5 Days of Holiday Bull$hit

This is the introduction to 5 Days of Holiday Bull$hit: A five-part series on Christmas consumer crap. I’m into it, but not into it enough to cover 12 days of this spending mess. I’m not trying to be a song, thanks.

Unlike most people, I’m drawn to bull$hit. There’s a certain calm I feel knowing someone or something is full of it. It’s not that I feel superior upon recognizing the bull$hit, it’s more of a comfort knowing that perceiving the crap has removed all doubt.

holiday-bullshit

History has proven the prevalence of bull$hit. I should know. I’ve studied (and passed) many a history course over my scholastic career, and most of my A+ essays were padded with copious amounts of the stuff.

I’ve also spent a decade working in office environments where bull$hit is shared freely at coffee stations, across cubicles, and in the boss’s office. This bull$hit may be passed as either corporate gossip or gospel — it doesn’t matter. Office bull$hit by any other name is still bull$hit.

I’m far from the first to delve into and define bull$hit. Others have pondered the craft well before me. The Urban Dictionary, “a website ostensibly created as a resource and a snapshot of the phenomenon known as urban language” defines bull$hit as “when a person is communicating through their ass.” Hey, it’s a start.

Philosopher (yes, philosopher) Harry G. Frankfurt did a number on us in his book On Bullshit, where he explores how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying.

Dr. Frankfurt writes:

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it.”

That’s kinda sorta a load of bull$hit. Maybe I’m just “communicating through my ass,” but I think we’ve collectively lost the “ability to recognize bull$hit” around the week of December 25th. Our Bull$hit-O-Meters take a particular $hit kicking when the holiday season arrives (starting now in October), and continue flailing well into the New Year.

bullshit-o-meter

I’d like to be “confident” and tell you we’re all super smart and can “avoid being taken in by it,” but then I’d be bull$hitting you. Using history as a guide, we mostly revel in the fervor that is a retailer’s holiday bull$hit by buying into the annual spending spree (starting now in October), and we’ll do it all again next year.

Weeeee.

So this short series is about holiday bull$hit. I usually take this time of year to write about thrifty gifts in a jar, Christmas decorations, DIY Christmas crackers, and frugally fun gift ideas disguised as ornaments — hello panties! OK, I’ve shared smart shopping tactics and other consumer savvy stuff too. But this year I’m firing back at the crap.

I’m taking aim at the bunk. I’m calling out the seasonal nonsense.

You can help identify the bull$hit too.

Tell me what bugs you most about the holiday consumerism that was Christmas, and I’ll promise to never send you any free crap in the mail.

Since Squawkfox is usually a bull$hit-free zone, this may be your only shot to gripe about how retailers grope your money every December (starting now in October).

I’m going to have some fun. And that’s no bull$hit.

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Rob November 26th, 2013

    I don’t have any specific thing – the entire season from Thanksgiving to New Years makes me want to gag. In my world the year really only has 11 months, plus 30-ish days of “I hate this shit!”.

    I buy less at this time of year than any other time, as I loathe the music and hype in the stores. And, to be truthful, the bullshit in the stores is what has driven me to buy most everything I buy from Amazon year round.

    I have friends who save their vacation time until December and leave the country/continent. This year I’m joining that crowd.

    The one “seasonal” thing I’m taking advantage of is Apple’s policy of giving you most of November and December, and the first week of January, to return anything bought in that time frame.

  2. Lisa Krueger November 26th, 2013

    Hi Kerry,

    The programming drip drip drip of the fricking Christmas musak track in every store makes me avoid stores, chain restaurants and coffee shops,and basically ANY PLACE THAT HAS BIG MEDIA ADVERTISING especially all shopping malls until well after Boxing Day. I don’t ever go to malls because of the horrible lighting, lack of oxygen, ads everywhere and most of all the communal greed/fear energy of the mall rats which clings to you after you leave. I actually feel drained and require a shower and some good essential oils afterwards.
    We are so lucky in Toronto that we can go to small independent shops that sell unique items should we choose to buy gifts during the season. I can’t stand what Christmas has become and refuse to participate in it. I think it has become almost demonic! :)
    I make small gifts or try to think of an activity or experience I could offer someone “on my list” rather than a physical thing. I am so done with the consumerism feeding frenzy.
    Thanks for letting me vent!

    Lisa

  3. Loulou November 26th, 2013

    ARRRGH what drives me nuts is how people are a$$holes to each other all year, then make a big deal about buying stuff and eating “special” (read: obscene amounts of) food and faking being nice for a few days. I’d prefer to spend time with people I mutually like and respect, and if anyone wants to give me a gift, give it whenever they feel like it (and not when the calendar dictates a religious figure I don’t believe in did or didn’t do something). I’ll do them the honour of the same, and cherishing and respecting them 365 days a year.

  4. Karla November 26th, 2013

    I hate how the discussions become about what people want and are getting or going for vacations, versus the real joy of spending time with those you love, hopefully having a few days off to enjoy yourselves on.
    My best friends and I re-gift for Christmas out of what we don’t need that we already have…and we look forward to that more than anything that can be bought.
    I don’t like the malls or major stores near the holidays, so am done shopping usually by mid November to avoid the hoopla (here in Canada. I don’t need to be in debt or stressed out due to my spending habits, especially at Christmas so deliberately choose not to!

