History in the Making

To the Grinches and Humbugs

*There are a few profanities in this post- not a lot, but there are some!*

In the last three days, I’ve seen no less than 25 34 (as of Tuesday morning) angry and bitter blog posts, Facebook rants, backhanded Instagram comments, and other pot shots at people celebrating Christmas right now. TWENTY FIVE. And I don’t have that many people in social media to draw from. And to that I have to say… Congratulations for shitting on people! Congratulations for going out of your way to make people feel bad. Congratulations for being an asshole! The holiday season makes me happy. It’s as simple as that, it makes me happy! So yes, I have started watching Hallmark Christmas movies, and I have started trying different Christmas cookie recipes, and I have started listening to Christmas music in my car. It makes me happy, and I didn’t realise that being happy was such an awful thing.

a letter to grinches

Holiday Happiness

I am in a wonderful group on Facebook, for people who love Hallmark Christmas movies. There are almost 4,500 like-minded folks there! And I also participate in the Christmas subreddit where there are nearly 40,000 of us who enjoy celebrating the season together. I have yet to see one person state that they are watching movies and baking and decorating and wrapping to spite someone, or piss someone off. Believe it or not, we are just doing it because it makes us happy. That’s it, that’s all. I understand that it’s now cool to be an asshole who hates on everything, but before you spread your anger and irritation, maybe stop and think.

I personally hate Halloween. I think it is a stupid holiday that is so far from it’s origins that it doesn’t even serve a related function. It’s cold (at least here in Winnipeg) and people have to spend a ton of money on candy to give out and it’s a lot of work for about 3 hours. However, if you want to celebrate Halloween because you enjoy it, I hope that you decorated your house, made witch’s hat cookies, made a pyramid of carved pumpkins, and scared as many people as you want! Why? Because I want you to enjoy the things you love, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t like it. You don’t need to hear my thoughts on it while you are getting on your costume or setting things out for your Halloween party. So why do people feel compelled to do this with Christmas?

Retail Conspiracies

“Stores put Christmas lights and ornaments and presents out too early!” “Why are window displays up NOW?” “I’m tired of these commercials already.” Retail companies put things out for sale based on research and past trends. They put Christmas things out in September and October because people will buy them in September and October. They wouldn’t continue to put it out if it wasn’t selling. Just because you aren’t buying it doesn’t mean someone is. And when I say this to people, I often hear “People are sheep and will buy what stores tell them to buy.” Uhhh, no. I have free will and am purchasing specific items on purpose because I have put thought and research into it. For many people, it is also sheerly a budgeting issue- I can’t afford to put out that much money in 2-3 paycheques, so I get started in July with presents and October with decorations. I actually wish that ornaments were available a little bit earlier because it doesn’t give me much time to buy them if I am sending them internationally!

In any case, those stores aren’t setting their seasons according to any of us- it is down to data. And in case you haven’t paid attention, it isn’t just Christmas stuff that comes out early. When I worked at a clothing store, we were receiving short sleeve tops for spring in the middle of February when we had 8 weeks of snow left. And school supplies come out in June for September. And Halloween stuff usually comes out in August… Just because you don’t seem to think that planning ahead is a viable option doesn’t mean that the rest of us want to wait until an item is desperately needed to purchase it.

Also, in regards to the commercials thing- you are a better person than I am if the only commercial that annoys you is a Christmas advert. There are commercials that irritate the life out of me year round, and somehow I manage to stay alive. I don’t know how this miracle has happened, but I’m still kicking.

Christmas Store

The Holiday SEASON

For those of you who claim that Christmas is one day only, or it’s the twelve days of Christmas, or only December, historically, you are wrong. Not sure what history books you have been reading, but historically the holiday season started in November and ended in mid-January (aside from Scandinavian countries who admirably extend it to February). I will have more posts coming on the history of the holiday season, but the holiday season has never been just one day. Never. It is a season, because we are heading in to the darkest and coldest part of the year, and these celebrations would help you buck up to face the winter coming. It didn’t come into being to anger or annoy people. It developed over time to bring people together to be happy and joyful and bring light and greenery into a dark time of dead plants… (Follow up posts on the history will be coming but I would recommend reading Christmas in the Crosshairs by Gerry Bowler to get started.)

Ravenclaw Christmas Tree

Spreading Joy

What I love most about the holiday season is that when people are people are happy, they give more! They give to philanthropic causes, they give to the people around them, they give food and items and time, and that is wonderful. How many people suddenly remember in December that their local food bank could probably use donations? And how many people give scarves and mittens and blankets in the winter to shelters? Those food banks and shelters still have very high need levels year round (albeit different needs), but I’m happy to know that people are at least thinking of them in the holiday season. Most holiday drives (including the Shoebox Project) are doing their drives NOW, not in December. (Because the donations are given out in December, and these organisations need time to organise and get them out…) And as someone who has organised drives in November, have some holiday music playing and Christmas cookies available puts people in a much better mood, which means they typically will donate more.

