The Nightmare Before Christmas

Bisher Nasir

Ah, Christmastime. In the summer, people fondly think of the winter holidays and remember the joy, the love, and the camaraderie, missing the snow, but some say the holidays are often shoved down our throats.

Christmas is a time of joy, but it is also the most stressful time of the year, for students and adults alike. It is the month of  December when teachers assign the most schoolwork in the frantic rush to try to cram in their lessons before the highly anticipated winter break. The holidays are also hectic for adults, seeing as they have to buy presents for children, nieces, nephews, parents and other distant family members that they only see during the holidays, often taking the “Merry” out of “Merry Christmas”.

The holidays are also often rushed and too frenzied for actual enjoyment. I walked into a store one October day, feeling the fall spirit as I sipped my pumpkin spice latte, and in the “seasonal” aisle that day were, you guessed it, fat Santas, reindeer, evergreen trees, and colorful lights. Seeing this “festivity” made me look at my coffee and wonder whether I should’ve gotten a peppermint mocha before remembering that it was barely even fall. Christmas wasn’t even close to being around the corner; I was still waiting for Halloween, and even Thanksgiving seemed distant, so I couldn’t understand why the aisles were decked with boughs of holly.

The decorations in October add to the crazy vibe everyone gets, instigating the stress of the season. A possible solution to this might be presenting the Christmas-like things only after Black Friday to give people time to relax and absorb the goofiness of Halloween and the delightful family time of Thanksgiving before diving into the agitation of the winter holidays.

I remember leaving my Friendsgiving and listening to the radio in my car, and some random Christmas song started playing. It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet! And as soon as I left the mall on Black Friday,  I turned on the radio in my car and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was playing to my confusion and displeasure. I get that this song is legendary and a staple of the holiday season, but come on. Only one day had passed since Thanksgiving, and the Christmas spirit was already at its peak. I know that songs like these are only enjoyed in the wintertime, but maybe save them for only the month of December so that people could actually appreciate the music instead of being compelled to sing along to “Jingle Bells.”

And the schoolwork? It’s like the teachers are trying to suck the holiday cheer out of students. I’ve had more tests than I can count this month, and it seems like work for every class is piling up. Walking through the halls at school, one can tell that most are in a glum mood. From the PSAT scores (which aren’t supposed to be a big deal) to early decisions for college (it really hurts getting rejected) to Keystones (come on, do you think now is a good time for standardized testing?), to trivial things like a pop quiz or a music concert, the tension is filling the school to the brim. The stress of high schoolers like us intermingling with the frustration of parents trying to buy gifts for everyone and set up the house for a Christmas party can often lead to a breaking point that is oh-so-not-merry.

The holidays are supposed to be a time to relax, unwind, and celebrate with friends and family, a time to be cheerful and grateful for a successful year. Instead, we are often pushed over the edge with the significant need to satisfy everyone’s desires for gifts and over-the-top schoolwork combined with early decorations and Christmas music (believe it or not, there are some people who don’t like Christmas) that make the holiday season seem like a nervous breakdown. We need to slow down and enjoy this cheerful time of the year, not have it forced in our faces and soiled by our anxiety. Stores need to go easy with the whole Christmas vibe, layering it slowly instead of suddenly switching from witches to Santa. Meanwhile, teachers should lay off on the workload. Students need this time to cool off and enjoy themselves. And adults, if you are hosting a Christmas party or simply buying presents, relax. Go shopping early to get everything finished, and then you can plan the party, clean the house, and decorate. I know it isn’t easy for everyone, but if we try a little to let go of the tension, we might actually find ourselves enjoying this time of the year.