  5. Melissa November 26th, 2013

    I completely agree with Rob, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. I have a young niece and nephew and I’m struggling to find ways to put more meaning into the holiday, not having it just be about trading made in some-3rd-world-country plastic crap with friends and family. I think we have an opportunity to change some traditions and make holidays more about family time.
    My first pledge this year is to not ask anyone if “they’ve finished their shopping, yet”, I just need to come up with an appropriate response when someone asks me that question to maybe get them to re-think what this time of year is or could be.
    Thanks for the great post, Kerry!

  6. Barb November 26th, 2013

    Hi, Kerry:

    I’m happy to say I don’t do “the holidays,” and so I avoid the BS and the expense completely.

    It’s just lovely not to go into debt for no particular reason, and just buy stuff for people when I feel like it and can afford it.

  7. Cindy P November 26th, 2013

    The special “gifts” that show up only during the Christmas season. Stores have whole racks of them. Change banks that talk. Golf club cleaners. Heated window scrapers. Pocket fishing poles. Baskets full of cheap candy with a cheesy candy dish. While we are on cheese….boxes of cheese flavored goop packaged with tubes of meat flavored goop. Does anyone really buy this stuff? Does anyone really want it? If you do, wait until the week after Christmas and it will be marked down by 75%.

  8. Simon November 26th, 2013

    I do not buy items during Christmas time. At all. What I *do* buy are foodstuffs that I do not buy during the year. I take advantage of the fact that many people I love do not work or work less days during the 2 weeks.

    What I do is I cook for them, or go and visit them and bring food to share with them. And since most of the dishes I will cook require a lot more time than what I usually cook, what I give my loved ones is my time (both in cooking and in being there to share the meal), dedication and love.

  9. Odette November 26th, 2013

    What bugs me about x-mas excessive consumerism is that our senses are being bombarded all that was traditionnally reserv ed for x mas time (which is really to me from mid Dcember until New Years as opposed to October to February). The retail industry bull$hits us into thinking we need to rush and buy buy buy before it’s too late. The x mas music, the decorations, etc start waaayyyyyy to early and when x mas is finally here, all the magic is gone. The sights, sounds, aromas and all around fuzzy feeling inside doesn’t fizz us anymore and just seem like an everyday thing.

  10. Jane November 26th, 2013

    For the last six years I have taken an extra part-time position at our mall selling gift cards! Wow, what an eye-opener!! The money people spend on those cards is crazy and most of them never get spent which shocks me even more! I’m a mother of four and thankfully our family never got sucked into the commercial hoopla and although we do gift exchanges, they are small, thoughtful, sometimes homemade or second hand. We do enjoy cooking/eating together and spending quality time together. What I hate most is listening to all the people complaining about the debt, how much they hate the holidays, etc, but never doing anything to change that!!

  11. Debby Moreau November 26th, 2013

    Honestly I have to say that one of the things that bugs me the most is people complaining about how much they hate Christmas. Really? I suspect that these people tend to “dislike” a lot of things. Just ignore the parts you don’t like, avoid the places that make your blood boil and make sure that you’re being good to people all year round. Other than that just breathe deeply and you’ll get through it – again! Merry Christmas everybody. ;)

  12. Ducklady November 26th, 2013

    It took me years but I gradually got out of the seasonal bull$hit of the winter holidays. The hardest thing was to get my Norman Rockwell sister to understand I do NOT enjoy crowds, especially of relatives (well, I didn’t tell her that last part since most of them are her kids and grandkids), have no religious connection to the Christmas holiday (and if I did I’d be in church, not in stores), don’t need to be gaining weight, hate to shop, have a tiny house in which I spend a lot of time finding things to send to Goodwill. Winters in northern New England are no picnic. It’s the worst time of year for me. I am NOT looking for a hobby or something to do or a reason to shovel out to clean off the car to go to… crowds of people.

    Gak. Thank you SO much for this chance to get it off my chest.

    I eventually managed to persuade her that I wasn’t going to the annual “do” and was not up for presents just because someone turned a page on the calendar. I prefer to give gifts throughout the year randomly as I find things that click. My sweetie and I spend a quiet day together, reveling in the change to kick back and catch up on things–and each other.

    By the way, I never set foot in a store after October 31. I am amazed at the descriptions some of you here have written about what’s in the mall stores (I never go to them, thank god I live in a small town with small stores). Thank you for reminding me what I stopped that $hite.

    And now, it’s time for a lovely cup of tea. Thank you, Kerry. I totally love you, hope you’re doing well in Toronto, one of my very favourite cities. I think you’re in Toronto now, right?

  13. Sonia November 26th, 2013

    What offends is malls, which advertise themselves as a recreational space for kids and adults, while bombarding the senses with large screen images on a multitude of screens everywhere one looks- loud sounds and moving images at every turn, a nightmare of sensory overload to sell products.

    So we stay out of these places whenever possible and go to the place where we celebrate the nativity and not the dollar-the church, where we remember the real Gift of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. We don’t fail to find his FREE gifts of grace and peace whenever we call on Him.

