Holidays. When I think of them, my mind swirls back to those hazy nights when I would carefully descend the stairs to the living room and stare up at the little fabric Santa poking out of the fabric chimney that was nestled atop the lit Christmas tree. I fondly recall the days when my mom would take time off of work to sit and laugh with my brother and me while we frosted together pieces of gingerbread for gingerbread houses. I remember the school Winter rehearsals when my classmates and I would have to don itchy sweaters and scarfs to perform for our relatives inside of a cramped auditorium. I reminisce about the times when my family would drive down to Gilroy to sit in line for hours with all these other cars queueing up to drive through tunnels of festive lights. I have a good deal of Christmas memories for someone who is not even religious.
I am mostly thrilled when I think of the holidays. I start imagining what gifts I will receive, places I will visit, and schooltime that will go dismissed. Until recently, the dreaded pressure of deciding what to get for my friends and family was nonexistent. This year-round burden of figuring out the perfect gift for people is so common that it has become known as “holiday stress.” Believe it or not, the initial purpose of the holidays was not to cause stress; it was the opposite. When the concept of holidays started building traction, the thought was that they would be breaks in life’s routine when one could take time for religious practices and be with loved ones. In modern times, holidays present huge money-making opportunities for the advertising industry.
Take Halloween, for example. Originally believed to be an ancient Celtic harvest festival or Christian holiday, Halloween is now a widely commercialized celebration in households of varying beliefs. Children dressed up in random costuming are encouraged to take to the streets at night and flitter from stranger’s door to stranger’s door in search of tricks or treats. Nowadays, Halloween is a rare day when the parent gives full consent to the consumption of as many sugary treats as their kid desires. Advertising companies take advantage of these annual holidays by marketing tons of candy, costumes, decorations, gift-items, lights, glitter (there is always so much glitter), etc. Many people do not know that Halloween is anything but a day for these kinds of festivities.
But let us not dwell on this sneaky global scandal! My personal opinion is that the positives far outweigh the negatives. I mean, did you see the happy memories derived from just on holiday? Holidays are opportunities to reflect. They are moments scattered among our busy years when we can commemorate the ideas, people, and events that have shaped our world. They are days that remind us to stop and notice things that otherwise would have slipped our occupied minds. And they are days that can create memories. This paragraph is cheesy, but so are holidays.