We need a new word: Excessmas

Christmas treeThe English language needs a new word, for the celebration of excess that occurs every December. I have suggested “Excessmas,” and my suggestion was published in The Wall Street Journal. Excessmas has nothing to do with Nativity because Nativity is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth — a joyful and nonmaterialistic holiday. People of all faiths can find value in separating Nativity from Excessmas.

Countdown to Excessmas

At our house, somebody saw this photo on Facebook and said, “No, not yet! It can’t be 11 weeks until Christmas.” And she was right:


Actually, when this was posted it was four months until Christmas but only 11 weeks until this outfit started showing “Christmas” movies. But if you’ll notice, this is not about Christmas. This is about selling stuff — starting October 29, which is even before Halloween.

Make no mistake: What’s being promoted here is the secular holiday Excessmas. And that’s fine, but remember: You owe these people, and the Excessmas holiday, no devotion at all. Read the original Excessmas article and I think you’ll agree.

By the way: There was an exchange about the “11 weeks” business — see below:


Reflections on a song: “Grandma”

reindeerFor out-and-out depravity, it’s hard to beat “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” It has it all, including mocking a senior citizen and making light of a tragic death. In the song, Grandma “forgot her medication” and stumbled out into the snow. She was impaired from “drinking too much eggnog.” Her surviving husband takes it all so well, “watching football, drinking beer and playing cards with Cousin Mel.”

Yet I think the greater message of the song can be positive. Nobody takes “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” seriously; no family matriarchs were actually harmed in the making of this song. Rather, the song can be taken as a total repudiation of the idea that our celebration of Christmas needs to be perfect.

Consider this quotation from the original Excessmas article:

The holiday blues are a common occurrence, partly attributed to the futile quest for a “perfect Christmas.” The food must be perfect, the fire in the fireplace must burn brightly, and there really ought to be snow falling (even though the majority of our population lives where that’s statistically rare).

And the cure? We find perfection in what’s being celebrated and not in our own activities. So we can laugh about the blue and silver candles “that would just have matched the hair in Grandma’s wig,” and forget about whether our candles perfectly match the tablecloth. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, blessed Nativity, and a pressure-free environment. Listen to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and lose the pressure!

Go big! but not for Excessmas

UntitledOne of the big-box retailers invites us to “Go Big!” this Christmas. That retailer wants us to buy big-screen TVs, which will bring in programming and ads to keep us going big and coming back to the store in the new year.

But after seeing the ad, I started thinking. What if we decided to “Go Big!” this Christmas in a different way? This would include things such as:

  • Going big in our food drives, sending off carloads of food to the food banks and food pantries
  • Going big in our Bible study, seeking out the Old Testament prophecies and New Testament gospel accounts to deepen our understanding of Christ’s first advent
  • Going big in our humility, not proclaiming our good works but taking quiet joy in the honor that it is to help and pray for our fellow men and women, inside the church family and out

Yes, at times it would mean visiting stores that tell us to Go Big! – but with a glad heart rather than an aggressive desire to beat somebody else to that great special on Black Friday. And it would mean special smiles and kind words for everyone we met along the way, from the Salvation Army volunteer by the red kettle to the harried checkout clerk facing a long line of customers.

How about it – are you up to Go Big! this Christmas?

(Contributed concurrently to http://dunkerpunks.com/2014/11/28/dunker-punks-during-the-christmas-season-go-big-in-a-different-way/)

‘Merry Excessmas’ or Meaningful Advent?

Here’s a nice mention from Harvey Yoder, Mennonite pastor and counselor:


Interesting thought from Harvey: “. . . if we are really serious about observing Christmas, we should remember that that according to the Christian calendar, most of December has never been intended be “Merry”, but a hopeful and prayerful time of waiting we call Advent. The Advent season ends with Nativity, which begins on Christmas Eve and continues for the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. So in keeping with our Christian tradition, we shouldn’t be greeting anyone with “Merry Christmas” anyway until it actually arrives, at which time we celebrate with abandonment.”

Update: Harvey’s thoughts are now reaching a wider audience at http://www.mennoworld.org/blog/2013/12/16/merry-excessmas-or-meaningful-advent/

There’s always time for (true) Christmas!

“Shorter Thanksgiving/Christmas Gap Will Impact Holiday Shopping in 2013,” says the headline on this article. The point is that with Thanksgiving coming so late in 2013, there will “only” be 26 days to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For those whose observance of Christmas centers on the religious holiday, however, that short time is no problem at all. There’s plenty of time to prepare for a joyful celebration. But yes, for those who take the holiday as a required big-spending occasion marked by excess in everything (“Excessmas”), that short time is a problem. My recommended solution for those inclined to overdo it? Call it Excessmas, let it go, and have a joyful Christmas instead!