  14. Donna November 26th, 2013

    I do try to take advantage of holiday sales. If I’m going to buy something, anyway, I wait and check the prices to see if they go lower at this time. I don’t fall for the 40% off! ads. I know what I could buy the items for at other times, on sale, so I look to see if I can get it for less. Sometimes I can, sometimes not. But it can be convenient to buy several things at the same time, since everything goes on the supposed sale. So I don’t have to keep looking for, say, an i7 Toshiba laptop to go on sale, and look at different times for a new fridge to go on sale. They will probably both go on sale during the holidays. But I TRY not to buy things not on my list. No impulse buys. And I try to order online, to avoid the hectic store experience. It takes discipline to avoid impulse buys (best to stay out of the stores, since everything there is geared to tempt you), but it can be done.

  15. Josephine November 26th, 2013

    Oh, the amounts of bull$hit surrounding Christmas is neck deep and rising. From the sales of Christmas kitsch beginning before Hallowe’en, to the fact that “Black Friday” sales are now beginning the day before, on (US) Thanksgiving, to the canned muzak, to the “all Christmas music” formats that an increasing number of radio stations go to and starting earlier in the year (a notable example being SiriusXM’s “40sOn4″ channel, which started all Christmas music well before (US) Thanksgiving this year), to the rampant commercialism that surrounds Christmas, and even to the fact that some religious whackos are yelling about a supposed “War on Christmas” every time the word Christmas is not used in holiday advertisements or people wish each other “Happy Holidays”. Even Christmas in July bugs me!

    Christmas has become so diluted that it has lost its meaning, whether that meaning be the birth of Christ (who was actually born in Spring, but that’s a different conversation) or the celebration of the shortest day of the year and the return of longer days with more sunlight. The accoutrement of Christmastime belongs with those celebrations, not this incessant “BUY! BUY!! BUY!!!” that are getting ever longer each year. It’s supposed to be a special time, but how can it be special when it’s three months long? That’s your real “War on Christmas”.

  16. Dawn November 26th, 2013

    I just have to say that I love this post! It’s nice to see that many others feel exactly the same way I do about the crazy consumerism feeding frenzy that pollutes this time of year. My biggest pet-peeve this year is the aggressiveness of “Thanksgiving” Black Friday promotions on the *Canadian* side of the border. Just gross!

  17. Elise November 26th, 2013

    I usually end up working through the holidays. I kind of like this time of year because I can make more $$ I can use when the hours drop off in January. Our holidays are almost non existant in our family now. We aren’t big on gift giving, and last year I didn’t even go home as I had to work. The malls and extreme consumerism are a great way to capitalize on extra retail working hours if you don’t mind the bustle. And the screeming. Do I miss spending time with family, yes, but all the gift crap, not one bit.

  18. Katherine November 26th, 2013

    Santa Claus is the biggest Christmas Bull$hit and the main driver behind all this consumerism. What does he have to do with the birth of Jesus or the solstice?

    We made a conscious decision to not celebrate Christmas when my first child was born 14 years ago. We spend time with family and enjoy a much needed rest. No stress, no mountains of wrapping paper and packaging, no cheap plastic crap.

  19. Flora November 26th, 2013

    Can’t comment specifically on Christmas because I stopped celebrating it years ago, for reasons similar to those already described by other readers. But still I think it would be a terrible shame if the bull and worse, the hypocrisy, surrounding conventional Christmas were to ruin the ancient human practice of celebrating holidays. Going back to at least the Ancient Greeks, and probably long before that, holidays have been a way to bring families and communities together, take a break from everyday cares, relax the rules we live by most of the time (e.g. by eating more than we usually do), induce the rich to give to the poor, and even give each other gifts in cultures where that’s the norm. There’s a great deal of social and cultural benefit in all of that if we can resist the marketers’ attempts to convince us that we have to spend more than we can afford. Personally I mark the passing of the seasons by celebrating events in nature such as winter solstice and the chorusing of the peepers in early spring. I also honor certain anniversaries that are special to me alone. Maybe we should all pick our own holidays, based on what is special to us and to our loved ones. It would be hard for marketers to exploit any one holiday if every day were a holiday to someone.

  20. Prudence Marsupial November 26th, 2013

    What absolutely slays me is the amount of sheer idiocy displayed by the people who HAVE to get the latest “must have” item on Black Friday. These cretins get themselves into a lather over a gadget or toy, and wind up literally trampling store employees or fist fighting. The savage pack mentality is not what the holidays are supposed to become.
    And the jerkface retail executives who don’t give a rats ass that their employees are now missing out on Thanksgiving day with their family will hopefully have a good karmic slapdown.

  21. Cassie November 26th, 2013

    Shopping at Walmart.

    That is all.

