Some neighborhoods are so outlandishly lit up, they attract visitors from around the county in what could only be described as a “drive by gawking”. People use their seasonal notoriety to collect food for the poor, and ask that if you do drive by, leave some food in the bins provided.
I have lived in Seattle now for 14 years, after following my girlfriend (now my wife) back to her home here on the North West coast. If you can get past the (in your face) commercialism of Christmas, what is underneath this façade is a very comforting reaffirmation of family life. Americans are a very generous people and would think nothing of inviting you into their family to share their celebration. I keep mentioning Christmas, but of course it does not really exist anymore. Instead, we have time off from work for “the Holiday”. Cards don’t even mention Christmas. “Have a happy Holiday” or “Holiday Greetings” are more the norm. I might have missed something here, but did Christ get caught doing something naughty to have him removed from view?
The truth is, there are many religions, including the pagans who lay claim to this date, and they all must be given equal status in this country. While this is a laudable sentiment, I still feel a bit ambiguous greeting people with a “Ho Ho Ho, have a happy Holiday”
Shopping is a national pastime in the USA anyway, but around Christmas, it becomes frantic. Caffeine charged consumers in Seattle are buying everything that isn’t tied down. Folks used to wait until after Thansgiving before the rush started, but not anymore. We are all jumping the gun to get that extra special person the gift of their dreams. Several years ago, sickened by the amount of presents my new family bought each other, my wife and I resolved to make everything instead. Our workshop was turned into Santa Inc. and the production line was in full swing producing baskets, soaps, oils and ointments, chutneys and pickles, and all sorts of arty crafty ornaments and jewelry. One week before Christmas, we realised that most of the stuff would not be of much interest to the intended recipients, so we made a last minute attempt to buy stuff too. The outcome of our efforts resulted in two exhausted crafters and a depleted bank account.
The moral of this story is to just go with the flow.