Shoeboxes full of gifts to donate to women in shelters

Thoughtful Cheer

I try to be very thoughtful with my Christmas-ing and holiday-ness. If I know that someone hates the holidays, I won’t shove it in their face. I won’t go out of my way to invite them over for holiday movies and baking and crafting because I recognise that it isn’t their thing, and I respect that. I know that there are someone people who are quite abrasive with it, but for the most part, most of us elves are happy to celebrate in our own little bubble.

How about the next time you talk or post about a sports season that isn’t starting for 6 weeks I remind you that I think you are an imbecile for trying to get into the season early? And the next time that you want to celebrate your 33rd birthday week, I’ll be sure to make comments around you that I think anyone would do that is an ass. And National Coffee Day or whatever made up day you are celebrating, I’m going to make a passive aggressive post making sure that you know what I think of you. That’s what thoughtful adults do, right? We go out of our way to be intentional assholes and crap on the things that make people happy? Okay, as long as we are all on the same page!

Christmas tree brownies

As a wonderful poster commented on my Christmas post last year, “You know, if you took out all the Christmas, your post would still be perfectly relevant. Stop and think before you blast another human for living happily.”

So, to the (self-proclaimed) Grinches and Humbugs out there, I promise I won’t bug you with holiday things. You may have to unfollow me on social media, but I promise I won’t send you links or invite you to holiday parties or try to change your opinion, because I appreciate that you’ve put thought into it. I hope that you have a wonderful November and December, whatever that means for you!

Cheers,
The Historian
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12 thoughts on “To the Grinches and Humbugs”

  • So as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas my perspective is slightly different. I shall try not to rant, and I have thought about this for a few hours before posting any comments so apologies if I start ranting/ swear.
    Like you, living in Canada means Thanksgiving, Halloween and Remembrance Day all come before Christmas. My major issue is with the stores, not with people putting up decorations early (although if you’re putting up Christmas decorations in August I gotta wonder- I mean Halloween is coming).
    My issues are 2 or 3 fold (they blend together a bit). I feel, as someone who celebrates Hannukah, that the emphasis in stores is always on Christmas, never any other holiday. This gets pushed in more when working retail and I wish someone “Happy Holidays” (used to say occasionally “Happy Hannukah” after they said “Merry Christmas”) either way I’d get a dirty look back. Why should what I say back be an issue? I’m not negating your holiday. In fact I don’t give a rats-ass what you celebrate. I’m just wishing you Happy Holidays- thereby encompassing every holiday- there are 3 celebrating at this time of year: Hannukah, Kwanza (apologies if it’s misspelled) and Christmas. All should be considered and acknowledged. This is where I feel Canada has become very Americanized and forgotten there are other religions that are celebrated here and it’s sad, especially since we are so multicultural.
    In regards to when people put-up decorations, and the Christmas music starts, it’s a mixed-bag. I get needing to feel happy, especially with the darkness and the changing of the clocks. I also feel we need to respect Remembrance Day and that get drowned out with the music and the decorations being up so early (more in stores than on houses). I personally like seeing what people do on their houses. And when I was younger, my mum always drove through a specific part of Toronto back from my grandparents house in winter so we could see the decorations and comment on it- this was post-Remembrance Day though. So yes, I get it, but I don’t love it. The music in stores I feel does not need to be started so bloody early- people get sick of it and studies have shown it leads to more anxiety and depression surrounding the holidays- and yes suicide rates do go up because there is so much pressure to be happy, be with family etc during that time. However, buying presents early so it works into a budget is a great idea- especially if you find something you know is perfect for someone.
    Finally, with regards to the movies, knock yourself out. I personally can’t wait for The Grinch to show on tv (the live action one).
    My point is- I hate it when people shove it in my face. I get pissed at the stores (my store isn’t starting holiday music until December- I’d rebel if it was sooner and I’ll probably try and get some Hannukah stuff mixed in for sanity) more than people. But if someone wishes you “Happy Hannukah/ Kwanza Holidays” don’t glare/ give dirty looks. Say “thank-you.” Or smile. And knock yourself out on staying happy/ sane when it gets so dark so early.

    • First of all, I am truly sorry that people aren’t using “Happy Holidays”. I almost solely use “Happy Holidays” because it does encompass everything, and you aren’t putting someone in an awkward position. When I worked at Chapters, we were specifically told not to say “Merry Christmas” for this very reason, and if a customer did offer you a holiday greeting that didn’t apply to you that you should graciously accept it in the spirit of the thought. (I like to think that is called being a respectful adult…) I do think that those are the people who aren’t changing their minds anyways, unfortunately, and to them I say, don’t be around humans if you can’t be civil.

