A friend of mine quit drinking a few years back and I asked him why. “When life is always a party, it’s never a party,” he said. That’s how I feel about Christmas.
When it’s always Christmas, it’s never Christmas.
But before you brand me as a bitter “bah humbug” type, let me explain. I love Christmas and I think I know how to make it even better.
For reasons mostly having to do with commerce, the Christmas season has been arriving earlier each year.
Cardboard cutouts of Santa hawking holiday trinkets are now appearing next to back-to-school displays in early September.
According to NerdWallet, 20% of Americans start Christmas shopping in the final weeks of summer and that number doubles even before Halloween.
“Forty percent have started Christmas shopping before Halloween,” Bernacchi University of Detroit-Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi explained to WWJ News Radio. “The pumpkins haven't even gone away yet and Christmas shopping — I mean, 40 percent? That’s just unbelievable.”
It’s simple math: the longer the season, the more you will spend. And we’re doing a fantastic job of obeying our retail masters.
While some look at premature Christmasing with skepticism, others are praising the trend, claiming it gives low-income people a chance to spread out their holiday spending.
But maybe the Christmas industrial complex shouldn’t be pressuring people to overextend themselves in the first place?
Studies show that the average American racked up about $1,000 in holiday debt debt in 2016, and many were still paying it off by Christmas 2017.
Christmas is such an all-pervasive part of American culture that goes on for so long, its magic has been diminished.
When Christmas music is on the radio from November 1 to January 15, it starts to become audio wallpaper.
When “Home Alone” is constantly on television for three months straight, watching Joe Pesci get hit in the nuts feels a little less triumphant.
The pressure to spend seems to intensify every year.
The days of aggressive Black Friday marketing seem quaint now that we get hit again three days later with Cyber Monday.
No one should blame you if you feel like Christmas feels a lot more like an obligation than a celebration.
We should celebrate Christmas every other year.
Imagine, if when the Christmas hullabaloo dies down in the early days 2019, it wouldn't come around until 2020?
There would be an entire year with no Christmas music, no holiday tearjerkers on the Hallmark Channel, and no viral videos of people getting cold cocked in a Walmart while trying to buy a $9 toaster.
None of it. Winter would come and go in peace.
One of the greatest joys of Christmas when I was a kid was waiting for it to happen. For a seven year old, the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas felt like three years.
Let's bring that back.
Anticipation is such a powerful emotion that Americans will actually watch curling once every four years in the Winter Olympics. Not because watching the athletic equivalent of some guy plowing his driveway is exciting, but because it's a rare occurrence.
The same goes for the McRib. It tastes like boiled egg cartons topped with ketchup, but the novelty keeps bringing us back.
Imagine if you actually had to wait for Christmas season to arrive instead of saying, “Wow. It’s Christmas time already? Time flies.”
But what about Jesus?
Every-other-year Christmas would be fantastic for Christians who want to remind people of the real reason for the season. On non-Christmas years, Christians could take that time to focus on the birth of their lord and savior without all of distraction caused by crass commercialism and secular traditions.
They could call it Jesus’s Birthday!
When the entire block isn’t flooded with Christmas lights, your big ass manger scene will finally get the attention its due.
Economically, people would be in a better place as well. Sure, consumer spending would plummet towards the end of the year, but the average person would be carrying around a lot less debt.
So what will we do on December 25?
For generations, Jewish people have celebrated December 25 by eating Chinese food and watching a movie. This seems like a pretty damn good way to celebrate non-Christmas.
Although it would suck for Jewish people. What was once a quiet dinner with the family at Changs would be ruined by a flock of ravenous gentiles overloading on kung pao chicken.
Some people who are reading this may say I’m part of the never-ending war on Christmas, and label me a blasphemer or communist. But I bet there are a lot of people out there who agree and are afraid to address the topic with their friends, families or coworkers.
So, let’s start a movement online. Because it’s a lot easier and less time consuming than taking it to the streets.
If you agree that Christmas should be every other year, jump out of the Christmas closet and share your support on social media at #StopChristmas2019.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your America. Do it for Christmas.