Monday, December 6, 2010

I feel like Charlie Brown!

In the classic cartoon "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that airs on TV every holiday season, we find the main character Charlie Brown fighting his way through the over-commercialization of Christmas to find the real root of the holiday season.  Thankfully he does, and the story ends on a pleasant note that expresses the true meaning of the holidays...

I feel a little bit like Charlie Brown these days.

This is the first year that the commercialization of Christmas has completely pounded me over the head until I can't take it anymore.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, twenty-five emails a day with announcements of new sales, exchanging Christmas shopping hint lists, Christmas decorations in the stores in the first week of September!  Argggggh!  I've had enough!!!  I want a simpler, less complicated, less shopping-oriented Christmas.

The kids having fun with a glowing string of lights...
This is the reason why my wife and I are going to continue to intentionally try to turn the holidays back in time at our house this year and in the future.  We like to get back to what the spirit of Christmas is truly, memories, and the simple joys of the season.

We've always had a few nice Christmas traditions that we carry on in our house.  Some of them include things like:
  1. Decorating the house a few items per day for the first week of December to surprise the kids with a new treat every day when they come home from school.  They run around the house looking for what's new.  :-)
  2. Putting out photos from our past Christmas holidays to enjoy the memories and swap funny stories. 
  3. Visiting New York City to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the decorated store windows, and a dinner at Ted's Montana Grill.  
  4. Hiking into the woods to put some Christmas decorations on "our" same pine tree every year to see if they survive the winter (we then go back in the spring to take them off).  
  5. Making some of our own Christmas decorations.
  6. Baking Christmas cookies.
  7. Turning out all the lights to watch The Grinch, Rudolph, and The Polar Express (which, if you haven't seen it, is a fantastic Christmas movie that should be in everyone's collection).
I hope you have (and keep!) your Christmas traditions too.  Every family has them, but sometimes they get pushed aside in the hustle and bustle of the shopping season and this is what I'm trying to reverse.  I don't want the holidays to rush by in a fury of sales and then be over before I have a chance to enjoy them. 

So, in the spirit of getting back to more easy-going holidays, here are some thoughts for the future that I plan to do:
  1. Find a traditional Christmas event in a town near my house and go to it (tree lighting ceremony in the town square, etc).  They're out there, but sometimes they're not easy to find around where I live.  I like what many other countries in other parts of the world do in this regard.   In Germany (for example), many of the towns of significant size that have a Marktplatz (town square) have a traditional Christmas market to ring in the season with crafts, foods, wines, hot drinks, singing, a giant town tree, etc.  This link to some photos of the German Christmas Markets shows exactly what I'm talking about.
  2. I will not exchange Christmas lists with anyone.  If I know them well enough (and vise versa), I should be able to buy them a gift without being told what it is, where to get it, and how much to pay.
  3. I will log into every online store where I shop and change my account to use an alternate email address.  This way my primary email account won't get pounded with emails at the holidays, which forces me to sort through all of this shopping junk to find the real emails that I want to read.  I can then go check my "Christmas email account" when I want to, not when the stores want me to.  This will go a long way in improving my psyche because I can just "turn off" the constant sales stuff.
  4. I will not shop in any store that puts out Christmas decorations in September!!!
  5. I will share these thoughts with anyone who will listen to me in the hope that the spirit catches on!
I hope that everyone reading this post enjoys their holiday season and finds some peace in these fast paced times...Enjoy your family, enjoy your memories, and skip that sale at the store so you can sit by the fire and relax a little bit longer.  Happy holidays!


  1. hallelujah john! i'm with you all the way!

  2. Yours is a funny post but true. I HATE that Christmas in the stores begins right after Labor Day. It's insanity. Here's to finding the peace of the season! :)

  3. this is pretty funny. i like your blog. i hope santa is nice to you!

  4. I agree 100%! More and more, in fact, I am becoming more connected to the shift in seasons (winter solstice) and becoming less tuned in to all this christmas jazz. Making the memories with our families and staying in touch with our core values is the most important thing I feel, and that is something a dollar value cannot be placed upon. Enjoy your holidays and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject with everyone.