I love Christmas as much as anyone (well, maybe not as much as actual Christians, but at least as much as the average consumer of kitsch and pop culture). The end of December is a miserable time, but lights, music, hot drinks, shopping, gifting, and vacation compensate completely for the climate. Christmas as a national holiday hearkens back to an age before technology could reliably relieve man's estate (consider the dysfunctional furnace in A Christmas Story, perhaps the greatest American film of all time, whose endless repetition on TBS is another perk of the Christmas season), so man's estate was instead relieved by a unanimous social agreement that things weren't as bad if we all sing together about being cold rather than shivering in isolation.
When I was younger, I tried to love Hannukah instead, because that seemed like a good thing to do in the circumstances, but it just never worked out. All I wanted was Christmas. This was resolved for me when I discovered that Hannukah's significance had been blown out of all proportion in order to justify Jewish participation in Christmas anyway, so I could guiltlessly skip the middleman and directly embrace Christmas. I hear the annual complaints that Christmas marginalizes minority religions in America by thrusting its commercialized Inquisition fingers into all the pockets of human existence between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but they don't faze me. What these whiners don't realize is that Christmas is around for their own good, to cheer them up in a time of cold and darkness (literal darkness, starting at about 4 pm) with its sales and free samples of Godiva chocolates and cards from estranged relatives and friends reminding you that their lives are better than yours. Maybe it's sad that we achieve national unity through consuming eggnog lattes, but this is how things are. Marginalization is impossible; Christmas is universal. If it weren't for Jesus, we'd be celebrating some pagan festival of the Magnificent Large Tree that would, coincidentally, consist of outdoor lighting, music, hot drinks, and gift-giving. Most likely, Macy's would have sales and a man dressed as a tree for children to climb while their parents took pictures. Christmas is human nature.
What I don't understand is why it has to start earlier every year. This year, for example, the lite rock station started playing Christmas music around Halloween. It will switch to all Christmas music all the time at Thanksgiving, which is when all the other radio stations will insert carols into their regular rotation. I like Christmas music, but not enough to enjoy it every hour of every day for two entire months. Even a month of 24/7 Christmas music is enough to make me want to shove the little drummer boy's head into his drum.
And what will happen to Thanksgiving if Christmas starts immediately after Halloween? Will it just be absorbed into Christmas--the pre-Christmas trial run when you can test out your recipes and your turkey baster? That would be a loss. And think of how much chocolate will have to be consumed between late October and January? A boon for the candy companies, but not for my teeth or my pancreas. No, there must be limits. Christmas excitement begins to build after Thanksgiving. That is how it should be. Starbucks should inaugurate its Christmas menu then, and retire the magical pumpkin spice latte only when autumn is truly over (as determined by the date when my Halloween pumpkin disintegrates into a rotten mess on my front stoop). Only a week before Christmas--two, at most--should require me to be subjected non-stop to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Even the Magnificent Large Tree would have wanted it this way.