Maybe it all started with ugly Christmas sweaters. Or with cheesy inflatable Santas. Or hideously inappropriate tree ornaments. But Christmastime – at least its visible trappings and accoutrements – seems to be getting tackier.
"Christmas is such a mishmash of mixed signals and crossed wires," says culture critic Hank Stuever, a Washington Post reporter and author of Tinsel: A Search for America's Christmas Present. "It's ugly because it's kind of a disaster of colliding ideals — simplicity runs smack into commercialism. Religion crashes into the secular. That's why we tend to get so uppity and defensive about Christmas as a culture."
And perhaps why the "I'll be homely for Christmas" backlash appears to be getting more apparent. For example:
"We spend a lot of time bemoaning and worrying about the loss of simple, plain, old-fashioned Christmas," says Hank. "We go to great lengths to make our Christmases look classier and authentic and Martha Stewart-approved. This takes a lot of money — mountain cabins, fresh-cut firs, matching decor, snowfall at just the right moment in a world without climate change."
He adds, "It's much more affordable to have a tacky Christmas."
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