Like all decent Americans, I find the commercialism and tawdriness of the Christmas season to be occasionally tiresome. The cringe-worthy outfits that service industry workers are forced to wear, the bad music (although Handel almost makes up for that), the feigned cheer--all can be wearying.  And yet, writing these words, I can't help but feel a tinge of embarrassment; it's just too easy to complain about such things.

All of which leads us to Simon Doonan's brilliant op-ed in today's Times. The ostensible purpose of Doonan's piece is to explain to readers that no, the holiday season does not in fact start earlier and earlier every year. But what Doonan is really interested in, and rightly so, is telling people who spend the entire month of December carping to get over it.

Fortunately for all concerned, this bout of ultimate fighting need never take place, because the spiritual and commercial aspects of the holidays are not mutually exclusive.

And that please-don’t-tell-me-it’s-tinsel-time moment only serves to reconcile the two forces. It allows each of those sidewalk critics to indulge in a Tiny Tim fantasy: for that particular moment, he or she is the only person on earth who grasps the true meaning of this highly commercialized holiday. And then, once that therapeutic hissy fit has dissipated, these good citizens are free to shop their brains out. It’s their way of having their Christmas cake and eating it, too. [Italics Mine]

Amen. I had a similar realization at a local coffee shop recently, where the over-the-top decorations were in every way less bothersome than the couple sitting to my right and complaining about them--and what they "meant" about our society. Enough already, I say!

Anyway, read Doonan--and Merry Christmas.

--Isaac Chotiner