In reflecting on holiday time, and what it really means, it is necessary to deconstruct the possible points of view. The three perspectives of interest are the assumptions behind the question, the typical answers to the question and the author’s personal views. Because each of these reflect different values.
There are clearly assumptions being made in the phrasing of the question. The tone indicates that there is a question or crisis of meaning. Another clue regarding the assumptions are in the use of the term “holiday time”, as opposed to Christmas, or a listing of the various cultural holidays during the winter season, or another more specific approach. By referring to “holiday time”, the narrator of the question seems to be indicating that either they are questioning the meaning of the use of the term, or they are questioning the meaning of the cultural construct of holiday time. This would be indicated by what functions the holidays serve, and meaning in terms of the position it holds in society, for households and individuals.
Given the possible meanings of the question, the typical answers can be given. The typical answer regarding the meaning of the use of the term “holiday time” comes with conflicting sides. On one hand there are people who value using a non-specific word that captures all the cultural manifestations of holidays during that time, so as not to exclude anyone or any group. Another point of view is that Christmas should prevail as the dominant holiday during that time, often in relation to a Christianity based argument (Gibson, 2006). The holidays and this meaning are also reinforced through countless holiday themed films, most of which carry the theme or plot lines around family and friend togetherness. The typical answer to the second aspect of the question, or what the social construct of holiday time means, is family togetherness, but our choices during holiday time can also be interpreted as choices in who we want that togetherness with (Therkelsen & Gram, 2008). New couples, for example, can struggle over whose family to spend Christmas with, as the family not chosen may feel slighted (Therkelsen & Gram, 2008). While there are many holidays, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, or even a more secular focus on Santa Claus, a commonality is gathering together.
The personal views of the author provide a case study and insights regarding the specific meanings at an individual level. In terms of the social construct of holiday time, it means a break in the author’s routine. It provides a countdown date to when the author can breathe a sigh of relief after many very busy weeks. By focusing on the fact that the author will not have to follow this schedule during the holidays, carrying out the many duties, responsibilities and tasks, meeting deadlines, busy days and frustrations can all be made easier to bear. For the author, holiday time means rest, or at least a different set of responsibilities and a much needed break from the usual ones.
Three different approaches are taken in order to reflect on the meaning of holiday time from the perspective of the questioner, the assumed answers of broader society and the author’s personal views. In this way, the question can be answered regarding what “it really means”, which covers a broad range of opinions and values, but can be considered as a whole to answer the question. In other words, in a diverse world, to determine what the holidays mean is different to different people, but to ask what it really means is to accept that all possible answers are become part of that response.
- Gibson, J. (2006). The war on Christmas: How the liberal plot to ban the sacred Christian holiday is worse than you thought. Sentinel.
- Therkelsen, A., & Gram, M. (2008). The meaning of holiday consumption: Construction of self among mature couples. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8(2), 269-292.