      I actually don’t celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas/the holiday season! While Christmas obviously stems from religious beliefs, I am not practicing and religion isn’t in my holiday season. There is actually a lot of work being done on the secular holiday of Christmas in history that is fascinating, and I think truly makes it more accessible for anyone who wants. I appreciate and encourage anyone to observe their religious holidays but I don’t believe that they should be forced on anyone else. (My Christmas tends to be Rudolph, Nutcracker, Grinch rather than baby Jesus haha.)

      My bookstore did decorate for other holidays, including Hannukah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, and others. My hope is that more groups will speak up and share their holidays so that there is more awareness! On the store front, I do think that it comes down to strictly speaking with your money, sadly. While I personally HATE Halloween decorations (and I do mean hate), at the end of the day, I am not so upset with the stores that put them out in August that I won’t purchase something there if I need to. However, I completely respect everyone’s choice to refuse to shop somewhere for any reason.

      I have to disagree with people on the Remembrance Day issue- I personally put all holiday things aside on November 11th. I think to do otherwise is in poor taste. However, I do not believe that the men and women who died for us wanted us to stay in sombre and silent contemplation for over a week from Halloween until the 12th- they gave their lives for us to have our freedoms, and I choose to remember them by being joyous. I do hope that when I eventually pass, people celebrate life with happiness rather spend time in sadness for me. I also think that people should be remembering these men and women on more than just November 11, which is an entirely separate discussion.

      I tend to personally listen to a lot of jazz and orchestral holiday music that isn’t so in your face. There are also studies that show that music and decorating can also cause spikes in dopamine and positive chemicals in some people, so I think it is like everything where it is good for some and bad for others. Celebrating the holidays very much helps with my mental health issues, especially this year when they are really weighing down on me. It sucks to hear people continually ragging on something that is getting you through the day sometimes. I can recognise that they don’t know my struggles and don’t know what it means to me, but it also twists the knife a little bit further. Most of mine is in headphones though, so it really isn’t affecting anyone else!

      Thank you for providing your thoughts 🙂 I always love seeing your comments!!

    • I start in August, too!! I love thinking of how I will decorate my space at home and at work, what new recipes I will try, what I’ll give people, and it makes me so happy. No matter is going on for me, it will cheer me up. And if that’s a bad thing, I don’t know what the world has come to!

  • I hear ya. While I like to not rush the holidays and seasons — we still have Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S., and that is my fave holiday! — I don’t mind that some Christmas has started to seep in to my life. It’s pretty. And happy, like you said. I just went to a Christmas craft show this past weekend, and I was enthralled. And, yes, I bought Christmas gifts for people because I would rather buy them early than rush around like a maniac in December, during the “appropriate” season for such things.

    My husband and I are currently battling about when he can put the Christmas lights up on the house. We usually put them up the weekend after Thanksgiving (so, the 24/25 November this year), and he wants to put them up one week early so people coming by our house can see the Christmas decorations (since they probably won’t see them DURING the season). I am fighting him because I’m worried the neighbors will revolt, but, after reading your post, I am more inclined to drop my case. It really makes him happy, putting up those decorations and showing off his beautiful work on the house to his friends. So what if it’s ONE WEEK earlier than usual? So what if the neighbors are annoyed? (We don’t speak to them much anyway). I don’t wanna be a grinch. 😀 Thanks for the perspective. 🙂

    • I do completely recognise that our Canadian Thanksgiving is the second weekend in Monday, so it is a different ballgame in that regard! From what I’ve seen with a lot of people in the groups I am in, they put aside Christmas things for that week of Thanksgiving and then go back to Christmas  The US is definitely an anomaly, and I remember learning in my History of Christmas class that for many Americans, Thanksgiving is more important than Christmas! (To which I say, have a month long Thanksgiving celebration if that makes you happy!!)

      This is an incredibly busy and stressful time of year for me, work-wise (I work at a university). The days are getting super short, it has gotten cold pretty quickly, and after my break up last year, it is a difficult time in general. However, these small things (in the grand scheme of life) make me very happy, and make me feel like I can certainly get up and tackle the day! Literally, it is watching movies, listening to music, writing cards, and baking. And I have had people go out of their way to directly tell me what they think of that. I’m not bothered at all if people unfollow me, but other than my online prescence, I’m really not sure how it is affecting someone else. I think lots of house decorations are stupid throughout the year, and I just shrug and move on. I don’t leave notes or ruin their decorations or spread posts on social media, I just go about my day… This is 2018 and as woke and dialed in as people claim to be, they will still go out their way to be jerks. If any of your neighbours do say something, I would just give them a holiday card and some cookies haha. Kill them with kindness!

      I’m glad that I could bring more points to the discussion 🙂 I definitely think it is a discussion worth having, but it can feel very one-sided a lot of the time, so I very much appreciate your response!!

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