Jeff Pearlman

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Why I hate Christmas, by Joan Pearlman …

huntingsanta1

Growing up in Mahopac, N.Y. in the late 1970s and early-to-mid ’80s, I was taught by my mother to loathe Christmas. While my dad was more than content to gaze happily at the lights and listen to Jingle Bell Rock on the Olympic Diner jukebox, Mom slammed the whole thing as one big scam. She detested the commercialization, loathed the be-happy-or-die outlook, slogged through the Jefferson Valley Mall with an angry growl. Hence, I decided to ask my mother, Joan Pearlman, to write an essay for jeffpearlman.com on her beef with St. Nick.

Thanks, Mom …

Unlike the majority of Americans, Christmas has never been one of my favorite holidays. Granted, one of the reasons is that I don’t celebrate it. Unfortunately, many people have a difficult time understanding that. As a child, Christmas never affected me one way or the other—we sang Christmas carols and songs at school, visited Santa at Macy’s and went on our merry way! However, as an adult residing in the Christmas-oriented town of Mahopac, N.Y., I came to realize that I was definitely a so-called outsider. My co-workers could not fathom that I did not celebrate Christmas, and even felt sorry for me. They would talk to me about celebrating “your holiday”, and how it directly compared to theirs! How does one rightly explain that Chanukah cannot compare to Christmas in any way?

When my children were young, residing in this neighborhood, attending local schools, being with friends who all celebrated Christmas was extremely difficult. Why couldn’t they have a Christmas tree, receive oodles of gifts, and look forward to the “happiest time of the year?” Why must we be exposed to dreaded Christmas music for months at a time—Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year? Why do stores and malls decorate for Christmas as early as September?

As a professional who worked with the disadvantaged and disenfranchised for many years, the Christmas phenomenon reared its ugly head in disconcerting ways. People who are marginally adjusted—i.e. mental illness, alcohol/substance abuse, homeless, etc.—have an especially difficult time. Those who are financially strapped frequently become more so, family relationships are put to the test. Expectations are high, as are the disappointments that follow.

My solution: Pass through Christmas as quickly as possible and celebrate the new year with gusto!

  • Steve H

    I couldn’t agree more with your mother!

    The commercialization of the holiday has made it unbearable.

    I’m not Catholic, I don’t believe in God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and anyone else that is celebrated on the holiday, and I long ago stopped believing in Santa.

    I really could do without Christmas.

    Hell, my kids pretty much get whatever they want all year long, why should we have an extra day to shower them with gifts?

  • Greg Kupperman

    Well said,
    One of my more memorable Christmas’ was when I learned how to play dradle and we spent most of the night doing that.
    Happy Santa hunting!

  • http://www.nationofwimps.com Hara

    Jeff: Your mom’s got it right. One of the very worst things about Christmas is today, Black Friday, a day when people trample each other to unleash whatever pent-up consumerist dreams they have had to restrain the rest of the year. As if that will somehow make them happy (whatever else, they’ve bought the hype). And some cosmic alarm clock goes off cueing every space that harbors more than one person to start up the treacly music, which plays on an endless loop. I find it offensive to have Christmas hijack the culture for two months and to have it so inescapably imposed on me. I want December back!!!

  • Mia

    Even though I completely despise Christmas I will not pour my hatred about it to my children. Instead I’ve taken another route. My children do not get inundated with gifts. Yes, they get a few. I spend maybe about sixty bucks each and that’s it. I’m a single mother so my children know I cannot afford the lastest laptop or ipod or Wii or whatever. Even if I could they wouldn’t get it. Instead we bake and cook for our neighbours, school and community but we are nameless. I want them to understand the gift of giving without getting or expecting. That blesses me! Yes I hate Christmas and for years I couldn’t figure out why until my mother told me about a year ago that when I was a child it was Christmas Day that my father walked out on us never to return. So on top of the hatred of commercialism, greed and chaos my cowardly father left that precious day when I was little. But I am truly blessed by health and loving great children and for that I am thankful!

  • http://www.jesus-bc.org Wallace White

    For Christians who have had enough of Christmas, there is a new option. The Jesus Birth Celebration Movement advances the date of Sept. 29 as a probable date for the birth of Jesus, and has established a movement to invite Christians to move away from the Dec. 25 celebration. http://www.jesus-bc.org gives the full story for those who are ready for something more realistic. And those who adopt the Sept. 29 celebration can do whatever they wish with the winter holiday which pretends to be a Christian holiday.

  • John Morris

    That picture is brilliant! Well said.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life