Eric Renderking Fisk Goes Over The Top This Holiday Season With A Harsh Criticism of The Holiday Season And Tries To Narrow Down What The Season Should Mean.

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December 3rd, 2004
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Don’t Bother…

        Special Notice to my extended family, don’t get me anything for Christmas this year. Gifts for this time of the year doesn’t make up for the fact we haven’t seen each other for the other 364 days. No offense, there isn’t anything I want from you people that you could find in a store, on-line or in the back of your closet (otherwise known as “regifting”.) Zero means nothing, folks… not even so much of a Christmas Card. If you feel the need to actually get me or my family anything, just put a photograph of yourselves in an inexpensive frame for our wall, but I don’t want to see it or hear from you people until AFTER the holidays are over. I’m serious about this.

    Here’s the explanation for my sour holiday mood, I don’t want to be responsible for you folks going to the stores and stressing out for what to get my family and me for the holidays. I don’t want to be the reason why you’re stuck in traffic, fighting your way through the malls or through crowed isles looking for the perfect gift that will look great next to the other “perfect gifts” in my basement gathering dust while waiting for the lawn sale my wife always promises we’ll have. I don’t want you to waste your time, effort or gas for me or my family this year. No books, no gadgets, no DVD’s, no clothes or no gift certificates. I’m not kidding.

    The only thing I want from you people is for you to take the time you would have wasted by wondering what either I or the rest of my family might “want” for Christmas and do something better with what hours you have before December 24th.

    Now, getting back to the photograph I mentioned… take it while you’re doing one of these holiday activities. My gift to you folks is the opportunity to make a holiday memory you’re going to WANT to remember, a memory that has nothing to do with shopping, traffic, or the high debt.

    Christmas isn’t about buying things or shopping, Regardless of the mixed messages you get from the television. The mixed message is the show about a character who learns the REAL meaning of Christmas while the commercials tell you to ignore those messages and go for greed… your greed, your family’s greed, and make sure you buy something for the everyday people in your life. Spend, Spend, and Spend… Worry about the Debt later… Cause Visa is Everywhere and Everything you want under the Tree, Master Card you way into a second mortgage… that’s the picture they REALLY want you to see.

    For my sake, ignore it. But, again… it’s not about me.

Lights Out
    Here’s some rain on your holiday cheer from your favorite Grinch in a fedora, by the second week of the holiday season (Two weeks after Thanksgiving, with two more weeks to go before December 25th,) I’m sick of holiday decorations. The Faux-Santa, fiberglass Frosty, the plywood cutouts of Rain-deer… all of them. Two weeks before Christmas I can’t stand to see them anymore because I’m burned out. I’m good for only two weeks. Colored or white lights are a totally different story; they should be up all winter for the first few hours after dark to help take the edge off the depression that accompanies from the shorter daylight hours. But the holiday decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas, I’m through.

    Maybe I’m too much of a Scrooge, but I’m only good for these decorations for exactly 14 days. Granted, I love to take my own decorations out and set them up because each one brings back a holiday memory from years past, as if Jacob Marley’s associates are paying me an early visit with the spirits of Christmas Past. I love the smell of a fresh cut tree that fills this house, the anticipation (and the stress) of untangling all the lights and checking for burnt-out bulbs, the taste of Egg Nog flavored everything (from Coffee to breakfast cereal). But even in my own house it doesn’t that last long.

    The cause of this is the holiday hype, the not so subtle messages by the marketing ghouls to remind us to spend our way into high debt and an early grave paying it off. Earlier each year the decorations in the stores go up, the day before Thanksgiving in some areas, the day after Halloween in others, only to entice you into spending money you really don’t have so that people you don’t know can become more wealthy. News stories remind us that the retail stores depend on high holiday spending to help stimulate the economy, guilt that if we don’t buy enough tacky junk or become gluttons of this years pop-culture “must have” item, then we’re not patriotic enough. The message is pretty clear.

    These holiday decorations also have very little to do with the nature of the holiday. What’s the meaning of Christmas? Santa Claus, elves and Rain-deer? A magical talking snowman? Nope, the vast majority of the Christmas decorations have very little to do with “Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men...”, which might explain why I tire of it so quickly.

True Meaning

    Two weeks ago, just before we both settled on getting something for the house that we actually needed, my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Trying to be thoughtful, I asked her if I could think about it. Thoughts ran through my head, a new fedora, new leather jacket, a few Humphrey Bogart DVD’s I’ve wanted for a while.  Then I asked myself about what could I ask for that would make this holiday really special, something lasting which would help us to remember this year for a long time to come.

    I can remember the years before when there was something that I REALLY wanted, the wanting was so intense that I lost sight of those around me, the special events that I went to with my family, the special church services… it wasn’t until after Christmas when I started to think about others and those around me. Either I got what I wanted and it didn’t make me feel as “complete” as I thought it would, or I would be disappointed when the item didn’t show up under the tree. What did the “wanting” do for me?

    This year I wanted it to be different. I want for my boys and my wife, nothing for myself. Not because I’m trying to be a hero, but because I don’t want this holiday to be about me. Here’s a news flash for those of you reading this… Christmas isn’t about me, or you. It’s not even about The Church, but about the hope that The Church was built on.

    The true meaning of the holiday has nothing to do with the gifts you’re buying, the thing you have your heart set on that you hope someone close to you will get for you. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza… what ever you celebrate around the winter Solstice has a deeper meaning.

    During The Great Depression and World War II, they might have known better because of the circumstance. When we look at pictures depicting Christmas of that era or the Victorian era before it, we feel lonely and we wished we belonged there. They have it right in those pictures, even if overly idealized. Those pictures of the holidays have something in common; it’s the sense of wonder and togetherness.

    The True meaning of the holiday is a loss of self, a sense of family and belonging to something bigger and better then our selves. The holidays should be the time when we achieve our promise, and we desire the sense of hope to last all year.

    A man that I worked for in my Teen years said it best when he said he celebrated Christmas because it’s the one day of the year when the world is at Peace. He’s right… and if we can try it for one day, couldn’t we try it the other 364 days out of the year? Or at the very least, meet our friends, relatives and neighbors half way… instead of trying to make up for it with gifts we might not be able to afford once a year?


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