I love Thanksgiving. It’s by far my favorite holiday. It sits snugly between seasons, just a day on the calendar, and there’s little thematic/emotional prep for it other than the changing leaves and a smattering of autumn-colored decorations. It’s fun, and warm, and wholesome, but mostly it’s unobtrusive. You’ll never hear an October 30th complaint that someone has his or her Thanksgiving decorations up yet.
And then there’s Christmas.
Christmas, which isn’t a day, but a season. Christmas, which isn’t satisfied with its own month, but has to creep into the one before it. Christmas, which used to start the day after Thanksgiving, but not starts ON Thanksgiving, with stores opening that afternoon for preemptive Black Friday deals. So instead of sitting at home with family digesting or eating dessert or playing games or watching football, we should be out there taking advantage of ridiculous sales? Don’t even get me started…
But I’m not here to bemoan the awfulness of Christian Capitalism. No, I want to talk about December. This is probably my least favorite month. Christmas hangs like a ghoulish Dickensian specter over everything that happens in December. Better finish that project before Christmas. Better not start that project until after Christmas. Better work a few extra shifts so you have money for gifts this Christmas. December is the least productive time of the year.
As a writer, I know not to expect any exciting phone calls from my agent between Thanksgiving and New Years. More importantly, though, I know not to expect any thrilling periods of intense productivity during this month. There’s just too much to do. The only free time I have is when I’m crammed into a window seat for 6 hours between LAX and EWR, and let me tell you, pressurized cabins and flatulent fellow passengers don’t inspire much creativity.
This may seem like whining—mostly because it is whining—but I usually can’t wait for January. Its clean slate of commitment-free time beckons me from across the New Year divide. I get super excited for how much writing I know I’ll be able to get done in January, for a return to normalcy and uninterrupted schedules. It’s a time of no unexpected bumps, a blissful relief after a month made up solely of exceptions.
I’m being very Grinchy. While I am against most of the build-up trappings, I don’t have any real problem with Christmas. Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. My family all meet up at my grandmother’s house to eat and exchange gifts and down 400+ Jell-O shots (no, seriously). Santa shows up, and my uncle takes all of the little kids out caroling in the snow. We have a lot of kids in our family, so it’s a very quiet, peaceful time in the middle of an overly loud party/month. It’s great, but it would be just as great without weeks and weeks of hype and confusion and pressure and ridiculousness. Honestly, December, just take a chill pill, please.