Love: the root of what makes holidays meaningful

How the hustle and bustle of everyday life can blind people from the holiday spirit

It’s that time of year again — the holiday season. Some people look forward with excitement and joy to the months of November and December, and others dread them with every bone in their body. There rarely is a feeling of indifference toward this time of year, mostly because Thanksgiving and Christmas hold massive amounts of emotional ties to them.

I will admit, I am one of those people who blasts Christmas music on Nov. 1, and the carols become repetitive relatively quickly, so that once Christmas actually comes, I am back to listening to country or pop music. Yet each year, I find myself itching to start celebrating Christmas at the first sight of snow — ironically, the first snowfall happened to be on Nov. 1, 2019.

You may be wondering why I am talking about Christmas when Halloween just passed a few days ago (yes, I am one of those people), but I bring it up because all too often, the holiday season is viewed through a very materialistic lens instead of  an emotional and heartfelt perspective.

This materialist perspective, though, is not totally self-inflicted. We walk through the aisles of Costco in the middle of October and find Christmas trees and decorations for sale, completely neglecting Halloween and Thanksgiving and fast-forwarding directly to Santa Claus and his magical reindeer. The holiday season has become a result of commercialization, and yet people don’t fight back against this trend.

Instead, we find ourselves saving up year-round to be able to afford the most elegant gifts, leaving our bank accounts drip-dry and in dire need of replenishment, knowing in the back of our minds that we fully intend on doing the same exact thing next year. That is the mentality of the holiday season — giving, yet also receiving, an ample amount. Yet, when we sit back and truly reflect, giving and receiving can take place on any day of the year, so why are we so laser-focused on that aspect of the holiday season when this time of year is supposed to be a unique and magical one?

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we become numb to the importance of the holiday season, especially the most popular of them all: Thanksgiving and Christmas. When people think of Thanksgiving, they think of the great food on the dinner table and even better sales at the stores, and when people think of Christmas, they think Christmas cookies and gifts. But what we don’t realize is that behind the food comas and “buy one, get one free” deals is the importance of recognizing the true meaning of the holiday season — love.

As cliché as it sounds, without love, the holidays aren’t worth celebrating. The fancy dinners aren’t worth having if you aren’t surrounded by those who love you. Presents aren’t worth giving if they aren’t given with the intention to bring joy to others. This exact love is why I set my alarm to ring “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas” on the morning of Nov. 1.

I believe that everyone should have the same excitement level toward the holidays as a child does, while harnessing the ability to find some sort of sentimentality to this wonderful time of year. I can still ever so slightly smell the scent of Christmas cookies in my grandma’s oven, with the “Christmas with the Rat Pack” album making the perfect background noise. I can still picture the life-size Santa Claus in the corner of the room that would dance if you pressed a button on his toe.

Everyone has their favorite Christmas memory, one that may bring a tear to their eye just by thinking about it — I know I have many. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs with my siblings waiting to hear my parents tell us we could come downstairs on Christmas morning — you haven’t seen competitive until you’ve seen the all-out race to the family room to witness the “magic” of Christmas, but that’s beside the point.

What I didn’t realize back then was that beneath all of the gifts and holiday treats was laughter, memories and love, all of which last much longer than anything that could be waiting under the Christmas tree.

Too often, as we get older, we lose the magic of the holiday season. We no longer have the excitement we once had as children, and when we once started holiday prepping weeks in advance, we now find ourselves outside decorating days before, and dreading every minute of it. The song “The 12 pains of Christmas” is the perfect representation of modern day attitudes toward the holidays — if you haven’t already heard it, I advise you to look it up.

Faith Hill sang it best in her rendition of “Where are you Christmas?” with the lyrics, “Where are you Christmas, why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? Where is the laughter you used to bring me? Why can’t I hear music play? My world is changing, I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too?”

The world has a way of changing your perspective of the holidays, and often we lose the love and magic we once felt when we were kids. My challenge to you is to try to view this holiday season through the lens of a child. It is OK to be excited — believe me, I am. Less than 50 days until Christmas, but don’t overlook Thanksgiving — we all have an abundance to be thankful for this year.