We need to emphasize the art of giving this holiday season

By MARISSA KRASNY
On November 15, 2020

Photo courtesy of Hades2k, Flickr

A few weeks ago, we disposed of our carved pumpkins, removed our ghosts and ghouls from our front lawns and put them back into our basements until next year. The leaves are falling, apple cider is flowing and welcoming the autumn chill. 

For me, post-Halloween is all about Christmas. I’m not a religious person, so the significance of the holiday for me is more culture and family based. All of my favorite childhood memories can be linked to the buildup to Christmas. I recall decorating the Christmas tree, the first snow of winter and the day we can finally light the fireplace after long months of inactivity. 

I can’t really explain the reasoning behind why I don’t gain a lot of enjoyment from fall holidays. I like Halloween. I’ve always been a fan of things that go bump in the night. I like spooky books, and Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite poets. I make it a habit to go home and take my 10-year-old sister trick or treating, and we watch scary movies from a fifth grader's standard. The holiday itself is fun, but the family aspect is important to me as well.

By this logic, Thanksgiving should be enjoyable to me too. Family and togetherness is one of its most important tenets. I enjoy a good, heavy meal and the “Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade” is always a fun watch. So combining all these aspects should make a good holiday that goes to the top of my list.

It simply doesn't, though. 

I don’t think Thanksgiving is unique enough for me to get Christmas-level excited about it. Its basic purpose and execution is fairly simple when you look at it: a large family dinner with certain foods associated with it. It can be replicated easily at any point during the year without any fuss. The same can’t be said for Halloween, because masked folk showing up at your door at any other point in the year would be a cause to call the cops. 

In addition, it’s not a global holiday. It’s an American holiday to celebrate a rather bleak moment in our history. Contrary to what we learned in elementary school, it wasn’t as peaceful as we were led to believe. 

Christmas is simply special. The music, decorations and special little rituals, like present-wrapping and tree decorating, make the holiday feel like magic to me. The tiny Christmas lights lighting up the night sky draws me back to my youth and it warms me more than a roaring fireplace. Christmas to me represents all of the goodness in humanity. It’s a holiday of giving, sharing, loving and bringing warmth in a cold time.

This is why the holiday season in 2020 will be more poignant than ever. The amount of loss endured this year has devastated society. One of the few things that may be able to cheer us up is good ol' fashioned holiday cheer. In many households, money will be tight and many businesses have closed down. Gifts may be limited, but I believe that their meaning will be strengthened.

So this season, support local business by sourcing your gifts from them. Holidays are about giving, so give back to your community. Spread all the holiday cheer you can. We need it more than ever.

 

mkrasny@ramapo.edu

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