By Robyn-Jay Bage
I was driving home from work last night and had an unfortunate epiphany: Christmas is next week. At other periods in my life, I might have been excited at this revelation. I love the spirit of the season. But this year, it all seems rather anticlimactic—we’ve been celebrating this holiday since October.
When did we jump directly from Monster Mash to Jingle Bell Rock?
And what about Thanksgiving, the holiday without gifts? The celebration that consisted of eating too much turkey, enjoying friends and family, and rejoicing in all that we are thankful for?
After much contemplation, I think I have it figured out: Creeping Normalcy.
Dr. Jared Diamond, Professor at the University of California, and winner of numerous accolades (including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship), is credited with coining the phrase. It refers to worsening conditions that happen so slowly that what is considered normal changes almost without notice. You find yourself wondering—years later— how things managed to get so bad.
For example, look at the evolution of Thanksgiving or perhaps, more accurately, Thankschristmas. When I was younger, the only stores that were open Thanksgiving morning were a few gas stations and ONE corner deli/grocery store. If your mom had a cranberry sauce emergency, you could ride your bike there and maybe find a can, dusty from lack of attention, hiding at the back of a shelf over the cash register. Next to the cigarettes.
While digesting a delicious and hyper-caloric meal, everyone planned their attack for the Black Friday Sales. The stores opened late enough in the morning to allow you to sleep off the L-Tryptophan hangover you nursed with hair of the dog, ahem, turkey, that bit you and still make it to the bargain bin on time.
Compare to this year: Controversy bloomed well before the holiday about the stores that dare to be open, not just early on Friday, but early on Thursday! Moreover, warnings were issued about lines forming two weeks prior to the auspicious event. Well, you say, the sales were worth it. No, not so much. Many of the sales we were compelled to salivate over were not awe inspiring—some were not even the best prices of the year.
To be clear, I am not besmirching the artisans and shop owners who make their living enticing us to buy their wares. I’m not even attempting a commentary on the tribulations of working on a holiday—many people have to and personally, “been there, done that.” I am merely pointing out that incremental changes over the years have apparently shifted what we considered to be normal for the holiday season.
Happy Thanksmasyear. Is this the holiday we want to have? If not, shame on us for not noticing. My wish for you is that you take the time this season to pay attention. Stop. Breathe. Focus every day, every moment you can, on that which is important to you. Little by little, life changes. Don’t miss it.
Merry Christmas, Joyful Holidays, and Happy New Year to you and yours.