The positive psychology of Christmas
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After a particularly rough day of classes, few things in life are better than relaxing to the festive croon of Michael Bublé’s voice as he sings all the holiday classics. It’s around this time of year that I begin counting down the exact number of days until Christmas Day, blasting Christmas music around the house on my laptop speakers, and nagging my housemate endlessly about the next time she plans on visiting her home in Toronto to pick up our decorations. All of this probably makes me guilty of propagating the widespread pre-Christmas consumerism rampant in early to mid-November, but I love it.
For Western society, Christmas probably marks the largest marketing event of the year. I remember heading to Fortinos a couple of weeks ago, only to find the shelves already cleared of markdown post-Halloween candy and readily stocked with ribbon-and-tinsel wreathes. When I went to the Eaton Centre that very same weekend, I found it swarmed with what must have been half the city, flocking to the mall to get their holiday shopping out of the way. This was weeks away from December, let alone Christmas.
Most widely perused streets now have their trees adorned in Christmas lights, and every coffee shop I pass by is promoting peppermint-flavoured drinks emerging to reclaim their menu space after a yearlong slumber. It’s almost as if November itself doesn’t exist: the transition from Halloween to Christmas seems to occur in the blink of an eye.
And yet, despite being a highly commercial time of the year, the thought of Christmas is usually the one thing keeping me sane in the weeks leading up to exams. There is something intrinsically happy about the preparatory Christmas atmosphere, whether it consists of curling up on the couch with a book in one hand and a steaming cup of hot cocoa in the other, dancing to Jingle Bell Rock during house cleaning and seeing the slight smiles on my housemates’ lips as they mouth the words in tandem, or even simply knowing that the gift you intend on giving someone will be absolutely perfect in letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Christmas isn’t something that has an expiration date. If there’s one thing the retail sector has done right, it’s in saying that it’s never too early for a bit of Christmas spirit. Underneath all the seasonal holiday promotions and crafty Christmas-themed ads (here’s looking at you, Coca-Cola) lies a far less tangible and far more valuable feeling, shaped by a time dedicated to our personal experiences with the people we love in the places we call home. The energy that comes with Christmas hype can and should be harnessed for motivation in getting you through the last few gruelling weeks of school, and the many social events hosted in its honour leading up to Christmas Day also serve as a reminder to take some time off for yourself, rather than working to the point of keeling over.
Winter is coming, and maybe the white walkers are coming with it, but if winter is coming, that means Christmas is too. And let’s be real: if you can handle multiple courses’ worth of exams, taking down a couple of white walkers in the meantime before Christmas gets here should be no problem at all.