Christmas should only be celebrated where there is snow on the ground. That may be a little extreme, but when it comes to celebrating Christmas, southern states seem to disproportionally favor the tacky over the tasteful. Compared to what I’ve known, a southern Christmas feels wrong.
Houses should be elaborately decorated with lights shining down every street corner — palms tangled with strings of Christmas lights do not count.
The local grocery store should not be the only place in town where it “feels like Christmas” to me and people are excessively joyful. The hot, humid Southern climate isn’t exactly appropriate for the holiday season, either. I’ve heard of having a blue Christmas and a white Christmas, but not a green one.
Beyond the inappropriate landscape, weather and out-of-place decorations, the naivety of Southern people makes me loathe celebrating Christmas here.
Even Christmas shopping in the South is an experience I could live without. It’s one thing to spend hours in lines or running around town shopping for gifts up north where everyone is cozily bundled up, toting coffee in one hand and 10 bags in another.
In the South, it is incredibly awkward to walk around overcrowded malls, hearing “Jingle Bells” playing in the background — while watching people run around frantically in tank tops and flip-flops.
And the Southern version of Christmas decorations is just as obnoxious. Northern homes are festooned with expensive, elaborate and traditionally themed adornments. Enormous Northern houses are decorated in a more natural tone with massive wreaths, miles of lights line roofs and windows, colossal Christmas trees stand illuminated in front of cathedral windows and yards are uncluttered by plastic reindeer. Southern homes are lit with tacky icicle lights, with giant blow-up Santas leaving front lawns in disarray.
In the traditional North, holiday themes create a welcoming atmosphere. There is no feeling quite like that of Christmas morning, sitting near a fireplace in a well-decorated room with a tree — trimmed to perfection — while watching the snow fall lightly outside the window.
On the other hand, the Southern Christmas experience entails decorations like ornaments and figurines of half-nude Santas on surfboards, lying on pool rafts or sipping margaritas on the beach. Southerners even dare to go as far as displaying snow globes, which are traditionally beautiful and often expensive keepsakes, that contain the remnants of melted snowmen — top hat, eyes, buttons, broom and carrot nose.
The entire essence of Christmas in the South is worlds apart from the pristine, traditional American idea of the perfect Christmas. Christmas in the South simply exemplifies the commercialization of holidays, full of kitsch and campiness. It has been stripped of its original context and purpose — leaving the spirit of giving, cheer and lightheartedness to the imagination. Southerners need to rethink their decorations, to things that are classier and more traditional.
For Southerners who have never experienced a true Christmas — snowy mornings, fireplaces, mittens, frost on the windows, colorful lights illuminating the sky — and have only seen depictions of one in A Christmas Story, I can honestly say that they are missing out on one of life’s greatest experiences.
Jennifer L. White is a junior majoring in mass communications.