I received a lot of grief from Tuesday's blog post. I admit, it wasn't one of my better posts, but I think the main point of my thoughts was lost. So I thought I would clarify, and maybe back-pedal a little.
I love getting together with family and friends over the Christmas holidays. Nothing is more important to me than my family and my friends. Every year for about a decade or so, I have taken time off work from December 24 until the first Monday or Tuesday after New Years Day. And in that week or so, I make myself available to spend as much time with those that matter to me.
Throughout the year, I wish for world peace and goodwill towards one another. But at this time of year, when many religions consider this a sacred time, I'm especially hopeful that we all put our differences aside and take a break from all the hate.
But I can do without all the packaging, all the trimming, and all the commercialization that comes at this time of year. And the earlier that the retail market seems to push that commercialization on us (do we really need to hear Christmas jingles and see the festive decorations before Remembrance Day? do Americans enjoy combining a time to be thankful with a season to be fighting over the last Xbox on the shelf?), the more the spirit of the season gets sucked out of me.
I like low key. I like simple.
I'm perfectly happy to head out on my family's annual pilgrimage to the Thomas Tree Farm, where the kids play an integral part in helping choose our Christmas tree. I love how they get excited about riding the horse-drawn wagon, navigating the seemingly endless rows of evergreens until they see their ideal size and shape, about the ride back from the fields, where they partake in home-made oatmeal cookies and hot chocolate, and sit by the log fire. It's a great family event.
I'm not against the Christmas tree. My family celebrates Christmas—the peace and time with family and friends—and that holiday tradition includes the tree.
I can do without covering our house in exterior lights, and for the past few years I've kept it at a minimum: last year, we had so few lights outside that you wouldn't know that we celebrated Christmas at all. And I feel (that is, it's my personal taste) that houses that are wrapped in thousands of multicoloured lights and have every part of the lawn filled with fake reindeer, snowmen, and Santas are an eyesore.
But that's just me.
And I don't feel that all Christmas lights are distasteful.
I do like seeing a simple string of light or a bush or tree lit up. I prefer a single colour used, or at the most, two. I like low key. I like simple.
And I really like the lights that are installed on the trees in the downtown core. They add colour to what is otherwise a dark and bland part of town, particularly at night, when parts become almost a ghost town.
I especially love the lights on Parliament Hill and at the War Memorial. These landmarks are beautiful on their own, but in the bleakness of this dark time of year, they give life. Every year, I take the time to go downtown and capture these lights. It's part of my holiday tradition.
I may be curmudgeony during this time of year, but it's not the spirit of the holidays that get to me. It's all the overpackaging that seems to cover and smother it.