Venting Post for those who love Christmas, commercialism and all!


#1

I absolutely love Christmas!

It's Jesus' birthday, after all. I'm glad that the secular world makes such a huge fuss. Yes, I know that many people refuse to recognize that Jesus is God, but whether they acknowledge it or not, they are recognizing His birthday with their huge holiday celebration, and that's wonderful!

My favorite part of Christmas is all the shows, plays, musicals, cantatas, concerts, etc. I especially love being a part of such productions. Since I play piano, I am "in demand" at this time of year, and have made enough money to pay for my Christmas expenses--yay! But even if I'm just sitting in the audience, I love a good Christmas play, movie, concert, etc.

I also love re-reading various Christmas stories, especially The Christmas Carol by Dickens. I keep all my Christmas books in a basket and bring them out right after Thanksgiving.

I also enjoy all the family get-togethers. As I mentioned in another thread, my husband and I don't give gifts to extended family. Instead, we give time by purchasing three days at a local resort (a restored Victorian home) and inviting our siblings, their children, and our parents. It's so relaxing and fun. We host a huge dinner for everyone in the family whether they are spending the night at the resort or not, and we cook it ourselves, and my daughters help--so much fun for everyone.

And I LOVE the music! Christmas carols and songs never, ever get tiresome. I'll admit that "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and Santa Baby" are not my favorites. But I always try to recall the first time I ever heard these songs, and recapture that moment of hilarity in my imagination.

And I LOVE the decorations, especially the lights. Around here (Northern Illinois), it gets dark early and many of the days seem dark all day when there is snow in the air. The beautiful lights make everything so cheerful. Last night we drove by a house (my parents-in-law's neighbor) who routinely turns his home into a "Winter Wonderland." It was amazing--the entire house was covered with lights, and he had hundreds of lighted figures set out all over the lawn, including the best manger scene that I've ever seen! I loved it!

And I love the shopping. We don't buy a lot of expensive things, but we do buy for our daughters. The stores are so pretty and everyone is generally friendly. Last week we went to downtown Chicago, Michigan Ave, and bought an American Girls doll for our niece--everyone in the city was so friendly and welcoming. (It was the last pleasant winter day with mild temps and no snow--the very next day, the snow and bitter cold arrived, and we are now sitting in a deep freeze).

And of course, I love the ice skating! I don't skate, but my whole family does, and at this time of year, many local rinks do an ice show or carnival. Our show was last weekend, and my husband played Herr Drosselmeir in the skating club's "Theater On Ice" number. Many of the children did wonderful holiday numbers and it was so pretty. It's too late now for most of you to look for these ice shows, but next year, keep them in mind. They're usually really cheap to attend, and lots of fun for children (large families). My daughter's rink in the St. Louis area does one of the prettiest and best Nutcracker On Ice Productions in the U.S., and it's very cheap to buy tickets in advance.

But above all else, I love the Reason for the Season, Jesus!

If someone prefers to celebrate the Feast Day of Jesus' birth quietly, prayerfully, and in solititude, that is a fine option.

All of the above things that I mentioned are totally optional. No one forces anyone to whoop it up at Christmas time. We can say "no" to most of the Christmas activities and American customs. No one has to spend a lot of money on gifts--most of us in the U.S. have all that we need, and we are happy just to receive a phone call or nice note from our family and friends. No one is forced to turn on the TV or radio, and if you dislike Christmas music in the stores, wear headphones--lots of people do. If you choose, you can keep your house in darkness and clear of all decorations except a Creche, and then put up the lights on Christmas Day for the liturgical Christmas season (although I personally wouldn't want to put up any lights right now in this bitter weather).

And you don't have to go near an ice rink.

Just celebrate Jesus' birthday in your own way, and let others celebrate in their way. The main thing is that we celebrate it. Think about it--every time we say the creed, we celebrate Christmas when we bow during the phrase, "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man." If that's all you choose to do, that is everything and it's good.


#2

What a lovely, cheerful post, Cat. Thank you for the reminder of all the fun we can have during this holy season if we just roll with it! And still praise God for the gift of Jesus!

:thumbsup:


#3

Amen! And whoa, what a great idea---time at a resort!

Hey, even if we can't afford that---we can probably afford 'time' at a really nice restaurant for everyone.


#4

I'm not too keen on the commercialism part-it's kind of ridiculous to put up Christmas decorations right after Halloween, IMHO-but I love the music and seeing the lights on peoples' houses when it's dark, gloomy and snowy outside (like right now in the Northeast).

Already this Advent I've gone to two 'Lessons and Carols' services at two Protestant churches (one at a local college) and a concert by a chorus of 'period' singers. The latter do 'serious' works the first half of the program dressed in tuxes (men) and black blouses and skirts (women). But for the second half, the director and the singers come out dressed in medieval or Renaissance costumes to sing carols and 'period secular' music! They are accompanied by recorders-a precursor of the flute-and a viola de gamba. Their big finale is the traditional English Christmas song 'The Gloucestershire Wassail' [spelling?]. What a blast! I loved it!

Also, the local classical music station does a 'gentle approach' with Christmas music. They do it little by little (unlike other stations that start at the beginning of November-sheesh), until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when their programming is 'all Christmas, all the time'. And they don't play stupid stuff like 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' or 'Santa Baby'! Their music is high-quality choral and instrumental works, such as Handel's 'Messiah' and even 'The Nutcracker' by Tchaikovsky.


#5

Thank you for such a cheerful post! :)
I'm with you! :thumbsup:


#6

Cat, I agree.

The only thing I don't like is hearing commercials that use Christmas music, especially religious music. Like Handel's Messiah. (Alleluia! Alleluia! etc.)

That cheapens the music.

But the lights, the family dinners, the snow, all of that... :thumbsup:


#7

Cat... I'm with you.

The second the Turkey is digested I have things that come out of storage. Various Christmas Stories. My Favorite is the Biography of Santa... It's such a fun read!

Whatever is DH first day off after Thanksgiving, we head to a tree farm and get ours. This year he did the lights, and my kids put on ALL the decorations, while I unwrapped them. The tree looks PERFECTLY terrible! I love it!

They woke on the morning of the feast of St. Nick, to a decorated mantel with sox, and a goodie.

They helped me set up the Nativity Sans Baby Jesus, and the 3 wisemen, and they have so much fun lighting the candles with mommies assist for the advent wreath.

This year they get to pick out a gift for their teacher, and they are quite sure she would like a zhu zhu pet.

The leaves are falling off the tree.

We saw the Elf and the Shoemaker... when they are older... The Nutcracker.

Since DH works on Christmas Eve, and Christmas, I won't leave home. So the whole family comes to us. We get them discounts in the hotel he works at... and we eat way too much.

I LOVE the music... I highly recommend Pandora.com for the music of your choice.

I love the lights, the tree lighting events, the singing pagents.

OH, the CCD kids from our Church will be putting on a play for the Nativity... as well as the Catholic school kids. We'll go see that!!!! Hopefully, I can talk my kids in participating next year.

I love it all... all but the scrooges... LOL!


#8

Cat, Have you been here (click on "Xmas lights")? It's in Elburn countywidelandscaping.com/main.html


#9

Yes, this is a wonderful and cheeerful post Cat! Thank you! You must have a perfect life with no problems to speak of ........:rolleyes:

When my family and marriage were intact, I loved Christmas too! Kids were doing well in school, husband had a good job, I was happy, all my family were doing well, we used to entertain a lot, then sadly, problems came and cropped up out of nowhere. It really affected my view of Christmas, which then became a more stressful season to add on top of my already so stressful life. One can only handle SO much!

I find the people who really get into the Holiday season are the ones with no problems, with a seemingly perfect life. My friends who just adore Christmas have utterly NO problems whatsoever. All of them.

I think the human brain cuts off when the stress limit is over the meter. We can only handle so much, anything else drives one nuts.

This is what I have found. You only have energy for so much in life. When one aspect of life zaps your emotional energy, you don't have much left in other areas, like really getting that excited about all the Christmas fuss.

