November 15, 2012

'Tis a gift to be tinsel

Strict holiday separatists must accept that it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Christmas is the best thing to ever happen to Thanksgiving. In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, the world erupts with tinsel and good tidings. Reds and whites sneak into our coffee shops and advertisements, Macy’s sets out its window display, and Bing Crosby takes to the radio.

Yet, there are a select few who refuse to partake in the holiday cheer, claiming that it’s all a bit too premature. And all of them have the same benchmark for when it’s okay to start celebrating Christmas: after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving receives exactly ten times more attention from people refusing to celebrate Christmas early than it receives from the rest of us.

I have a few good friends who participate in this Scrooge-like holdout, and I know that there are many more like them. They’ve been lamenting, as they do every year, that nobody is respecting the Thanksgiving-Christmas watershed. I dedicate this column to them—and to you, dear reader, if you, too, voluntarily suffer from the humbugs. I’m not necessarily arguing that Christmas is better than Thanksgiving—but, really, does a bear shit in the woods?—but I do want to highlight a few problems with strict adherence to the “Thanksgiving principle.”

My first problem with the Thanksgiving principle is that it limits the celebration of both holidays. To quote the abusive headmaster from “Another Brick in the Wall” in a gastronomically appropriate way, “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” This isn’t the logic that I want to apply to my holidays. With Thanksgiving, I celebrate the very eating of meat! I don’t treat it as a gateway to pudding. And when it comes to pudding, I eat it all the time anyway. That is, I celebrate Christmas whenever possible.

My second problem is that the Thanksgiving principle severely compromises my understanding of utility. And that’s personal—it makes my degree (and its corresponding $200,000 price tag) meaningless! Often, the people who adhere to the Thanksgiving principle claim to be the biggest fans of Christmas. They love Christmas so much that they refuse to celebrate the holiday until it’s time. There’s some intuitive sense there, but does that utility function—one that shoots immediately upward from flatline at the same time every year for a small subset of people—exist for anything else? For football teams? For movies? For widgets? Even seasonal goods like hot cocoa rise with some degree of continuity or gradation. So be rational! Enjoy Christmas!

My final problem is that, in the end, we’re all actually still celebrating Christmas. There’s the rub. There’s nothing that excites a Christmas lover more than defending his or her side of the Thanksgiving issue. For example, I wrote this column, and my jimmies got so rustled from arguing against the Thanksgiving principle. And I’m sure that, as the Thanksgiving principle adherents have been reading this column, they’ve been systematically dismantling my arguments. Maybe there will even be a letter to the editor defending the Thanksgiving benchmark! All of the arguing and humbugging and feistiness bring Christmas to the fore. So even if you adhere to the Thanksgiving principle, know that you’re still doing your part to celebrate a great holiday (Christmas, obviously).

In closing, I should apologize to any of you who don’t celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving. If you couldn’t care less about either of these holidays, then more power to your winter season. Hopefully this column will give you insight into the silliness of the rest of us. At a minimum, I’ve seen newspapers used as blankets before, and the cold is something that we all have to deal with (especially if you don’t have the holidays to keep you warm!). So you might as well hold on to this issue. Merry Christmas! (Or Happy Blanketing!)

Matt Walsh is a fourth-year in the College majoring in economics and political science.