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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!