The Ghost of Christmas Present
Welcome to the Trifecta of major holidays in North America when the three month-long event culminates in a feverish pitch of merry-making and revelry that shuts down most of the country for many days, with the finale being the changing from one year to the next.
Beginning about the middle of September when children across Canada and the United States of America are just heading off to their first classes in the new school year, the beginning of this culmination of several holidays begins. It's noticed when the shopping centers begin displaying their Hallowe'en candy and decorations. Oddly, in some cases there are artificial Christmas trees across the isle from Hallowe'en decorations, but those are mostly limited to big-box corporations. The Thanksgiving decorations are available about the second week on October, and many Canadians have been found to blend the two holidays with their decorations, and in some cases it's not uncommon to see pumpkin alongside bushels of coloured leaves and cut-out turkeys. The Christmas decorations practically spring off the store shelves almost immediately once Hallowe'en is done. Meanwhile, the good people across Canada do their utmost to hold off decorating very much from November 1st to the 12th. There are a select few who choose to go against the cultural norm and display premature Christmas decorations, but they are immediately shunned by their local neighbourhood and housing development committee. Once November 12th hits, however, the Christmas decorations are peppered throughout the house and neighbourhood like someone took a tinsel-gun and turned it up full volume. All this comes to a grande finale when the entire nation gets extremely intoxicated together to help forget about the year they've just barely made through, and ensure they won't remember the first part of the new one.
I sincerely wish the above paragraph was satire, but alas, it's merely just another example of how truth is stranger than fiction. The months of October, November, and December have become blended into one long continuous event of consumption, consumerism, and customs that most don't understand. And, Christmas? Oh! The chains that rattle alongside the ghostly wail of the Ghost of Christmas Present cannot be heard over the electronic hum of wireless routers. Everyone is glued to the Internet on some sort of handheld device, and barely anyone glances up. Storefronts are overladen with flash and glitter meant to cause the passerby on the sidewalk to pause, but each one has thrown away the concept of subtly in the endevour to outdo the competition, as well as, pull the masses away from their smart phones, even if only for a little bit. Each holiday shamelessly overlaps each other, with the oddity being that most people really don't mind.There is some out-cry against Christmas decorations before Remembrance Day, but no big-box store listens to the consumers and most start playing Christmas music at the beginning of November. (Many of the big corporations have their decorations out since October, with some as early as July!!)
This Trifecta of holidays (Plus the four minor ones no one mentions) plays a major role in most Canadian's lives. Having worked for over half of the year just to pay their income tax, many plunge themselves deep into debt simply to maintain a standard of acceptable participation in the various events and holidays during these three months, with much of it wasted on presentation and attempting to capture the essence of the festivities.
Gone are the carolers on the corner; no Church wants to openly offend anyone today, so Christmas carols are sung within the privacy of their private sanctuaries. The jingle bells that ring on the street corners now belong to multi-million dollar corporations that take a good percentage of the donations. Christmas parties are carefully sculpted affairs that are highly scrutinized. Flocks of would-be shoppers now stay home and do all their purchasing on a laptop. Open venues have been barricaded by road-blocks.
The Christmas lights are flashing around town, but everyone is home.
They don't know the reasons why, but they go through the actions. The Christmas concerts are attended, but the real story about why Christmas exists is lost in the message of Santa and reindeer. People give presents to each other, not because they understand what the tradition involves, but rather, because they feel obligated to do so in a commercialized society. The use of holly, ivy, an evergreen tree, wreaths, and so much more is actually pagan traditions, and yet so many hard-core Christians don't actually understand the origins. Speaking of Christmas trees, no one hunts for their tree anymore; the hardest part of finding the yearly tree is the trip to the attic.
The Ghost of Christmas Present doesn't weep as loud as the Ghost from the Past....
......that's because the ghostly past remembers. The present doesn't know any better.
The present is an echo. A mere whisper. The cold, icy chains that imprison the ghostly remains of Christmas have dragged down the true reasons why the holiday exists. Lost in the glare of the massive flat-screens and the roar of surround-sound stereos, no one cares what Christmas really means as long as their wishes came true. Insomuch, the ghostly remains of the present-day Christmas are insubstantial, selfish, and concerned mostly with outwardly perception.
This ghost is the most beautiful, and yet the ugliest version of the infamous tale of three Christmas spirits. It's outward glean hides a rotten interior, one that is tearing itself apart due to ignorance. It is bolstered by the Ghost of Christmas Past, but refuses to acknowledge the future.
"Maybe the irritated ghostly whisper of Christmas is prompted by a combination of complex discord. It claws at the constraints of consumerism and is stifled by the digital masses. The concept of faith is gone, replaced by a generation that believes everything they read on the internet. We've wrapped Christmas up in a neat box and tied a bright bow around it, but we can't remember what it's about. The empty feeling we get is an aching reminder that we should be doing something, but can't remember why." - The Ghost of Christmas Past, November 2011
The good news? There is a future.....
....what does it look like? I guess we'll have to wait.