Why I Hate The Holiday Season

My producer has instructed me not to write a 10,000 word rant about why I hate the holiday season.

He also told me it would be bad form to write about sleeping with a nun, beating up a priest, pulling a rabbi’s beard or kicking the local pastor in the butt.

Fortunately I am a patient and tolerant man who believes in spreading peace, joy and goodwill towards all men so I didn’t do any of those things.

Why I Hate The Holiday Season

Hate is probably too strong a word so let’s adjust that to read why I really dislike the holiday season. That isn’t an exaggeration, I really don’t like this time of year for a host of reasons.

They range from the irritation I feel when I read about stampedes on Black Friday and fist fights in the aisle to the over-the-top advertising that comes with the push to buy, buy, buy.

I hate not being able to go to the grocery store or mall without being assaulted by music played way too loud and a dozen different people standing in the parking lot asking me to help their particular charity because it is important to give during the holiday season.

People Need Help All Year Long

Maybe it is my own issue, but people need help all year long. They aren’t any less hungry or homeless in January, March or August than they are in December. It drives me crazy to listen to people tell me that if I don’t give now “they’ll have a terrible holiday season.”

Yes, I know it is a special time of year and because of this some people think others are more likely to give, but that is all tied into messaging. We can adapt and adjust. I am willing to bet it might be more helpful for some people to spread out their donations over several months as opposed to one time.

What Message Are We Sending Our Children?

When my eight-year-old tells me kids in school are fighting about eight days of Chanukah versus twelve days of Christmas I have to shake my head. In part it is because I remember those conversations from being a kid, but I don’t believe that things were as crazy then as they are now.

Now I’ll allow for the possibility that this is a case of “misty colored memories” but I know for certain that in 1977 there wasn’t a Cyber Monday. We didn’t haveĀ  24 hour news cycle pumping out enormous amounts of information either.

Was it better or worse then? Well, based solely upon my memories I will say it was better.

More importantly as a father I am not pleased with the push I feel from the ads to buy more stuff solely because of time of year. My kids receive more gifts than I ever did and I am happy that people spoil them, but I work hard to make sure they understand their value doesn’t come from what they own or do not own.

Moments Matter

Still, it would be unfair of me to say I dislike everything and that I don’t appreciate any part of this time of year. There are lots of special moments that come from the gathering of friends and family and there is something to be said for the foods that come out around this time.

I just wish we could dial things back a notch and change the message about doing more to help because of time of year.

What about you? What do you think?

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25 Comments

  1. Really November 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Not having a love life and No family would do it.

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  4. Bell December 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I think that commerce has totally hijacked the holiday season and run away with it. You do good to teach your kids that a person’s value is not measured in trinkets.

    • Josh December 6, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Hi John,

      It has been hijacked but even if it hadn’t I would push my kids to see their worth in who they are and not what they have. It is the only way to really find happiness.

  5. Adrienne December 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Would it be horrible for me to say I’m glad I don’t have kids Josh! I mean I don’t have any kids to explain this crazy world to but if I did they’d be grown by now anyway.

    I don’t mind this time of the year but it’s way over commercialized that’s for sure. I live in a very busy part of town and it’s even crazier this time of the year. They shut down lanes of traffic coming from the stores to make it easier for people to get in and out not even thinking about us poor souls who just want to go about our business.

    I’ve never been a big shopper and never will. I do believe that we should be giving all year long and not use this time of the year as an excuse or be hounded for donations.

    It’s sad that people think the way you do about Christmas time. I have a feeling it’s not going to get any better either.

    • Josh December 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      I don’t think it is horrible at all. I would never give up being a father nor would I suggest that being a parent is for everyone. It is as exactly as people say-ridiculously hard and twice as rewarding.

      I don’t believe that it has to be like this but as long as people are focused on what they have and not otherwise, well it will be tough at times.

      Hope you are having a good week.

  6. Akos Fintor December 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Hey Joshua,

    I totally feel “your pain.”
    Weeks back, I actually responded to a similar post titled “What are you thankful on Thanksgiving?” where I pointed out that we don’t need a special day to be thankful.
    All this Holiday season crap has become a big business; consume more!
    That’s why my wife and I pack and go up to the cost a reside in the little town of Gualala in Ca where we spend the Holidays by doing……………..absolutely nothing.

    thanks for the share!
    Akos

    • Josh December 6, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Hi Akos,

      I love the idea of spending time during the holidays doing nothing. We spend so much time racing and running around that it seems ideal to me to have a time when we just relax.

  7. Tim Bonner December 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Hey Josh

    I actually really like the holiday season but more for the excitement it brings the kids. The wonderment in my daughter’s eyes when she saw the lights on our Christmas tree. She didn’t really understand Christmas last year so I think this year’s going to be pretty special for her.

    I completely agree it’s become over-commercialised though. My kids get so many more toys and other stuff during the year than I ever did and the Christmas push just makes them want even more. We were in Toys ‘R’ Us this afternoon and my daughter had a tantrum because she didn’t want to leave!

    • Josh December 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Hi Tim,

      We are definitely on the same page when it comes to the pleasure of watching our children. It really is wonderful to see their smiles and to enjoy their excitement.

      I didn’t know you have Toys ‘R’ Us in the U.K., but I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised.

  8. Hajra December 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

    One thing of having lived in a community where we get to meet people from all religions and many countries is that we learn to be tolerant. But I wonder whether the kids get to see it that way. I have seen kids fighting because one of them has an iPad and other has a tab from another ‘poor’ tablet company. Also, so many kids now has a smartphone, a tablet or something fancy that it becomes difficult to decide what to gift them, hey don’t appreciate he smaller things. This isn’t a rant against anyone but at Eid this year I gifted a set of books to a cousins ten year old and he told me that I should have downloaded books for him on his tablet.