  22. Rene November 26th, 2013

    I hate how Thanksgiving is almost totally looked over every year! Christmas music is everywhere where way before Thanksgiving and now Black friday sales even start on Thanksgiving Day so more employees don’t even get a full Holiday to spend with their families! I fear that each year it will only get worse until one day, in the not so distant future, there will not be a Thanksgiving Holiday! The traditions of Thanksgiving will have all been forgotten and will replaced with Greed! Wow! Very sad!
    In our family we celebrate and enjoy one holiday at a time! We love Thanksgiving and we love Christmas, but we make sure to celebrate the true meanings and try to ignore the craziness and greediness out in the world around us. We are trying to keep the traditions alive! :)

  23. Lori November 26th, 2013

    I love Christmas. I love the music, the traditions, all of it. BUT, i hate what it’s become, how it’s just another excuse for people to overspend on crap no one needs and no one asked for. People seem to thrive on complaining and Christmas gives them another excuse to be a martyar. Guess what? if you don’t want to do the office cookie exhange-say no! don’t want to listen to christmas music for a month-then don’t! if you can’t afford extravegant gifts, instead of spending the month of december groaning and moaning and rushing around spending money you don’t have, why not start thinking Christmas earlier in the year and plan ahead to make or do something thoughful for someone? this year we are focusing more on ‘experiences’ with our kids than ‘stuff’. Yes, we do Santa, Elf on the Shelf and all that, but we CHOOSE to and WANT to and are saying no to a lot of other useless crap that people seem only to willing to shove down our throats.

    great post

  24. Cyndi November 26th, 2013

    I love Christmas. I was brought up with Christmas pageants with bags of candy for the kids and a giant delicious apple in the bottom. Candlelight services. Family dinners with 25 people around the table. I love the music, the movies and the sentiment.

    I don’t like the commercialism. People buying crap that you don’t want or need putting themselves in debt doing it. Traveling in horrible weather. There’s always someone you don’t want to spend time with but you have to.

    I was downsized this year and will revert to home made crafted presents. Baked treats that are part of our tradition and family get togethers. Home made decorations….I love this part of Christmas.

  25. Catherine November 26th, 2013

    I am a minister, and I detest the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (increasingly, the time between Halloween and Christmas). I can’t stand the culture wars; can’t stand the frantic craziness that makes everybody sick, and angry, and crazy; can’t stand the push to buy, buy, buy; can’t stand the overeating; and can’t stand the fact that because of all of this, it’s hard (even and especially for a minister) to find a quiet moment to give thanks to God, to feel the longing for God’s presence, to know the joy of God’s coming to earth.

  26. Ruth Cooke November 26th, 2013

    The thing I hate most about Christmas is having to deliver the stupid advertising supplements. I deliver our local paper, but to do that I also am required to deliver a twice-a-week “free” “newspaper” that’s really just a vehicle for ads and a container for flyers. The sheer weight of the paper I have to carry depresses me — all those trees, and for what? So people can throw them in the garbage? Because I know for a fact that most of the people I deliver to don’t even want the flyers — they want the newspaper!

    As for Christmas at my place, I buy gifts for my immediate family and one friend who’s as close to me as a sister, and maybe her grandkids, since I don’t have any grandkids of my own as yet. Often the gifts are homemade, rarely do they exceed a value of fifty bucks, and often they’re second hand.

    I spend a lot of time at church, playing in orchestra concerts, and running a re-gifting event so that folks who have extra stuff (much of it still in original packaging!) can give, and those who can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts can choose some for their families. I don’t tend to spend a lot of time in stores until the week or so before Christmas, when I do all my remaining shopping in one go, from a list.

  27. Betty C November 26th, 2013

    I will be a contrarian and start with what I DO like about the Christmas season. First, I am a Christian and appreciate the opportunity to contemplate the birth of our Savior — God’s gift to all of us. Also, I am energized by the cycles of the year and of our lives, so the winter holiday season, with its traditional shift of focus from harvest, sports and school to home, warmth, family and friends is a welcome one. I enjoy foods of all seasons, and the foods of the holidays are especially delightful.
    That said, the popular interpretation of the holidays, rife with materialism, consumerism and concern over global issues, delivered through entertainment media, advertising and mostly irrelevant “news,” distracts us from these joys. These media messages are veiled with the very values we may hope to espouse (faith, home, seasonal gathering), yet encourage us to act in a way that detracts from them, spending more time acquiring material goods and anguishing over the state of our fallen world than worshipping our Lord, carefully and creatively preparing and enjoying a family meal, or demonstrating our affections for those we love.

  28. Kerry November 26th, 2013

    This post is not anti-Christmas. I’m squawking about the consumerism surrounding what used to be Christmas.

  29. Katy November 26th, 2013

    For me it’s that all the ladymags revert to war language with their holiday content. Chatelaine has an article this month about planning your shopping strategy at the mall, INCLUDING stopping for lunch, because grown-ass women? We have to be told to stop to EAT, LOLZOMG. Or get a ladycoffee with the peppermint in it to “refresh”, or a mani. Or the thought that you have to have a big plan to get ‘er done, like it’s somehow this big challenge that requires a tactical response equal to Bin Laden’s takedown, or like you need permission to forgo a bird and eat pork or something instead for your Christmas meal. It’s so overblown and makes me ANXIOUS as $HIT when I head out, credit card in one hand and toddler hauling on the other, in search of Christmas Cheer (TM).

  30. Marcia November 26th, 2013

    I’m not a big fan of the consumerism either. I have two boys and other large family members, and I find the whole season overwhelming.

