The great New York pastime of hating and loving the holidays

Last year I was waiting for a bus on Main Street in Flushing when the guy on line next to me began complaining.

“You see that snowflake, right there,” he said to the woman he was with, referencing a large snowflake make of lights suspended over the heavily trafficked street. “That represents everything wrong with society today.”

While it was definitely too early to put up holiday decorations, the snowflakes over the street are not the ultimate illustration of our society’s ills.

Holiday decorations before Thanksgiving are definitely bad taste, but complaining about the holidays to prove how edgy you are is probably worse. I have no idea if the guy bitching about the snowflakes over Main Street celebrates any holidays this time of year, but judging by his appearance and the language he spoke the odds are good that he gives and receives gifts in the month of December.

Years ago I worked in a department store and the store had its own full-time staff that were in charge of all decorations. No matter what the season or the sale, they were always hard at work taking down or putting up something different. I remember seeing them put up a giant wreath in either August or September and I thought it was ridiculous, so I asked one of the guys about it. “It’s not that we want to be putting up holiday decorations this early,” he said. “It’s that there’s so much of it that if we don’t start on it now, we’ll never get all of it done by Black Friday.”

I’m as jaded about the holidays as the next New Yorker. People take them way too seriously. It’s supposed to be such an enjoyable time of the year that people go into it expecting perfection, when perfection just isn’t part of normal or happy life. Last year people bitched that the Starbucks cups weren’t heavy enough on the Christmas theme (I remind people that 7 Eleven has green and red coffee cups all goddamn year).

The proper response to the flurry of early holiday decorations is to not bitch about them and just go about your normal life. The holidays will be there for you when you want to pay attention to them.

One of the things I’m looking forward to most this holiday season is watching Bad Santa 2. The original Bad Santa became my go-to holiday movie after I saw it in the theater in 2003 and it cracked me up with a depraved holiday cynicism that ought to resonate with any skeptic.

And I’m sincerely looking forward to the holidays this year. It’s been a long year in a lot of ways. The world is indeed a dark and depressing place most of the time and there are a lot of things to be worried and anxious about. But if you have family or close friends you can spend time with and have a roof over your head and food in your stomach this holiday season, you have a reason to be glad.

And New York is beautiful over the holidays. Even the most jaded denizen of the Big Apple can find beauty among the schlocky tourist crap that permeates everything. Enjoy.

 

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  1. Your guide to finding sane holiday spots | Matthew Sheahan - December 7, 2016

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