I am glad for you Cat, that Christmas is such a fun time of year for you! These are the best times of your life, so enjoy them fully!

For those of us who it is nothing more than an awful additional stress pretty much, pray for us.

I still do enjoy the music, but I would much more IF I had the emotional energy to tackle it. Just going to a concert......fighting the parking, the late nights, etc.is too stressful for me now, although I did go to a wonderful amazing concert 2 weeks ago, and loved it. I always used to attend the Messaih singalong.........that was then....this is now.....

For me now, I love to light candles, read my Magnificat, and pray and thank the Lord for his birth. This is plenty for me now in my life....


#10

[quote="Corinne3, post:9, topic:222653"]

I find the people who really get into the Holiday season are the ones with no problems, with a seemingly perfect life. My friends who just adore Christmas have utterly NO problems whatsoever. All of them.

[/quote]

Corinne, I know you've been going through quite a lot. However, I would disagree with this statement. My husband gets really into the holiday season and has even before I met him (based on what his family has told me) and they were so poor they never had gifts on Christmas. He loved it even when they lived in rat and cockroach infested apartments. I have recently met a woman who has lost a son and her husband in the past year, lost a daughter about 10 years ago and her only living child is in prison. She is so gracious and joyful about the season. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude and how one handles stress. I'm not trying to minimize your perspective, just wanted to say that there are people who have major problems who are still joyful about Christmas and the holiday season.


#11

[quote="Corinne3, post:9, topic:222653"]

I find the people who really get into the Holiday season are the ones with no problems, with a seemingly perfect life. My friends who just adore Christmas have utterly NO problems whatsoever. All of them.

[/quote]

I'm sorry you're suffering... but I see it entirely differently.
Christmas is an excuse to ignore all the imperfections in our lives and celebrate Christ's birth!

I have a LOT to complain about... probably not as much as others, though... but enough that I feel overwhelmed and stressed on a regular basis as well.

I think you'd be surprised about the sufferings that others endure in silence... :o


#12

[quote="Corinne3, post:9, topic:222653"]
Yes, this is a wonderful and cheeerful post Cat! Thank you! You must have a perfect life with no problems to speak of ........:rolleyes:

When my family and marriage were intact, I loved Christmas too! Kids were doing well in school, husband had a good job, I was happy, all my family were doing well, we used to entertain a lot, then sadly, problems came and cropped up out of nowhere. It really affected my view of Christmas, which then became a more stressful season to add on top of my already so stressful life. One can only handle SO much!

I find the people who really get into the Holiday season are the ones with no problems, with a seemingly perfect life. My friends who just adore Christmas have utterly NO problems whatsoever. All of them.

....

[/quote]

I'm sorry you feel that way.

But I DON'T have a perfect life by any means. And I love Christmas.

I agree with the OP! There was a homily today on being joyful no matter what, and when I switched channels, a TV pastor spoke of the same thing.

I probably needed to hear it.

Most of my relatives are deceased. Many others live too far away to see us. I live with chronic and so far undiagnosed pain. Most of the time I have to drag myself to Mass, let alone anywhere else. And I love Christmas.

We had a parking lot accident last week (other guy's fault, no one hurt, thank God), and drove a loaner while our car was in the shop. The loaner came with XM radio and one of the stations had all sorts of classical (operatic and such) Christmas songs. Driving around at night, looking at the lights, listening to the songs, was SO cool.


#13

[quote="gmarie21, post:10, topic:222653"]
Corinne, I know you've been going through quite a lot. However, I would disagree with this statement. My husband gets really into the holiday season and has even before I met him (based on what his family has told me) and they were so poor they never had gifts on Christmas. He loved it even when they lived in rat and cockroach infested apartments. I have recently met a woman who has lost a son and her husband in the past year, lost a daughter about 10 years ago and her only living child is in prison. She is so gracious and joyful about the season. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude and how one handles stress. I'm not trying to minimize your perspective, just wanted to say that there are people who have major problems who are still joyful about Christmas and the holiday season.

[/quote]

We all process stress in different ways I guess.


