The Dryden Observer

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Christmas is a state of mind

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

It seems that every year, my own fragile pysche sets the scene of some internal ‘Dickensian’ drama around the spirit of Christmas.

At times, I flail as though drowning in the complex interplay of family and society’s expectations of a man and a head of household at this time of year — expectations that in the end, always turn out to be nobody’s but my own.

I rage, rage, rage against the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas CD, an entrenched part of my wife’s Christmas ritual, which finds its way onto the family iPod each November.

From the first Christmas commercials — that hit the air at 12:01 p.m. on Remembrance Day, through the insanity of the industry-contrived ‘Black Friday’ shopping holiday and finally one’s descent into the madness of the Christmas shopping experience — the pressure to spend beyond one’s means is no longer a subtle gesture from the retail industry. It seems as though it is considered the responsibility of all to spur this beleagured economy through difficult times.

Bah humbug!

There are a lot of sick and twisted notions that tack themselves to a beautiful thing called Christmas. They pile up in your arms like a swaying stack of presents and add to the stress of year-end in the workplace — an experience that for me, culminates in the hair-pulling experience of producing two newspapers with 48 hours of each other (without the aid of elves or a wire service).

For some reason, we can be harder on ourselves at this time of year than in any other, more emotionally isolated from our loved ones than ever before. On this day of publication, marking the longest, blackest night of the year, we need each other more than ever.

Every year I need help separating the Christmas used in holiday marketing to open my wallet from the Christmas that is in my heart.

I have a head start this year, thanks to my daughter, Eloise.

The experience of parenting a 19 month-old toddler has led to a personal renewal of Christmas spirit in myself as I discover a new role in shaping her earliest Christmas memories and watching her absorb the customs and rituals of the season in a way she wasn’t able to as an infant. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a lot of fun from here on out.

So this Christmas, I urge you to take a deep breath, replace the pressure and self-imposed expectations with a sense of peace. Say a prayer of thanks for the people around you. Turn off the TV, walk away from Facebook if you can, and just be present in the place you are.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Chris Marchand


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