    Now I have the New Years coming up, and it is gifting time again and the kids want their gifts!

    • Josh December 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Hi Hajra,

      It is a good question. I sometimes wonder about tolerance. As a kid I was always very aware that I was part of the minority. It wasn’t because of anything my parents said, but because everywhere I looked/went there was a ton of Christmas stuff and almost no mention of Chanukah.

      There were some times as a kid where that was hard.

      But overall I don’t remember feeling jealous because of holidays or religion. What I remember is feeling a bit jealous because I thought someone got better gifts. I suspect that is probably still something of an issue for some.

  9. Mary Stephenson December 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Josh

    Okay I thought this was not going to be pretty, so I had my lunch first! But just had to see what you were thinking.

    I totally agree on the crazy people that endanger their lives to fight, not to mention the cold and long lines outside, for that deal that someone else might get instead of them on Black Friday. Boy has the advertisers got them all to be like a bunch of crazed sheep!

    They have the stupidity to say that it is fun? Don’t get it? Of course the pick pocket jerks are out there in full force to trying to make a great deal, LOL.

    The old days when someone worked retail they could be sure to have holidays off, not today. When my daughter was younger, probably about 35 years ago she was invited to a spur of the moment birthday party on January 1st. The only place that was open was a 7Eleven. Some how we managed to find an appropriate gift for a 9 year old.

    Like parts of the holidays, but yes it is far too pushy from making one feel guilty for not buying or giving. My feelings about giving now is that I will decide where the need is and give to that person or animal shelter. Besides I have heard of these people that stand outside the malls or stores proclaiming to be a good charity and these folks are actually pocketing the money themselves. Lots of low lives around and the holiday season seems to bring out the best and worst in people. Yep, sure glad I had my lunch first!.

    You said what a lot of us feel. Hope you enjoy the holidays!….?
    Mary

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Mary,

      There have been times where I was willing to stand in line for something, but that was because it was a fun sort of event. For example going at midnight to pick up the latest Harry Potter novel was just fun. People had a good time and were kidding around.

      But the idea of spending days in line to get a television, toy or some of the other Black Friday items just throws me. I really don’t understand why people get so crazy about some of it, they are like Sneetches.

      And as you mention it is a lousy time to work in retail. I feel badly for people who left their Thanksgiving dinners to go work. Craziness.

  10. Brian Meeks December 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

    There is only ONE thing I like about the holiday season. Blog posts where people say they are filled with a level of angst similar to mine. Well done.

  11. Kaarina Dillabough December 4, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I LOVE the holiday season. But maybe that’s because I don’t, and never have, bought into the commercialism of it all. Gifts have been bought or made long before the rush (usually throughout the year as I find that special something for the special someone, that I tuck away). I slow down. I savour the season. I decorate in a “rustic” way…homemade, homespun mainly. I delight in decorating. I delight in the smells and sounds, and I make extra effort to show, in my words and actions, that this is a time to refresh and rejuvenate, and celebrate the spirit, friendship, family and of course, fireplace. I LOVE the season. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Kaarina,

      That is the sort of thing I can get behind and understand. It makes sense to me. Chanukah is a minor holiday that has been hyped up a bit because of its proximity to Christmas. I make a point to remind the kids of that.

      We don’t have to be like everyone else and it is ok.

      It sounds to me like you must be well organized to buy gifts throughout the year and then to remember where you hid them.

  12. Jayme Soulati December 4, 2012 at 5:48 am

    I have to agree, Josh; it’s a trying time and it adds so much more pressure on the parents to make it a good time for the kids. The money being spent on gifts for kids who have no boundary asking for $$ gifts and having to decorate and feel all festive; that’s the pressure I don’t like b/c each year for me it becomes more challenging to run my business well and be a good mom.

    Not to mention families can really suck.

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Jayme,

      My children went to a fantastic private school where they received a wonderful education. What wasn’t as wonderful was trying to explain Mr. Johnson earns 293 times as much as I do and can afford to buy ridiculously expensive gifts for his kid.

      Most of the time it wasn’t too bad, but there were those moments where you wanted to scream and or felt badly because of what you couldn’t do.

      But I think there are valuable lessons here for the kids and that if we stay calm they will follow our lead.

  13. Kristen Daukas December 4, 2012 at 5:30 am

    I’m with you on this one. I try not to become too exasperated with my oldest daughter when she puts things on her list and it’s things that I wouldn’t even buy for myself. The day that mama spends $200 on a pair of shoes for her own feet is the day that she’ll think about spending it on you – the one who hasn’t stopped growing. I can’t blame her though, I remember the competitive list building game at school. I just have to work that much harder at keeping her grounded and reminding her that the season is about family and friends and making memories that will take her into her adulthood.

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      Yeah, I know that story. My kids sometimes come up with some interesting requests for things that cost more than I think is/are reasonable.

      It gets a bit crazy, but I suppose that helping the kids navigate/manage this time of year is part of being a parent. I just wish it wasn’t so over-the-top, but since that is unlikely to change any time soon…

  14. Sapna December 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Joshua

    The same goes with me as well, I dislike holiday season or for that matters holidays because of traffic chaos. Also have already taught my children to buy when there is a discount or it is offseason – I pay special importance to this.
    Charity is when I have extra money or the one asking for is really needy, nowhere related to the holidays.

    Thanks
    Sapna

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Sapna,

      Traffic chaos is right. The holiday season in Los Angeles makes traffic around the malls and various shopping areas quite unpleasant so I do my best to avoid them.

      I like giving back and helping others, which I suppose is part of why I get crazy about it being limited.

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