    There is so much crap in the store, and my kids get so many gifts – my house is tiny, it’s impossible! And the black friday shopping! I don’t shop.

    I have been working hard to get out of this mode. For one thing, we don’t travel to visit family. Last year for Thanksgiving, we went to Legoland in San Diego. This year for Thanksgiving and Christmas? It’s just the four of us (possibly might pick up a straggler who has no plans). I have ordered dinner from a grocery store because cooking a 4 course meal is too much work (one year, I just made a regular dinner). I’m going to go on a 4 mile walk along the beach with a friend in the morning.

    I enjoy spending time with my kids. I am working on making gifts for family (including some gifts in a jar!)

    It’s all about BUY BUY BUY. Ugh.

    My niece (who is 32) is spending her month baking lots of cookies and fudge so that she can send care packages to our military overseas. Now THAT’S Christmas!

  31. Rachel November 26th, 2013

    I find some of the things I do not like about Christmas is that we consider everyone we know to be celebrating this holiday. Some of my friends do not celebrate Christmas due to their religion and I can’t imagine their perspective on all the consumerism surrounding this holiday. The copious amount of christmas related items at every store, supermarket and other homes to be honest frightens me. The point of Christmas in my mind is to help others that are less fortunate and maybe give a small gift or two to people that you are close to. Enjoying the time with your family and friends and having fun together. We usually try to do activities together instead of buying large gifts. I will remember the fun times we spend together a lot more than a random gift I received years ago. It shocks me how people also fall for “deals” and most companies now are trying to trick us into buying more things even though we don’t need it. buy one get one 50% off? What if I only want 1 pair of shoes and not 2! And half the time the money saved doesn’t really make a big difference. Okay that was my opinion. Thanks for letting me vent!

  32. Ruth November 26th, 2013

    Thanks for this great post, Kerry. I’m with you; I’m not anti-Christmas,but I hate the utterly crass and meaningless consumerism that Christmas has been molded into by those who have seen the profits to be reaped when the public can be whipped into a 3-month buying frenzy,which is then followed by an additional month of frenzied mall activity in January. Come December 26 and lasting through January, tons of the crap purchased before December 25 is returned to the malls and traded for something else. Lots of meaning, joy, and beauty in that, yes? Rob(first responder here) has summed up my feelings about Christmas crap to a tee. And I’m also right there with Catherine,struggling “to find a quiet moment to give thanks to God, to feel the longing for God’s presence, and to know the joy of God’s coming to earth.” Walmart et al have erased Him from the season entirely. Perhaps their one concession for letting Him make an appearance manifests in the form of allowing the Salvation Army to set up a kettle in front of their stores.

  33. Pigpen November 26th, 2013

    I concur with so many of the ideas expressed here. Great post. I’ll just add an observation: am I the only one who’s noticed that none of the major women’s and family magazines (maybe men’s, too) are running articles in November and December on de-cluttering? You can’t pick up a magazine the rest of the year without some article about it. I’ve seen tons of waiting rooms cluttered with in-your-face cover stories on magazines about de-cluttering. I don’t buy into those, either. I know how to de-clutter; I just need to do it. ;-)

  34. Big Cajun Man November 26th, 2013

    At Christmas time (or Kwanza, Chanukah or December break) I am sick and tired of folks thinking that Gift Cards are a gift. Give me the frigging Cash and be DONE with it. We then both realize you didn’t feel like shopping, AND you were kind enough not to force me to shop at 1 store, I can shop wherever I want. I also don’t lose cash, I lose gift cards all the time.

    CASH that’s a real gift!

  35. Ann November 26th, 2013

    Christmas Begins on December 25, and goes until February 2. It doesn’t END on Dec 25. Most people do not realize this or remember it. Christmas things are already going on clearance and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! And, yes, I like the sappy Christmas movies :-) Yet I have to record them and fill up my system Now, before Thanksgiving, as they won’t be played during Christmas!

  36. Erica November 26th, 2013

    Thanks to stores like Walmart “Black Friday sales” start a week before. What’s the point?

  37. Jen November 26th, 2013

    I always do my shopping at non-peak times so I’m not really subjected to the craziness. Side Note: I think costco shoppers are crazy 365days/yr so maybe I’m just desensitized to christmas shoppers. :)

    It’s funny because usually I love Christmas and the whole season. I love singing along in the car to christmas music and decorating the house. Preparing for our out of town guests and planning special events with my family and friends like walking around the neighborhood to admire the lights or build snowmen in the backyard. But for some reason this year, every time I hear a christmas song on the radio, I’ve automatically switch it to another station. I don’t know what up about THIS year in particular that makes me wary of the “canned” music and cheesy decorations. So this is a perfectly timed series of blog posts —- looking forward to seeing what you write Kerry! Perhaps you can help us see past the bull$hit and uncover and embrace the beauty of what this season can offer if we let it.

    PS – I think christmas is all about what YOU make it. You can make a personal choice to hate everything about it and get all stressed out or you can choose to change your perspective a little and appreciate the good parts of the season – love, charity, unity, family, etc. Ultimately YOU are responsible for how you react to anything in your environment. Just don’t get sucked in to commercialism.

