Hot takes on the holiday season
What are we really celebrating?
By: jimmy cooper
The holiday season in America means that every business, billboard, and coffee cup, is advertising the holidays promoted by our culture at large : Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and New Year’s. Although many families look forward to the holidays, it is important to be conscious of where they come from.
Thanksgiving is rooted in colonial history to the point where most people believe it’s celebrating a melting pot dream of indigenous aid to white settlers, but the reality is that settlers invaded a Pequot festival and murdered 700 indigenous people. Christmas is a synthesis of European pagan traditions and their subsequent conversion to suit Christian needs. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are overt celebrations of consumerism that are neck and neck with the capitalization of New Year’s. Whatever your feelings on God, white people ruining the lives of people of color, and the ball drop, it’s hard to deny that the holidays have become little more than celebrations of a modernized, consumer-centric American Dream. Thanksgiving is barely a break, what with Black Friday deals encroaching on Thursday night football. Christmas is now more about what you can buy than who you love. And New Year’s has become little more than an advertising firm’s dream—if you make people feel bad about themselves, you can sell them anything in the name of reinvention.
This, in short, is depressing. If even our celebrations are falsified in the name of pushing a consumerist agenda, what does that say about us and our values? If we are lying about our history to manufacture a white supremacist daydream, what does that make us if we participate? The first step is being aware. This isn’t a white guilt “woe is us for being awful” rant because that’s not productive for anyone. Instead, I’d like this to be a call to action. Take the time to question the origins of these holidays and you will recognize that Thanksgiving is fake, Christmas is stolen, the New Year’s self-loathing schtick is false, and they have all been devalued in the name of commercial gain and capitalism.
As Dom McLennon from Brockhampton tweeted, “fuck the colonizers but enjoy that family time.” Whether that be your biological family, your chosen family, or you and your cat, you’re allowed to take time away from agendas, work, and the high-tension world we live in. This doesn’t have to be sitting down to an elaborate dinner or exchanging gifts, but perhaps the best way to subvert these histories and principles is in taking the time for love instead of spending money, resting instead of working, creating art and joy instead of feeding into the machine. And maybe it sounds like an idealist fantasy; however, it remains possible to live outside the structures created for us. Say fuck the colonizers (the bosses, the CEOs, “the man,” Donald Trump, what have you. Don’t buy into the things we’re internalizing,but let’s make reconstructing these narratives emotionally rewarding, whatever that means for you. If gifts feel right to you, give your friends and family gifts. Make something for someone—even if it’s just a greeting card.
Don’t give your energy to the talking heads telling you that you need more things or that you need your biological family, even if they’re toxic. This is a time steeped in a lot of dangerous talk, and it can be emotionally damaging to internalize the idea that fulfillment comes from the hottest new deal rather than your own intrinsic value and those that you love.
But if you do choose to celebrate the holidays this season, it can be a wonderful time to recharge and rejuvenate, whether it’s through the connections shared with friends and family or just by binge watching The Good Place and Brooklyn-99!