Negative aspects of holiday season clash with beneficial times spent with family

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Graphic by David Solinsky / The Flat Hat

Families all around the globe celebrate religious beliefs around the holidays differently, and those who aren’t religious often have their own special holiday customs and traditions. Either way, each is a gathering of loved ones to spend quality time in one another’s embrace.  

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the holiday season. My viewpoints tend to skew toward the more pessimistic side and during the holidays all I can think about is rising suicide rates, dangerous road conditions and the thousands of people and animals left out on the street in the harsh, frigid temperatures of winter. 

Additionally, those in the working class have a more difficult time during the holidays. The enormous stress of having to provide gifts for others can seem like a heavy black cloud that darkens the festivity of the holiday season. December and January are the two months when mass layoffs happen the most as budgets flip over for the new year, which — in accordance with having to satisfy the materialistic mind of the population — causes incredible amounts of unnecessary anxiety.  

Many people decide to remain oblivious to this realistic view of the holidays in favor of the picturesque Hallmark card ideal. Others decide to pay it forward by donating their time or money to aid others. I think finding a sense of balance between harsh reality and complete ignorance through helping the community is key to creating a productive and joyful holiday season.  

The winters in Connecticut are much colder than those in Virginia, where I’ve come to attend the College of William and Mary, and occasionally a soft flurry of snow graces Christmas morning. It creates a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere that truly washes away all grouchiness.  

My family traditions help me find the happiness in the cold clutches of winter. While we may not put the Christmas tree up Nov. 1, the day after Thanksgiving we set out on an expedition to find the tree with most personality. That’s right: personality. Each tree boasts a different kind of attitude and whichever one stands out earns their rightful place in our living room. Once the tree is adorned with soft, twinkling lights and various ornaments collected over the course of years, we gather around the fireplace to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  

Sitting there amidst my family and precious dogs I understand why so many people look forward to the holidays. It forces us to take a step away from the cyclic lifestyle of work, rest and repeat. We are forced to spend quality time with other people whom we love and that is the true magic of the holiday season.  

Email Georgia Thoms  at gthoms@email.wm.edu.