  38. Sndygirlbc November 26th, 2013

    I must admit that I am one of the worst for consumerism at this time of year. My biggest weakness is the ‘party’ packs of most anything. I think that anything that can get a family together is wonderful. Even if you only see them at this time of year, it’s a reminder of why we stay away from each other the rest of the year. I love going to our local mall the 22nd through the 24th and watch the loonies run around. I personally start shopping for next year at the after Christmas sales. I am usually done my the beginning of September (yea I know), so sitting and watching others is a pleasure. There is a loss of what Christmas once was but I think there are new ‘traditions’ being formed also. As with everything else in life, Christmas will evolve.

  39. Sonja E November 26th, 2013

    I’m not sure I have much to add here, but let me say I agree with a lot of what LouLou and Ducklady wrote. The Christmas music in stores begins way too early. I detest most all the expectations (gifts, dinner, baking, decorating etc.)that take away from what I would really like to do…which is spend time with my family when we all finally have a few days off to be together. Granted this does sometimes include cooking or baking and having a meal together, but you have to eat (not over eat on junk either)! I enjoy giving gifts, but have a very short list..most of the adults in my life get gifts when I see something I think they’ll love…don’t need Christmas to remind me to give. People seem to think they need to give bigger and better gifts each year. When does it stop? Where did the idea of gift giving come from? I have no religious connection, but I don’t think this is what Christianity had in mind when they linked Jesus’ birthday to the winter solstice. If only we could all be this thoughtful all year round. Giving year round also makes it easier for those of us who make some of the gifts we give.

  40. Levi Blackman November 26th, 2013

    I love the holidays but only because I get to spend some time with the family. I avoid the stores and all the bull. I don’t buy anything for anyone and I have to like you enough to make something for you to get anything.

    I really hate how people try to “get you in the holiday spirit” when you are not in to all the songs and buying crap.

  41. Merlin November 26th, 2013

    Everyone talks about keeping Christ in Christmas. He never WAS in Christmas. There is nothing in his Bible teachings about taking a day to celebrate his birth. In fact, the origin and many of the traditions that have been incorporated into Christmas have pagan (non-Christian) roots.

    So if people love the spirit of the season, of giving, shopping, or enjoy the break, the change of pace, or getting together with family, go ahead and enjoy it and all the consumerism that goes with it. Just don’t associate it with Jesus.

  42. Krista November 26th, 2013

    I don’t like the peer pressure. It’s like living in a twisted anti-drug commercial made by an evil incarnation of gluttony, hidden in guilt. Hard not to feel lacking.

  43. My Own Advisor November 26th, 2013

    I’m sick of hearing of Black Friday sales already….

    I’m sure I’ll be in full-on Scrooge mode come early December :)

    Great post Kerry,
    Mark

  44. Bon Bon November 26th, 2013

    They call it is the most ‘wonderful time of the year’ and yet for many (very many), it is the ‘worst time of the year’. For those that don’t have enough money to hardly purchase groceries any other day of the year, they certainly won’t have it to purchase a turkey and all of its fixings. Then add on the pressure of no Christmas tree to be decorated by the family, or presents under the tree. I stopped exchanging presents years ago and now I give to those that find this the ‘worst time of year’ and hopefully I am able to make it a little bit better. I only need what I need and I need nothing. I am so much more happier now.

  45. Michael November 26th, 2013

    What I dislike most is all the negative assholes posting how miserable Christmas time is. It is what you make it. If you choose to bitch and moan about it then you will probably be a miserable shit during it. I you choose to embrace it and be in “holiday spirits” the you will probably be in good spirits. So stop ya bitching and join in the party. Fa la la la la. La la la la

  46. Trina November 26th, 2013

    I dislike the fact that one holiday seems to run into the next, there’s no enjoyment because it’s totally in your face…
    I’m over the holiday season (now known as the Annual Consumer Holidays)already!!

  47. Lily November 27th, 2013

    Christmas crackers. Did anyone ever see a bigger letdown in a pretty package?

    Presents for adults. Unless the present is homemade, a consumable or consists of a brilliant recommended item the giftee is not aware of, I do not see the point. If we had wanted it, we probably would have gotten it for ourselves already.

    Mall shopping. Everything seems overpriced and inconvenient. Give me an hour online, and I accomplish so much more.

    Toys with batteries. Loud, expensive to feed, useless once batteries drained, and boring after the first hour of bells and whistles anyway.

    I love Christmas, but that’s because of all the beautiful traditions my family have developed over the years. Neighbourhood carolling brunch. Sponsoring a Plan foster child in lieu of gifts for adult family members. Turkey with all trimmings. Neighbourhood parents and kids shinny. Getting a real tree. Family tree decorating party. My husband’s Christmas music collection he won’t bring out until Dec 1. My mother in law’s homemade cookies box. The Candle-powered whirligig that has delighted every child who ever saw it. My daughter’s Christmas piano recital. The list goes on….

