics of holiday shoppers  (slam the breaks, lay on the horn, repeat), to the attitude I get flipped when I don’t  order up a pumpkin spice latte, it always feels like everyone is in a rush, and I should just walk (or more likely sprint) the opposite direction. The atmosphere is heightened and suddenly the world feels like a consumerist race to see who can obtain the best items, at the lowest prices, in the least amount of time.

I start each year with an open mind, ready to dive right into the holiday cheer. But every time my optimism is squashed. I hope that I will at some point realize my true love for Frosty and jump on the sleigh-bell-ringing bandwagon. But I can’t bring myself all of the perceivably warm and joyful parts, when the bad parts are so eminent and disturbing. There is nothing that brings out the worst in people more than the period between mid-November to Jan. 1. And don’t “bah humbug” me. 2013 took the awful attributes of the holidays to the next level.

This year was far more disappointing than most. It felt like the holidays weren’t even really the holidays, but rather six weeks of forced materialism. Although I am Jewish and celebrate Hannukah, I think I can gather the jist of what the Christmas spirit is. And I’m sad to say I barely witnessed it once.

Black Friday has never been America’s brightest hour. But this year it seemed that as the lights flickered on at 6 p.m. in Walmart on Thanksgiving evening, people turned into animals and the Black Friday savagery was rawer than ever. Perusing the internet last week, I found a website called Yes. You read that right. There is a website solely dedicated to recording the injuries and deaths of Black Friday shoppers since 2006. There have been officially seven deaths and 90 injuries on Black Friday since then. While the website might seem crass, the more I think about it, the less surprised I was.

I found myself almost numb to the fact that people were being trampled to death in order to snag the newest xBox. People have been killing each other over deals like half-priced televison sets and, according to ABC News’ article on Black Friday deals, an ever-classy camouflage reclining chair from Cabela’s.

No offense America, but we’re doing the holidays all wrong. That’s why I’m challenging everyone reading this column to a real-life bet. Next year, take the hours you would usually spend carefully crafting your gift wish-lists, or begging your parents for a new phone, and spend it volunteering. I guarantee you will feel far more fulfilled, and if you don’t feel free to come and hunt me down, crocodile-style.

So, what’s the deal? Can’t we put down our coupons, lay off the gas on the way to Walmart and enjoy the holidays for what they really are? They shouldn’t be a burden. The holidays are for giving thanks and random acts of kindness. Forget the decor, the frilly drinks, the unnecesary feuding and give the holidays a chance to be what they really are: peaceful.

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