The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Gales Gevalts: Stop complaining about the Christmas season

Photo by Kosuke Yo
File photo by Kosuke Yo

This is the third draft of this Opinion piece that I’ve typed out, and I think I’ve finally reached a decent conclusion here, folks.

Columnist David Gales. Photo contributed

When I sat down to write this, I wanted to write about how irritated the Christmas season makes me. I wanted to write about how I can’t escape Christmas music no matter where I go on campus, that it taunts me in the JRC and whispers to me over my shoulder in my residence hall and even shows up in my Spotify recommendations when I put in earbuds to drown it all out. I wanted to write about how the town of Grinnell has a holiday calendar packed with Christmas events, and that I feel like there’s not a lot of good representation for Jewish folks like me at Grinnell.

It makes sense to feel this way, I think. There are no Hanukkah events being promoted around campus as far as I can tell, and the town of Grinnell itself certainly doesn’t do much in the way of Jewish activities and observance. And even if it did, December has always been invaded by unwanted Christmas music and decorations everywhere for me. I was a proper Grinch as a kid. I grew up learning to dread December because everyone seemed to be celebrating a holiday I had never observed, enjoyed or really understood.

If I’m being honest, I still don’t understand it. I don’t really know why people love Christmas so much. Maybe for some it’s religiously powerful. Maybe folks have a familial or historical connection to the holiday. Or maybe they just love the spirit of the holidays. I’m not sure I’ll ever really get it myself, on a personal level. But I don’t have to.

Because here’s the thing, my friends. Even if you don’t celebrate any of the holidays that people equate with December, you’re still living the holiday season whether you like it or not. The decorations are everywhere, and I have to say that I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the string lights in D-Hall today. They look good! They just look good.

And as far as Grinnell’s December all-campus events go, most of them are pretty non-denominational as far as I can tell. Arctic Lights and Winter Waltz are more winter-themed than anything else. And sure, some residence halls have Christmas door-decorating contests, but they’re voluntary, and even though I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas ornaments, I’ve been pretty impressed by some of the doors I’ve seen around campus.

I’m not going to get into the materialistic aspects of the holidays or how businesses capitalize on it, because I think that’s a separate discussion that’s more involved with economics and politics than it is with the social and personal parts of the season. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy the holiday season. You don’t even have to like Christmas, really.

Because even if you don’t (and to be clear, I don’t), you’re going to be around people that do. And that atmosphere counts for something. I’ve met more people at Grinnell that love Christmas songs and movies than I’ve met any other one place. And I still don’t enjoy Christmas music, but I do like seeing how much it makes some folks smile. I don’t think I could ever begrudge someone of something that makes them happy that easily. It’s just music to me, but to some people it’s so much more.

I asked a close friend from back home what he thought of the holiday season, and he told me he liked it because it’s a good excuse to be happy for no real reason. In essence, that’s all I’m trying to convey here: the holiday season makes some people really, really happy, and you don’t need any ulterior motive to feel that emotion. While I don’t celebrate Christmas and still don’t understand it fully, I think I’m starting to. The holiday season lets people be in a good mood and be good to other people for the sake of doing so.

When framed that way, it’s hard for me to see a reason not to like December.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *