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Mollywood BLVD: How the corporations stole Christmas

December 11, 2017

The Holiday Season seems to start earlier and earlier every year.

My husband welcomes it! Maybe you do too. Now, I don’t mean to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but I started seeing Christmas decorations up at Hobby Lobby in August – four months before Christmas?  Ba-humbug!

I’m sorry, but if it’s not 80 percent mark down from last year, I am not buying it. First of all, yes, of course this is the most wonderful time of the year, but when retailers are trying to shove wreaths and tinsel down my throat and it’s not even Labor Day, I have to roll my eyes. Santa can wait, mommy still has to buy the kids school supplies before I worry about what they want for Christmas!

Starbucks rolled out their new “holiday” cup, which by the way, are not red this year, on Nov. 1. That was precisely one day after they discontinued their limited Zombie Frappucino for Halloween! We still had an entire month before Thanksgiving, and we were expected to drink our Pumpkin Spice Lattes out of Holiday cups already.  And to my neighbors who bypassed Halloween altogether and put up their Christmas lights in September, I know that it’s no fun to do it in 35 degree weather, but stop ruining life! And don’t get me started on Black Friday, or as I like to call it, the nightmare before Christmas.

Now it’s December, and I welcome the holidays with a warm heart and open arms. I just hate to see it cheapened and commercialized so much.

Not just the department stores and big box stores starting their catalogues and window displays months earlier than ever before, or the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also the price tag on what our family is expecting. One of the hot items again this year is, of course, the Nintendo Switch, which I am begrudgingly buying for my son Elliott. I can justify it because, while my son tires of his electronics rather quickly, I know my husband will get our money’s worth playing it.

We are splurging on the Nintendo Switch for my son, because he literally put nothing else on his list aside from a few games for the system, but my 13-year-old daughter wants the iPhone 8. Notice how Apple conveniently releases the latest and greatest and most costly devices just ahead of the holidays? Better she asks for the iPhone 8 than the iPhone X, but still! Jiminy Christmas, how can we even keep up with the expectations anymore? It has been six years since her show has been on the air, and Oprah is still releasing her holiday gift list of “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” that includes a $45 shower turban.

Is the most wonderful time of year also the most stressful? It can be, especially if you are me, and have had more car breakdowns and adventures into snow banks than I’d like to admit on those snowy commutes to grandma’s house. I keep AAA earning that holiday double-time. ‘Tis the Season to be Molly….But if buying the latest gadgets isn’t in your budget, don’t break the bank! There are plenty of ways to make the holidays special without racking up credit card debt.  Shop locally if you can! There are many wonderful items at local retailers that will make perfect holiday gifts, and also help a family put food on their table this holiday season. Or volunteer! It is a time for giving back, not just consuming.

The real reason for the season is something that can’t be manufactured. It is the ineffable feeling of good will, time with family and friends. Assuming you have a good relationship with family, this can be one of the best times of year to reunite and enjoy each other’s company. Growing up in the 80s, I have so many great memories of sitting around the fireplace, my aunts and uncles in their turtle necks and holiday sweaters, singing Christmas carols or listening to them on vinyl. One of the staples on my dad’s side was “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”  On my mom’s, it was us kids performing “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,”  “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” and other classic carols in front of the Christmas tree for the adults.

My extended family has now started to do a really fun gift exchange game called “A Few of My Favorite Things.” You just draw three names and exchange three of your favorite $5-10 items (could be DVD’s from the Wal-Mart 5 dollar bin, a bag of beef jerky from your local meat market, or simply a pair of fuzzy socks). It’s something you love, that you think others might enjoy, and it is inexpensive! We still put on a show our parents, but now it is all of the original cousins, who are now adults for the most part, and our children putting on the performances. Two years ago, we performed the carols in the style of Pitch Perfect 2’s infamous “riff off.”

My mother-in-law has a game where she wraps candy and cash in a huge ball of saran wrap, and we are timed trying to unravel it and retrieve prizes before the buzzer goes off. It is a riot, and it goes a lot further than power tools you know your husband will never use or perfume that she will only wear once a year for your anniversary dinner because she is too sweet to say she hates it.

For the past several years my grandmother, who sadly passed away this fall, orchestrated a horse led sleigh ride through our family’s woods over freshly fallen snow.  Beautiful memories like this mean more than any object she could have bought us. They will last a lifetime. And it is times like these where life feels like a movie.

Speaking of movies, one of my absolute favorite family traditions is watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, who hosts Christmas at his house. We love it so much in fact, I bought my husband Wes an officially licensed National Lampoon Marty Moose egg nog mug our first Christmas together.  For Christmas at my dad’s, we all wear our pajamas and cuddle up to enjoy a Christmas movie. Whether it’s my dad’s favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life, or the kids’ choice, Home Alone, these are the moments of togetherness that truly make the holidays bright.

Now that it’s here, it is going to fly by in the blink of an eye, so embrace this joyous time of year.  Don’t worry, you only have to wait about eight months and it will rear its jolly red and green head.

Happy Holidays, everyone, go spread some cheer!

 

By Molly Penny

SouthernMinn Scene | editor@southernminnscene.com |
115 5th Street West Northfield, MN 55057