#14

[quote="gmarie21, post:8, topic:222653"]
Cat, Have you been here (click on "Xmas lights")? It's in Elburn countywidelandscaping.com/main.html

[/quote]

Wow, to have your whole house lit and sensitized to music like that! Impressive! Bet they win the neighborhood light contest!

:thumbsup::D


#15

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:14, topic:222653"]
Wow, to have your whole house lit and sensitized to music like that! Impressive! Bet they win the neighborhood light contest!

:thumbsup::D

[/quote]

They aren't even in a neighborhood, they are rural, but we go every year, sit in our car, eat some food, and enjoy the show.:thumbsup:


#16

[quote="Corinne3, post:9, topic:222653"]
Yes, this is a wonderful and cheeerful post Cat! Thank you! You must have a perfect life with no problems to speak of ........:rolleyes:

When my family and marriage were intact, I loved Christmas too! Kids were doing well in school, husband had a good job, I was happy, all my family were doing well, we used to entertain a lot, then sadly, problems came and cropped up out of nowhere. It really affected my view of Christmas, which then became a more stressful season to add on top of my already so stressful life. One can only handle SO much!

I find the people who really get into the Holiday season are the ones with no problems, with a seemingly perfect life. My friends who just adore Christmas have utterly NO problems whatsoever. All of them.

I think the human brain cuts off when the stress limit is over the meter. We can only handle so much, anything else drives one nuts.

This is what I have found. You only have energy for so much in life. When one aspect of life zaps your emotional energy, you don't have much left in other areas, like really getting that excited about all the Christmas fuss.

I am glad for you Cat, that Christmas is such a fun time of year for you! These are the best times of your life, so enjoy them fully!

For those of us who it is nothing more than an awful additional stress pretty much, pray for us.

I still do enjoy the music, but I would much more IF I had the emotional energy to tackle it. Just going to a concert......fighting the parking, the late nights, etc.is too stressful for me now, although I did go to a wonderful amazing concert 2 weeks ago, and loved it. I always used to attend the Messaih singalong.........that was then....this is now.....

For me now, I love to light candles, read my Magnificat, and pray and thank the Lord for his birth. This is plenty for me now in my life....

[/quote]

I'm so sorry for the troubles in your life. But, I've yet to meet anyone who didn't have something that worried them.

Though my home is decorated, the classical Christmas music is playing, and I have ladies coming over tonight for a Christmas Cookie Exchange, I am very worried about my 90 year old Dad with recurrent pneumonia, still concerned about the health of my younger daughter's unborn child, sad that my older daughter is struggling with infertility, and concerned - as are most folks - about finances.

I find that throwing myself into the familiar, comforting Christmas festivities helps ease the worry some. Though, were we facing life-threatening illness, etc., I couldn't imagine going through the motions.

I pray that you receive the peace of Christ, and some happiness, during this holy season.


#17

Keep the positive posts coming. There is another thread in this section of CAF for those who wish to vent about the negatives of Christmas and their hard times with the holiday.

Just a quick comment about the lights and decorations going up right after Halloween.

For those of us who live in colder climates, this is done for practical reasons.

We had a "window of opportunity" in the few weeks right after Halloween where the weather was still mild and fairly warm. It's called "Indian summer" up here in Northern Illinois, and we had a beautiful Indian summer this year. A week before Thanksgiving, we had several days of 50 degree weather. I remember opening my kitchen windows while I was cleaning, and the cats taking one last opportunity to sit in the window sills and breath the outdoor air.

And THAT'S when my husband got outside on the ladder and put up our Christmas decorations.

And it's a good thing. The LAST good day we had was the day after our Messiah concerts--the Lord was kind enough to allow us to have clear skies and moderate temperatures (in the 20s) for our concerts, which allowed many elderly people to come to enjoy Handel's Messiah.

The week following the concerts, we got the snow and the bitter temperatures. For the last few days, it has been very cold up here, with temps in the single digits, high winds, and windchills below zero. There is no way that even the hardiest Nordic type would be able to be outside putting up lights. In fact, most of the bushes are covered with icy snow, and the lawns are skating rinks covered with a glaze of ice.

