I like Christmas. I really do. But when you’re at a conference, a little Christmas goes a long way.
Thursday night I found myself at a reception in the obligatory open atrium space at one of those colossal hotel-conference complexes. I was having a perfectly pleasant time, chatting with other attendees, when suddenly there was a blast of music, strobe lights, and fog machine effects, and some kind of Christmas-themed program starting playing, at bellowing volume, over the sound system. I think it may have been called “A Christmas Wish,” or something along those lines, and it seemed to involve a boy beseeching his Grinch-like grandfather to do something for the holidays. People who love The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies no doubt would have appreciated its saccharine sappiness. Me? I found the kid’s voice incredibly annoying as I was trying to carry on a conversation, and I sympathized with the beleaguered granddad who had to put up with the irritating rugrat.
Eventually the program ended, and everyone at the reception breathed a sigh of relief at the very welcome silence. Before we knew it, however, the program started again, and we realized with grim despair that it apparently was going to be broadcast every half hour. I wasn’t the only attendee who then decided that it was time to exit the reception and get as far away from the imploring kid’s voice as possible.
Lights, trees, other festive decorations, and a little Christmas music in the background are just fine. But forced exposure to some maudlin tale that is supposed to illustrate “the meaning of Christmas” is where I draw the line.