From the Editor: Now that we’re big kids, the holidays just aren’t what they used to be
Columns / December 20, 2019
With each passing year, it becomes harder to tell if the holidays were immeasurably more magical as a kid or if the world just isn’t fit for fun anymore.
Admittedly, things get a little less whimsical after you find out Santa isn’t real or discover that the gently falling snow outside is actually due to an arctic vortex whipping unexpectedly into Western Canada (shout out for the white Christmas, climate change), but I believe there’s more to why you might find yourself a little low this winter season.
It’s sad to say, but the December blues so many of us feel stem from more than the fading of innocence and passing of childhood.
They also come from the unbearable weight of knowing everything about everything all the time — at the touch of a button, at the summoning of Siri, with a quick and informative glance at your Twitter feed that shows you way more of what goes through Donald Trump’s head than you ever cared to subject your senses to.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s still tons of whimsy in the holidays, even for jaded old crones like me. The world smells like cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. You get to eat special food, and there’s always a touch of excitement in the air as people buzz from the mall to their parents’ house to the liquor store and then back to their parents’ house again.
If you celebrate Christmas, you can pretty well immerse yourself in the festive frenzy that consumes North America from Halloween until New Year’s Eve.
Obsessing over the pile of wrapping paper you’re pretty sure is going to end up in a landfill or a turtle’s stomach somewhere in the Pacific? Who cares, it’s Christmas!
Distracted from that big ol’ golden turkey by recollections of articles you read about the war in Yemen or the protests in Hong Kong or the revolution in Iran or the uprising in Chile? Whatever, it’s the holidays!
Find yourself graduating from being slightly agitated to nearly hysterical over a political argument with your least favourite uncle while your mom uncomfortably serves fruit cake to her other, cooler siblings? ‘Tis the season to forget about all of that as quickly as possible!
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you’re forced to spend your break tolerating a nearly constant barrage of red and green decorations, marketing, and media. There is no reprieve from the festivities. Regardless of faith, family, or denomination, we must all bear witness to the ravenous, capitalism-driven monster that Christmas has become. Bah humbug, eh?
This doesn’t even account for all the regular holiday stressors: immediate family tension, money concerns, extensive travel, running into estranged friends, and for those without a place to go near the end of the month, isolation.
It becomes harder to shrug all of this off as we grow older and more aware. What used to be easily dismissable through the laissez-faire arrogance of adolescence becomes impossible to ignore with age. And so we ease into adulthood without complete awareness of why everything seems a little more rooted in reality and less enshrined in fantasy. All of that, albeit disappointing, is totally okay and natural.
What I’m saying is that, if you feel a little funny every holiday season, you’re not alone. Your feelings are valid. Your anxiety is understandable. Maybe the true ghost of Christmas past is what Christmas used to mean to us as children, or what pop culture tells us it’s supposed to mean throughout our lives. I don’t know. I’m an editor, not a philosopher. And I’m pretty grouchy, too.
What I do know is that with age comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes power, and with great power comes great responsibility and all that. Happy holidays, and stay sharp. Oh, and don’t forget to cop your Baby Yoda merch from Etsy!