Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slacking bloggers and the Commercialization of Christmas (A Thoughtful Post, Not A Complaining One)

First off, let me ask, what is it with these slacking bloggers? Seems like most of my favorite blogs have a Happy Eid and Merry Christmas (oh, and Happy Eid and Merry Christmas) post and then a see you next year. What?! No daily recaps of your holiday season? No posts about how much you ate and what stuff you got? Where's your Christmas spirit? Where's your Eid enlightenment? We want news and posts! Otherwise, during these days off from work, where will we turn to be entertained? I'm ashamed of my fellow bloggers. See you next year indeed!

But, seriously, a post of Nas' blog got me thinking about holidays in the US and here. While there is alot of build up to Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha, there's nothing like the over-the-top widespread mania of Christmas in the US. As I thought about that, I thought about the charges of the overcommercialization of Christmas (valid) and the earlier and earlier start date of the "Christmas season" in the US (now starts before Halloween). And, I wondered, why the focus on Christmas? As you may know, pretty much everyone in the US celebrates Christmas, Christian or not. As a child, my family did Christmas in a HUGE way. When I was very small, we would all migrate south to Florida for Christmas at my great grandparents house. And, when I say all, I mean: The three of us, My uncle's family (6), cousin 1 and his family (3), cousin 2 and his family (4), my great aunt and uncle (2), and my grandmother. So, as you can see, there were 20 or so of us (at a minimum as sometimes the other two cousins and their kids would come). And of that 20, there were 10 kids. Given that we were coming from many different states and far flung, this was a pretty big deal. It was the one time of the year when I was part of a big family.

And this brings me to my revelation. One of the reasons we Americans go overboard for Christmas is that it is one of the rare times we're together as Family (ahli) rather than family (ayli). In Jordan, this is almost always the case. Dropping by Teta and Jiddo is the norm. Seeing ibn Khali and bint Ammi is an everyday occurrence. In fact, teta and jiddo spoiling the kids is also a weekly thing. But, in the US, my family wasn't unusual. Growing up, we lived in AL and grandma lived first in Maryland, then in Minnesota. The great grandparents lived in Florida. My uncle lived in WV, then PA, then OH, then finally in AL. So, this was OUR time. And, it's gotten worse, not better. So, I think one reason we go so overboard is that instead of all of the wonderful family time and visiting and spoiling that happens during the year here, it's a once a year opportunity. Retailers respond to this need for Americans to reconnect with their families by offering more and more stuff. In part, the stuff is trying to replace the intimate family contact. We're trying to find the perfect "something" to show the others how much we care, when in fact just plain caring would be a better way to do it... That's all of my thoughts on the topic at this moment. I've got to go get ready to decorate some cookies!

Happy Christmas Thoughts!


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