[one_half]Overrated – Carmel Rafalowsky
For many people, it seems the whole calendar year leads up to Christmas. Generally considered the ultimate family-time holiday, Christmas has brought us winter classics like “Elf,” “Home Alone” and “The Grinch.” The holiday is so wholesome, you’d have to lack a heart to not enjoy it.
And yet I don’t.
I take issue with the build-up to Christmas, the month-long countdown following Thanksgiving, the endless carols, the pine tree farming and the overpowering cultural message to not only take part in the affair, but to let it consume you whole.
Most of all, I hate the nonstop advertisements for gifts and gadgets your loved ones don’t need: the quiet underlying message that love and appreciation not only can be bought, but should.
Most of my friends argue that I have the wrong idea, Christmas isn’t actually like that—I just wouldn’t know because I’m Jewish and not Christian, so my only real experience is with dreidels, donuts and miracle oil.
But people aren’t sharing photos or posts about cooking holiday dinner, or cutting down their own tree; they’re posting glamour shots in their new holiday dresses, posing by stockings, showing off elaborately-decorated trees or thanking their boyfriends for the special earrings that prove how in love they are. Even advertisements don’t address the ‘family spirit’ of the holiday, but rather the commercial pleasure of receiving a gift, and that the best way to show you care is by picking the perfect—or most expensive—gift.
The evidence speaks for itself.
Then there’s the issue of tree farming. While it does supply families with beautiful evergreens, the industry has questionable environmental impacts when one considers the effect on wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions and water and energy use, especially in our changing climate.
I like the fairy lights and general festivity of the season, but that’s where my appreciation ends. Maybe if Christmas wasn’t pushed in a thinly-veiled attempt at consumerism, or wasn’t so wasteful, I would be more receptive. But I don’t need an excuse to bake cookies, make hot cocoa or spend time with my family and loved ones.
I think Christmas, in its current form, is overrated. Maybe if the holiday season overall was more secular, I wouldn’t be so turned off. But as things stand now, I’d take latkes, sufganiyot and dreidel games over fruit cake and presents any day.
[one_half]Underrated – Birju Dhaduk
You walk out of the room, having just failed your last final of the semester. You put on your headphones and blast some wholesome Michael Bublé as you make your way to Starbucks to grab a peppermint mocha latte. You take some newspapers on your way back from the stand in Campus Center so that you can wrap your gift before you join your friends for the Secret Santa gift exchange.
That night, you all exchange gifts, finish the rest of the eggnog and watch all the Home Alone movies before leaving to go home to your families the next morning. Life is good. This is the joy that Christmas brings to most of us.
Although Christmas is primarily a religious holiday, it means something different to all of us regardless of faith.
We enjoy listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. It is always fun decorating the house or room and seeing all the other houses on the block as you drive by. There are also so many events and holiday parties that there is always something to do.
The food gets much better compared to other times of the year. There is no better feeling than finding the special cookies that magically appear in our sewing kits this time of year, we get an excuse to eat all the candy that we want for the rest of the year, there are Christmas themed specials in many of the restaurants and nothing beats Mom and Grandma’s special Christmas dinners.
We enjoy the time we get to spend with friends and family, especially those people that we don’t see very often. We love receiving presents and seeing other people’s eyes light up when they see the presents we got them. Best of all, almost everyone has that cheery Christmas spirit except for a few Grinches here and there. All we have to do is make the best of what we have.