  48. Edward November 27th, 2013

    The bull$hit that bothers me most is that the big retailers have done the studies and *know* that Christmas bull$hit makes everyone crazy and pissed off and they also *know* that in a crazy, irrational state people spend more money. They design store layouts not to soothe you with Christmas music or cinnamon smells and make you feel happy, it’s the complete and total opposite. They pump in music that they’re well aware will make you feel like a lunatic, they create bottlenecks so people have to push each other to get through certain areas, they ensure commercials are too loud, they make sure any smell is overwhelming, that the lights are too bright and garish. They’ve paid lots of money to make you feel as uncomfortable and miserable. Why doesn’t anyone care that psychology is being used against us? (And why is it even legal?) In any other situation it would be called “warfare” or “brainwashing”. Intentionally keep your own people as crazy as possible so they buy junk. …And just hope not too many of them pick up guns and shoot at school kids. It’s mean, it’s underhanded, and it’s bull$hit!

  49. Krista November 27th, 2013

    Secret Santa exchanges . . . for kids. Seriously?!?!? My kids don’t need any more toys. I’ve been to your house and your kids have even bigger piles of plastic crap than mine do, so they don’t need any more either. No, I’m not buying another toy so my kid can give it to your kid. Give me a break. It feels like some kind of obstacle course this time of year, trying to keep my kids from bringing more crap into the house.

    To top if off, their school runs a “Christmas Store” activity every year which is just a big secret santa exchange, for every. single. member. of every single child’s family. Barf.

    It was so much fun explaining to my kids why they’re not allowed to participate in the Christmas Store this year. At least their teachers’ are intelligent ladies and didn’t give me any guff about it.

  50. Unawicca November 27th, 2013

    I’m a card-carrying Living History geek. We solved the problem by reverting to the middle ages- Christmas day is a religious holiday. Period. My son and I got our gifts the day Baby Jesus got his- January 6th, twelfth night. Not only does this stop all the hype, but we buy gifts at the 75% off after-holiday sales.
    (Oh, yes- Christmas sweaters and ties are given on Dec. 6, St. Nicholas’s day. So they actually get used. Spreading out the presents cuts down the overload too.)

  51. Karen November 27th, 2013

    I like to shop for my kids for christmas however i do not pay attention to any hoopla I don’t like. My kids ask for strange things example Black olives in a can in their stockings. This year we decided not to bake loads of sweets. We always go sledding or snowshoeing. Presents were more important when they were little now they like anything that has to do with hobbies or interests. If items pertaining to these activities are good deals during the christmas season we buy them otherwise we wait until a deal comes along. We don’t worry about what others are doing. What I do hate is the clean up after the big meal. All those dishes yuk! Suggestion : kids (teenagers and Adult children) give Mom a real present this year ;cook the meal AND do the dishes. Don’t wait for mothers day. Yes you sons too. Have a Happy Christmas!

  52. Marie November 27th, 2013

    When I was young, the Christmas advertising and in-mall muzak didn’t start until December 1. Now, it starts once they take down the “Back To School” displays. What happened to at least waiting until after Halloween?!

  53. Avrex Money November 27th, 2013

    Most people are great around the holidays.

    My gripe is that there are ‘some’ individuals out there, who feel Christmas IS about presents. They “need” to have a gift. Even when the resulting gift is not practical, they feel they must have that gift.

    Christmas Season. A happy time with family/friends.
    Minimalism, yes. Consumerism, no.

  54. Ajka November 28th, 2013

    The language of your posts has been deteriorating steadily. Today, you managed to squeeze in the word bulshitt 24 times (if I include the graphics). It seems to me like a rant about nothing.

    Otherwise, I agree with Debbie Moreau.

  55. Shirley Petkau November 29th, 2013

    I love your topic. We ceased doing the Christmas thing years ago. We have four grown daughters who live either overseas or other U.S. states. Since none of us need “stuff” I suggested that we each contribute to our favorite charity instead. Everyone was very relieved to opt out of the nasty chore of shopping to find the “right gift”. My husband and I also do not exchange gifts. We celebrated the season by going to Las Vegas which was only about a five hour drive. What better way to spend Christmas Day!!

    However, we have a problem this year. We recently immigrated to New Zealand. May have to resort to flying to Auckland to visit their less than impressive casino or just spend the day at the beach. Anything to escape the ridiculous holiday madness.

  56. Natalie November 30th, 2013

    The fact that Black Friday discounts are still extremely profitable for retailers, yet we think we’re getting such great deals! http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304281004579217863262940166

  57. Karen November 30th, 2013

    I have to agree with Ajka regarding the language on the posts. Repeating bull$hit so many times in a sentence doesn’t make the article appear to written by a professional and comes across more as a ranting bitch-fest rather than anything remotely serious.

    To answer your question, the fact that decorations and whatnot appear in the stores in October, right beside all the Halloween decor since that day hasn’t even passed yet, is the only thing that annoys me.

    Individuals that also get annoyed and can’t stand those that actually like the holiday also annoy me. I understand that you don’t like the holiday but realize that not everyone does and respect the fact that some people like this time of year.

  58. tracey December 1st, 2013

    The induced panic of black Friday weekend ; if you don’t buy it now you’ll never get it at a lower price. Mostly on stuff you’d never buy any other time of the year. I try to resist but the pull of the bull is very strong!

