This time of year can be difficult for some — people who are going through a rough time because they are sick or alone — because we have grown to believe that Christmas is a family tradition. For those who don’t have family, or can’t be with them on Christmas, this day may be intolerable and feel more like a weight.
Removing the family-tradition weight from Christmas and replacing it with the lightness of Festivus will infuse somber souls with the whimsy of humor — the great equalizer.
Just thinking about Festivus makes me smile. It adds another dimension to our prepackaged beliefs that the holiday season is all about family. Maybe it’s time to rewire our thinking and embrace the possibility that Christmas can be more than the Pavlovian warm and fuzzy feeling we associate with the day. That “warm and fuzzy” can be two of the many other feelings that can light up our brains on Christmas day.
Maybe Festivus appeals to me because I am a holiday heretic and not beholden to anyone this time of year. Culturally, I’m supposed to celebrate Chanukah but when I was young, my family always celebrated Christmas.
Over the years, the message of love and giving that once symbolized Christmas has been shoved to the back of our holiday consciousness by brash commercialization that has elbowed its way to the front. Christmas songs blaring from speakers in supermarkets and retail stores, give me a headache, shatter my focus and shorten the time I spend there shopping.
Mostly, I try to avoid shopping at brick and mortar stores when possible this time of year. The onslaught of Christmas — the crowds and circus like atmosphere — is too much for me. The spectacle and image of screaming shoppers thrusting elbows and impatient drivers honking horns lingers in my head and silences the true meaning of the holiday.
Festivus, a holiday conceived in Larry David’s head, is the antithesis of the spectacle that Christmas has become. It gives people back their humanity lost in the seizure-inducing blinking light displays and siren-sounding songs that assaults us every time we walk into a store.
Yes, Christmas still thrills and delights the children. But for those of us who long ago learned that Santa was a fraud, Christmas is epitomized by YouTube videos of shoppers being trampled at Wal-Mart.
That’s why I embrace the levity of Festivus. The idea and the pole will never grow old and won’t kill the 21 species of trees we smother with Christmas lights and tinsel.
That’s why I say, “Happy Festivus for the rest of us!”