Manufactured Hope

Happy Holidays! Wait…too soon? You mean you aren’t in the holiday spirit mere weeks after Halloween?

It seems, however, that if you aren’t, there are plenty of people who are. Christmas creep is real—and it feels like it is out in full force this year. Instagram posts of Christmas decorations were up the first week of November; stores have had their displays ready to go for days; and the world of advertising is already pointing those cheerful heartfelt ads to your devices.

            We all know that every year it seems to sneak up earlier, hit harder, and push commercialism as hard as possible—but, instead of complaints, this time it seems people are embracing the early holiday season. Maybe all the years of “All I Want for Christmas is You” have finally gotten to us, and our culture is just admitting we’re willing to yield to corporate messaging. Or, perhaps, the holiday season is the one time of the year we are given permission to feel hopeful.

            Now, hear me out. I’m going into some big brain thinking territory with this, but what if the embrace of early Christmas isn’t a reflection of the amount of effort and energy spent on holiday consumerism, but instead reflects how we want to feel? Hope, joy, love, cheer, merry, peace, unity—all of these things have become so distant from our day-to-day headlines, news articles, and feelings. So distant, in fact, that we’re jumping on board to manufacture them in any way possible—and what better way than through the spirit of the holiday season?

            That said, what about Thanksgiving? Shouldn’t we be getting ready for that? Well, yes and no—Thanksgiving has now become rolled into the “holiday season” as a pre-Christmas. Is everyone on board with this idea? Not a chance—but when someone sees another person do it, they feel like they have permission to jump on board the early holiday season. It’s a type of cultural bandwagoning where we’re not identifying and buying into trends en masse; instead, we’re identifying and buying into traditions and cultural exchanges.

            Scandinavian style Christmas, American style Christmas, Christmas dinner with Arabic spices, everything is getting culturally melded together, because we see someone else do it and decide to join in.

            So, when you have a mass of people who are trying to fit in everything during the upcoming holidays, plus mainstream culture that is grabbing onto anything they can find that embodies hope, and add permission from brands (and other consumers) to dive head first into Christmas mere hours after snuffing the candle on the jack-o-lantern, you arrive headlong at Christmas in November.

            You can’t blame people for wanting distractions—or for wanting to squeeze in as many holiday experiences in a season as they can. However, we, as a consumer culture, may have to start identifying boundaries among traditions. Otherwise, we’re all going to end up trick-or-treating for Christmas presents.