Today my fellow Pelican Book Group author Susan Diane Johnson is here talking about Christmas and the commercial direction it’s taken. Welcome, Susan!
Winter Wonder Land
By Susan Diane Johnson
Though I’m not a fan of the commercialization of Christmas, I do adore the idea of Santa Claus. In fact, for years I would decorate my front door with a life-sized poster of Santa drinking a bottle of Coke. You know what the Coca Cola Santa looks like, right?
Santa is, in fact, the inspiration behind the very first story I ever wrote. There were just two things I could never reconcile in my seven-year old mind. Santa as a “jolly old elf”, and Santa going up and down a chimney.
Why did stories, songs, and books refer to a grown man as an elf? Aren’t elves tiny? I remember seeing Santa plenty of times when I was growing up, and even then I knew he was no elf. Maybe he only turned in to one when he had to go up and down the chimney. After all, how did a man the size of Santa fit in the chimney? What if he got stuck? And what about the kids who didn’t have a chimney?
Those were the things I wondered about when I was a child.
As an adult, I wonder why the stores start displaying Christmas items in August. Yes. August. In the Wal-Mart in my town, they had Christmas ornaments and fake trees for sale in August.
I wonder why my Christian radio station starts playing Christmas music on Halloween and won’t play anything else until New Year’s Day. I’ll never get tired of O Come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, or Hark the Herald Angels Sing. But if I never hear certain songs again, like Carol of the Bells (not to be confused with Silver Bells) and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, it will be way too soon. And that’s because, spending approximately an hour a day commuting to and from work, I’d hear each of those songs at least three times. Go on a day trip, and you could hear them twelve times each! It’s too much. I know I sound like a Scrooge, but after listening to this station for fifteen Christmases in a row, I’m so burned out on Christmas songs, I can’t even turn on my Christian radio station. So since I love music and can’t drive without listening to it, I’ve been listening to the radio station I listened to as a teenager. And yes, they’re playing the same songs I listened to way back then.
Another thing I wonder about is “black Friday”. Why do people trample over each other to get bargains at five am in the morning? Don’t they realize if they wait a week or two things will still be on sale? And why do they feel the pressure to spend themselves into oblivion?
This year, when we were coming back from my aunt’s house on Thanksgiving, we drove past the mall and the parking lots were jammed. On Thanksgiving!
People have been talking about holiday stress and slowing down for years. They’ve been talking about Jesus being “the reason for the season”. They’ve talked about simplifying things, but things are more chaotic and we’re more bombarded with more Christmas advertising and dumber jingles than ever before.
It breaks my heart that, as a culture, we feel we have to go into debt to make other people happy. Do the gifts really make them happy, or do they just satisfy a need to get more stuff? Years later, will they really remember which cell phone or which video game they received? Will they really care?
My friend took her mother and her daughter to Tacoma for a few days. They’re going to stay in a hotel and take the little girl to see a live performance of “How to Train Your Dragon.” Then they’ll go to some museums and maybe to the zoo. This is the way they chose to spend their Christmas money.
Which of these would a child remember more: The year Christmas was spent doing something special with Grandma? Or the year of chaos when their parents braved the malls to buy everything on their Christmas list?
Are you turning into a Scrooge like me, where you don’t care to step foot in a mall and can’t stand to hear another Christmas advertisement on television? Do you have a way to make Christmas simpler and more memorable?
Susan Diane Johnson’s debut novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. You can visit her at the following places:
Amy Welsh knew when she came back to the small Washington town of Goose Bay she’d eventually run into her high school sweetheart—the one who broke her heart seventeen years ago. Only Quentin Macmillan isn’t the boy she remembered. He could potentially be everything she’s ever dreamed of. But remembering the past reminds Amy that she and Quentin aren’t a pair of teenagers in the bloom of first love. Letting him into her life resurfaces all the hurt she’s tried to ignore. Forgiveness isn’t as simple—or easy—as it sounds, especially after Quentin and Amy discover his teenage daughter has been manipulating their feelings. If Amy can open her heart to healing, she’ll find the future God prepared for her.
No Substitute is available from Pelican Book Group.