Today's Weather


Wednesday, Novemeber 28, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 67



'All I Want for Christmas ...'

By Ed De La Garza
Daily Cougar Staff

It was a simple little question, both rhetorical and literal.

Following an upsetting visit to a Christmas tree lot, popular Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown, in the annual seasonal television special Merry
Christmas, Charlie Brown, asks: "Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?"

Kevin Harworth/The Daily Cougar

The gentle twinkle of Christmas lights in the trees brings a little holiday spirit to City Hall, deep in the heart of Houston. 

At the time it was asked, the cartoon character felt upset at the commercialization of his favorite holiday. Even Snoopy was involved in a neighborhood
competition for best decorations. The season had become more secular.

The well-meaning Charlie Brown had attempted to put some life into a school production of the Nativity. But Lucy and the cute little red-haired girl
wanted the play to be flashier. Charlie Brown feels sorry for the one remaining natural tree left in the lot, but when he brings it back to the group, they
criticize it.

It takes a younger person, one with an unnatural affinity for his security blanket, to remind his peers that the season is supposed to be spiritually based.
Everything else is just a trapping.

The group gathers 'round and makes the withering little tree beautiful. But it's not the decorations that do the trick. It's the fact that everyone finally sees
past the commercialism and gets involved.

And Christmas time is here again.

While it's an annual tradition among many households, one has to wonder if the idea behind it is still relevant. It's been more than 30 years since that
special first aired and the season is even more commercial today.

Armed with that notion, this writer set out to see what students felt Christmas was really all about. There were actually some people who didn't run and
hide from a man wearing a Santa hat and carrying a tape recorder or think it unreasonable to be asked such an odd question.

There were no blinking lights or garlands draped across doorways yet, but being asked at a time when the weather actually made it feel like Christmas
may have helped some too.

There were the obvious answers; some claimed the season was too commercial or really a ploy of companies who make a killing off the season.
Senior communication major Allyson O'Rourke said Christmas was a tool for capitalism.

In some respects, that's true. The day after Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The malls are crowded with people
hoping to find some early bargains on presents and seasonal trimmings.

"I don't like the obligation of having to go out and buy (lots) of presents. I think as time progresses, and our generation gets older I hope that we get
away from the commercialism," senior English major Jennifer Triplett said.

Some may have a jaded view of the holidays; especially when there's such a huge emphasis on the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, it's an
easy one to have. So it takes a bit of digging, but some still have a pure sense of Christmas.

"Christmas means being with family, giving and sharing," said junior psychology major Devin Hans. "It means happiness. Everybody for like one month
of the year seems to get together and be happy. It's a chance to be with your family and share and love one another."

Though it seems trite, it's that attitude that might bring out the best in people. It's the attitude that leads many to give a little more to charities and local
soup kitchens. No Christmas season would be complete without a Salvation Army collection bucket parked outside neighborhood retail outlets.

"Christmas to me used to be really magical," senior history major Julie Glasco said. "I think it can still be magical, but you have to look outside of all the
commercial trappings and actually focus on some type of community giving or else you'll miss what you used to love about it."

For some people, the season's effects are more spiritual in nature. With or without the "trappings," Christmas seems to bring out the best in people.
People may use the time to reflect, prompting some to question where they've been in the past year. But for others, that reflective period is a
much-needed break from classes.

"It has a certain feeling that comes in the air," Triplett said. "Everyone seems to be more giving and happy.

"(Some people) who are lonely that don't have a lot of family might regret the time. My mother-in-law's been married four times and divorced since.
When Christmas comes around she's like, 'I'm lonely.' Me, I have a brand-new 18-month-old baby and I've been married for two years, and then I get to
hang out with everybody and I just think it's wonderful."

Still other students might use the time to finally go back home and get to spend time with family members. It's for personal reasons that Christmas
becomes an eagerly anticipated season.

That time spent with families leads many to re-bond while they get back to traditional holiday functions, such as putting up the seasonal trimmings. The
city may go all out to trim Tranquility Park, but household decorations can be much more personal.

"Christmas means to me going home and doing all the traditional stuff that we've done for years like decorating the Christmas tree and spending time
with my family," sophomore communication major Brittany Chenevert said.

At its heart -- especially this year, when the Sept. 11 attacks left many family members scrambling to get in touch with relatives -- Christmas is about
being with those whom you hold dear.

"One of the most important thing is family," sophomore communication major Ginette Gomez said. "It's a time for families to get together who haven't
seen each other in a while."

And more than any other response, the one common denominator was family.

So what is Christmas all about?

It's not commercialism, that's for sure. Most students wanted to get away from that aspect and hoped Christmas would return to the days when
capitalism wasn't a central ingredient. It also wasn't the emphasis on blinking lights and ornaments.

It was, as Charlie Brown hoped 30 years ago, not about aluminum trees, flashy play productions or lighted doghouses. The true meaning of Christmas
was a personal one, independent of secular "trappings."

Season's greetings.

Send comments to
Advertise in The Daily Cougar
Student Publications
University of Houston
151C Communication Bldg
Houston, Texas 77204-4015

©2005, Student Publications. All rights reserved.
Permissions/Web Use Policy


Last update:

Visit The Daily Cougar