So early decorating has nothing to do with secularism and commercialism and greed. It's just a wise idea when you live in cold climes.

I think the climate of Northern states is also the reason why stores and malls urge people to shop early, right after Halloween. For those of you in the Southern climates, this may seem like commercialism. For those of us in the Great White Icy North, it's just good sense. I tried to do shopping in November while it was still sweater weather, and I'm glad I did. Right now it's just plain dangerous driving around on snowpacked and ice-packed roads and picking my way across icy parking lots. Also, going to the malls at this time of year is a great way to pick up a nasty cold or even the flu and suffer through the holiday season. It's smart to get the shopping out of the way early.

Anyway, we think we're going to go get our tree today. It's pretty cold out, but snow is predicted for tomorrow, and I'd rather tramp through single digit temps at a tree lot than tramp through snow and single digit temps at a tree lot!


#18

Another note about a resort.

We pay it off throughout the summer months, a little bit at a time. That way, the expense is not so overwhelming.

But even if you can't afford that expense, there are other options. For those of you who live in warmer climates, rent out a shelter at a local park and have a huge picnic/family day. Or perhaps you can rent a church fellowship hall. Some churches have televisions and you could watch a family movie or football game. Many churches have very comfortable fellowship halls with regular furniture, not just medal folding chairs, and huge kitchens to cook up a giganto family feast!

Or just do a family game day or dance at your house. Invite everyone in the family and make it very clear that there will be NO presents, just time together. Perhaps you could hire some local teenagers to provide entertainment (music, recitations from Christmas plays and poetry, etc.) Plan several games that the whole family can participate in. Let the teenagers take the little ones down to the basement for Christmas movies or play, while the adults sit and talk.

Or if you have the physical abilities, take the whole family sledding at the local hill. Or like I said, a family dance or even a family workout to Christmas music--great fun for kids!

Or skating--I highly recommend a family ice skating day at your local rink. Most rinks have meeting rooms or even party rooms that they will rent out to you for cheap, so you can have a big family meal or pizza or just sweets after the skating. This is fun even for those who don't or can't skate--they can enjoy watching all the kids whirl around the ice. One suggestion is to buy out an hour or two of private family ice so that you don't have to put up with hockey skaters whizzing by, or figure skaters jumping right in your face. BUT...inquire about hiring a few local figure skaters to entertain your family with some pretty exhibition skating, and then these skaters can help your family members who don't know how to skate. Just having them around to answer questions and help tie ice skates is a good plan. If they are amateurs, they can't accept money, but they would probably be able to accept coupons (sold by the rink) for ice time, and they would be grateful to receive these.

You see, it's easy to plan a gift of time. Easy, and yet difficult. But think about it. Your family will remember the times together a lot longer than they will remember another Chia pet or pair of socks.

Wouldn't it be fun to have a family Chia Pet party? Everyone gets a chia pet right after Thanksgiving, and then they start 'em up, and at some point, all the family and their Chia pets get together for a celebration. Prizes could be given for the Best Looking Chia pet. What fun!

Always remember, whatever you do, it's just an excuse for being together and spending time with those you love most on this earth, and remembering the Holy Family.


#19

[quote="Cat, post:17, topic:222653"]

There is no way that even the hardiest Nordic type would be able to be outside putting up lights. In fact, most of the bushes are covered with icy snow, and the lawns are skating rinks covered with a glaze of ice.

[/quote]

My hubby is the Mexican Nordic type. He started putting up the lights last Saturday (if you remember how terrible that day of weather was and has been adjusting and adding to our outdoor display a few days this week (even in the whipping winds, and we are in the country part of DeKalb county with no trees to block the wind). He loves it! Me, well, I'm dreaming of a tropical Christmas (I wish my dream would become a reality one of these years)


#20

Cat-I understand you with regards to putting up Christmas decorations around Halloween. I live in the Northeast, and we got our first blast of winter very soon after you did where you live! :eek:

I don't put up any lights at home, since I'm by myself. I have a small icon of the Adoration of the Shepherds which I put on the entertainment center in my living room. That's the extent of my decorating.


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