Life in America

Remembering the Holiday Season

In the USA, no time of the year is more joyful and cheerful like the Holiday Season. It is the time of the year when you see the decoration everywhere; on the streets, sidewalks, inside the houses, outside the houses, shops, malls and even offices. And if the street lamps decoration and ornaments on the trees are not enough to make one feels cheerful, Americans at this time of the year are more lively and buoyant. Even when you don’t see them smiling you feel them beaming with joy.

To my dismay, November and December (aka the Holiday Season) were my nightmare. I feel homesick to my stomach during these two months. Enduring these two months was painful. I believe our brains don’t register happy moments unless we are sharing them with people we love.

In these two months, the entire country transforms itself from the inside and the outside. It is like the state of Muslims you see in the Middle East one month before Ramadan and during the month of Ramadan. It is as if all their emotions are kept inside a jar during the entire year and vented out only during these two months. Either in the USA during the holiday season or in the Muslim world during Ramadan people become more cheerful and more generous but also more anxious. Some become happier, others become sadder.

Here are the reasons why Americans transform during the Holiday Season:

Halloween

My state of loneliness and homesickness starts actually in mid October when people start talking about the Halloween preparation. Parents talk about what their children want to dress up as and how scary they want their house to look. It is a beautiful and an enjoyable day for both the parents and their children. I always wanted to go out to take pictures of the kids, dressed up in their fantasy beautiful costumes, knocking on doors shouting “trek or treat” with the biggest smile they can give in hope for more treats in return. But of course in America as a single man you learn that this is a NO-NO.

Thanksgiving

The fourth Thursday of November is the day chosen to celebrate the Thanksgiving every year. Last Thursday, Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving Day. There is no day like the Thanksgiving that you see more Americans get together. Since it is not a Christian holiday, most Americans celebrate this day regardless of their background.

Almost, all Americans travel back home to celebrate this day with their families. Most of the Thanksgiving dinners I have been to were at my Chinese academic adviser’s. Usually, I am the only non-Chinese speaking among thirteen or so person. So, being at home would be more fun for me but I go just for sake that everyone in our lab is there (all my colleagues were Chinese).

Some years my Thanksgiving Day would be at home alone watching TV.

Black Friday

Every culture has its beauty. But no culture is without blemishes. In my opinion, Black Friday is one of the USA’s blemishes. I don’t like it and I don’t appreciate that people leave the most precious moment of the year, being with their families, for the sake of buying a cheaper big screen. But, this is not the only reason I don’t like Black Friday. No day in the year is anti-giving like Black Friday. On Thursday, the day of The Thanksgiving, Americans get together to be thankful for what they become and for what they have also. But, on Friday they drift into the evil of have-more. I see Black Friday as the opposite of the Thanksgiving Day.

As businesses compete to offer more and better deals, the greed in some people gets the worse of them. Ten years ago, people used to leave their homes just before midnight to wait in front of the stores before they open. Now, people started lining up by 6 pm on Thursday evening, missing the one day in the year get-together-all-family dinner.

Every year, people are beaten and in some cases even die when the store opens its door and customers start their stampede. I am not sure that standing 9 to 12 hours in a below zero temperature worth getting a better offer on an electronic device.

Christmas

This is for sure the best time of the year for the majority of Americans. Starting from November, the cities decorate their streets and people decorate their houses. People even brag about who decorated the outside of their house better. Indeed, American cities become very beautiful in December more than any other month.

What I like about Christmas is the festivity spirit. You start seeing the more cheerful faces on November. People also start donating more beginning of November. People start donating early to give poor families enough time to buy gifts to their children and prepare for the Christmas.

DSCF2284
Christmas stockings to swap gifts at my work.

New Year’s Eve

While the Thanksgiving and the Christmas are about giving and sharing, the New Year Eve is more about ‘ME.’ In December, Americans start full throttle preparing their New Year resolutions. It is known that the Gyms memberships boost because of people’s New Year’s Resolutions.

With all these lively events no wonder it is called the Holiday Season.  But, since I celebrate none of these holidays I figured my place is not there. I sensed that I don’t belong there.

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas!

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14 thoughts on “Remembering the Holiday Season

  1. As far as Black Friday, I don’t even like shopping in stores on regular days. I have anxiety issues and crowds make me very tense. I even get tense when I’m looking at something and another shopper stands next to me and starts looking at the same thing. It’s like my personal space is being invaded. I try to do my shopping online whenever possible.

    The holidays are a tricky thing for me. I don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving with my relatives. They’re okay in small doses, if you know what I mean. I live with my mother and grandmother. My mother and I are best friends but my grandmother and I do not get alone. (At all.) She and my mother usually go to my uncle’s house for a few days during Thanksgiving and Christmas and I stay home. That should make me sad (it does a little because I miss my mom) but mostly I am just so happy that I can be stress free, even if it’s just for one night. I do wish I had my own family (husband and children) so we could start making our own holiday memories.

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    1. Tina- Hurrah for online shopping. I wish clothes and shoe sizes are standardizes. How come shoe size 9.5 doesn’t fit all the time.

      “They’re okay in small doses” hahahah… Yes, very true 🙂 Sometimes relatives are annoying.

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    1. Hahaha, Susanne. I’m more about family (the people you love) rather than relatives (people you happen to be related to). My mother was even telling me tonight that she wants me to try and interact with my relatives. I can’t help it. I just find them loud, obnoxious and judgmental. (Well, I’m judgmental too so I can’t fault them for that. 😛 ) I’d rather just be close with my “circle” (parents, brothers, nieces and my great nephew).

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      1. I’m glad that you don’t mind if I do. I like letting my friends read your stuff especially certain cultural things.

        If there is ever one you would rather keep private, let me know! 🙂

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  2. Christmas is also a time of increased suicides as more people are depressed because they do not live the artificial fairy tale life everyone tries to pretend to have

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