Christmas is still just under a month away, and December has not even come knocking as of yet.
Despite this, the Christmas celebration already is in full swing.
I’ve already seen my fair share of Christmas decorations and Christmas commercials.
I’ve even heard Christmas music on the radio once or twice.
In a more meta sense, here I am, writing an article about my appreciation for Christmas in late November.
Many would say that this article is coming out-of-season.
I can understand that perspective.
We just passed Thanksgiving, and people are already hyped for Christmas as if it is already here.
We even have the 25 days of Christmas, where we celebrate each and every individual day leading up to Christmas as if it were Christmas itself.
But I would argue that there’s a reason for all this celebration.
That reason is the simple fact that Christmas means an incredible amount to an incredible amount of people, including myself.
That stretch, from around Dec. 20 to the end of Jan. 1, is my favorite time of the year.
I can’t quite describe it, but there’s a certain quietness, innocence even, surrounding those simple days.
It’s like all the trouble and hardship of the rest of life falls away, and all I’m left with is the comfort of simple life.
But that’s getting a bit ahead of myself.
To go back a bit, let me explain why I love Christmas.
Of course, there’s all the standard reasons you’ve likely heard before.
Awesome food, getting to see loved ones you don’t normally get to see, the presents, the list goes on.
All these things are unquestionably important, and they all play a huge part in just how and why so many people have come to see Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s a time of reprieve after the storm of the previous year.
You just get to relax and surround yourself with comforts.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
For me, Christmas goes a bit deeper than that.
It’s what Christmas represents, and how it impacts people, that makes it such an amazing holiday.
The issue is that this thing is a bit harder to pin down, but I’ll try my best.
For me, it’s the way in which Christmas manages to lift people’s spirits, how it manages to give people hope in a world that seems hellbent on denying it.
In essence, it’s the unfailing optimism of the season.
Everybody is cynical and pessimistic nowadays.
I can’t blame people for feeling this way, looking at the state of the world and all, but it seems as if nobody is ever really happy, or even hopeful, anymore.
Again, there are reasons to feel this way. Things are far from perfect.
I even think these feelings are valuable to have.
It is only after you realize how messed up things are that you can start the work to change anything, after all.
But it’s the constant pessimism and cynicism that worries me, as if people are finally becoming convinced that things will never get better, and that everything will always suck forever.
It’s this feeling that I think Christmas can help with, because Christmas has a way of lifting even the most dour of spirits.
If only for just a few weeks during this time of the year, it’s as if everybody’s spirit is lifted.
It’s a time of hope and optimism, and it always feels like that unrelenting optimism is able to bring us all up.
This isn’t to say that Christmas erases all hardships, or that everybody should necessarily feel happy during Christmas.
And, more soberingly, there are countless people out there who don’t have the opportunity or ability to celebrate something like Christmas.
It’s just that I’ve found that this holiday has a way of lifting people’s spirits in a way no other holiday can.
In a world of anger, mistrust and cynicism, it’s a short time where the human spirit receives some uplift.
And I don’t think that nearly enough people recognize how powerful this uplift can be, especially if you’re someone going through a hard time in your life.
So that’s why I think Christmas is so important: It lifts people’s spirits.
Sounds corny, I know, but it’s what I think.
But Christmas only tells half the story as to why I love this part of the year so much.
Once we’ve cleared Christmas, it’s on to New Year’s Eve, a strong contender for my favorite holiday.
I think there’s a sharp distinction that needs to be drawn between Christmas and New Year’s, and between the ways in which these holidays are celebrated.
New Year’s celebrations, at least in my experience, tend to be stripped-down affairs.
Christmas is sitting around the tree with your entire family unwrapping presents.
New Year’s is sitting around the television with a select few others, waiting for the ball to drop.
New Year’s is a special time of year, in that it’s a holiday that seems, at least in part, devoted to introspection.
We’ve all done it at some point, watched the ball in New York fall from its pinnacle to its base.
It’s a sight that fills me with something approaching bittersweet melancholy.
On the one hand, it’s a moment to reflect on the events of the past year, and to look ahead to what may lay in wait in the year ahead.
On the other, it’s an inescapable sign of the passage of time.
It reminds me that yet another year has gone by, that everything living on the planet is now an entire year older than they were just a short 365 days ago.
It’s a weird feeling, but it’s one that I’ve come to appreciate the worth of.
It’s a holiday that celebrates looking inward, backwards and forwards all at once.
For once, in the crazy whirlwind of life, New Year’s is a chance to genuinely reflect on who we are, where we came from and where it is that we are going to go next.
So while it may not be as flashy as Christmas, I still appreciate New Years a great deal.
Taken together, Christmas and New Year’s Eve deliver the best time of the year.