  59. Emily December 3rd, 2013

    Thanks everybody, you make me feel better about not liking this insane consumer season. I was thinking, “am I the only one this really bothers? Who’s dumb idea was it to buy all these expensive, freakin’ gifts that no one is gonna remember a month from now?” I also can’t stand the pop artists’ reworking of all the Christmas songs (okay, I like Bob and Doug McKenzie’s 12 Days, and “I Farted on Santa’s Lap” but I don’t listen to them all day).

    We’ve got an old artificial Christmas tree at work that looks pretty good when you turn the bare spot to the wall and cover it with lights. A couple of us made ornaments reflecting the staff who work here (orange pylons, teddy bears in PPE; we even thought of making little “road kills” with tire marks, but that’s takin’ it a bit too far, even for me), including some dollar store trimmings that weren’t really meant as Christmas ornaments, they just sorta work.

    My plan this year: tree, food, the next Hobbit movie, done!

  60. Ajka December 4th, 2013

    Here is a suggestion (though it will not suit everyone). For years, my SO and I donate $100 on behalf of each other to a charity of choice. We both like to donate to animal rescue groups.
    He is a person who has 2 cell phones, 2 tablets, I don’t know how many laptops, etc. He does not care about home decor (I am the opposite). I don’t consider clothing much of a gift and his height and constantly expanding girth make it rather difficult to buy clothes that fit.
    I am very particular when it comes to my preferences and I really don’t want to have to return something he had given me. So the charitable donations on behalf of each other are the perfect solution for us. We both have what we need, so this way we don’t accummulate more clutter and the animals benefit.

  61. Amber S December 4th, 2013

    What makes this time of year so stressful for some is all the bull$hit that gets tied to this holiday. If people focused more on time they can spend rather than money, it would be a much more peaceful time of year. Great post!

  62. Randy C December 4th, 2013

    I haven’t encountered any holiday crap yet. Although it may be too soon to speak since I haven’t done my grocery shopping in a few weeks. I’ll probably have bull$hit stuffed down my throat as soon as I walk through the doors.

  63. Jordan Montana December 4th, 2013

    Holiday bull$hit has been harassing me since September (those Halloween costumes make it out early!). No matter where I go, there it is, in my face, or in my ear (radio). I sound like such a Scruge. Bah humbug! Where’s summer time?!

  64. Joshua R December 4th, 2013

    It’s interesting reading some of these comment that have been left. I agree with Merlin. This holiday has had many many generations of twisting. Great post Kerry, keep up the good work!

  65. Connie December 5th, 2013

    Love the season/ Hate the retail hype! I love it because of opportunities to visit and share wonderful meals and fun with friends and relatives. My kids are grown so I don’t get swept away with the waves of parents trying desperately to find the “IT” toy. (There was a lean year when I was invited to a friends pre Christmas party that had a guest Santa and the hosts asked if we’d like to bring gifts for Santa to give to our children. This was the year that Nano-Pets were all the rage… many of the other children got Nano Pets, my daughter got the entire Little House series and a little necklace… she was not impressed at the time, even though she loved reading…she was sucked in by the gotta haves. She STILL has those books, and the Nano Pet we did get for her a few weeks later bored her within a few weeks and broke with in a month or so……
    The hype and that perennail question “have you got all your shopping done?” are the only things I dislike about the season. The chance to rest,religious celebrations (whatever they be), the get togethers, the after Christmas frugal deals on cards, wrap, decorations etc. (NEVER EVER BOXING DAY!!) are something to look forward to, rather than retail warfare!
    Kerry: I have revisited previous years’ posts to get small gift ideas and will definitely steal some ideas for crafting with kids and filling stockings with fun but frugal loot!

  66. Carrie December 7th, 2013

    Focus on shopping and the unspoken expectation that you will spend every last red cent you have to give presents to people. Don’t get me wrong, I love exchanging gifts! However, I’ve seen people buy enough presents to cover the bottom half of the tree and take up a good 50% of the living room. And then they are “finally caught up from Christmas” in March.

  67. TwoYellowDogs.Terri December 20th, 2013

    Oh, I use to LOVE Christmas time…

    I pretty much agree with all the above comments on the hates.
    1. non-stop christmas music in stores from thanksgiving on. (solution, don’t go to stores).
    2. crowds at the mall. (solution, don’t go; shop on amazon).
    3. TV commercials brainwashing the kids into wanting the crap they sell. (solution, listen to the grand kids, but only buy want I am willing to support educationally and life-skill developing). ALSO, I put put $$ each birthday and xmas into educational fund for each grandchild. They don’t get to open this present until they are ready to go to college! Hopefully by then, they will really appreciate the gift and will not be mentally damaged because I didn’t SHOWER them with STUFF in the form of gifts, gifts, gifts.
    4. “Merry Christmas” being socially unacceptable phrasing. Happy Holidays is the “IN” phrase. What is UP with that? I appreciate and respect other religious worship. I hope that my friends respect how I want to celebrate my religious believes–Merry Christmas! (and I wish my friends the appropriate “phrase” that reflect their beliefs.
    5. loosing the focus of what Christmas is.
    6. the pressure of trying to pull all the family together to e-n-j-o-y each other. (it has turned into frantic gatherings to open presents and not really BE with each other).
    (working on solutions to #5 and 6.)

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