Dark Side Of American Holidays English Language Essay

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Holiday is a time of joy, time to get family and the loved ones together to enjoy your time and have fun. People in every culture and nation celebrate holidays. The word holiday means holy day, even though most of the American holidays are not religious. As the American culture is rich with the aspects and features of many diverse cultures, we can trace the origins of those holidays to different ethnic regions. Generation after generation those holidays rewrite and change their features, attributes, forms of celebration; they adopt a unique American flavor. When we mention Christmas or Thanksgiving or any other popular holiday in The United States, most of the Americans associate them with happiness and fun, but not everyone. Most of us hardly ever think about how hard some people's lives get owing to the holidays, owing to all the following events and owing to us. Sometimes the reasons are purely psychological, financial or something else, unrelated to others, but fact is fact, some people feel miserable when most of the world celebrates and enjoys their happiest days. It's the holiday season which fills some with anticipation and excitement and others with dread. Therapists report an increase in substance abuse, domestic violence, seasonal affective disorder, and stress related to the holidays (Post).

December is probably the most important part of the year in the United States, because Christmas and New Year's Eve are most widely celebrated holidays. Preparation starts a month before and many people even start buying Christmas presents in November. Consequently, this is the most anxious period for many. As the shopping season starts, the tension goes up, crowd goes crazy, kids become annoying, bordering obnoxious, crying their eyes out in the malls until they bring their parents to the edge, where there is no other option but to buy the latest model of the costly toy just to shut them up. This frenzy reaches its peak, when the mall announces a big sales day. There is no chance you can buy a decent item on that day. Desperate Americans will scout the area to get the season's best prices days before to get them as soon as the mall is opened. There are mile long queues hours before the opening hour. And when it is open, shopping onslaught begins. What's worse, everyone suddenly decides, you are Oprah or Ellen, desperately craving to listen to their lifetime stories, thoughts and secrets. And there you are standing, "constantly torn between killing yourself and killing everyone around you…" (Green, Levithan). Sometimes I seriously think that's where most of the terrorists and psychos get their violent ideas. That's why Grinch makes sense to me every time I watch the movie. He might be mean, but he does have a point when he says: "That's what it's all about right? That's what it's always been about! Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts! The avarice never ends! 'I want golf clubs!' 'I want diamonds!' 'I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored, and send it away to make glue!' I don't wanna make waves here, but this whole Christmas season is Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" (IMDb)

Brace yourselves, obnoxious Christmas movies and songs are coming. No doubt, everybody loved "A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol" when they watched them, but let's face it, how many times can you watch them over and over again? You must be lucky to find something else on TV and if you do, I bet it will be some horrible show bringing suicidal thoughts to your mind. Hollywood has already sorted out what the "perfect" holiday should be like, with a number of films lined up for you. Year after year you get this sick feeling that nothing has changed. You are stuck in the same dim world as it was a year before, or two years before, or three. You cannot escape this feeling of stagnation.

Extended family - the most painful topic for many Americans. You're going to have to see people you would just as soon try to avoid. For some, it is real fun to meet their cousins, aunts, uncles; to have dinner and share their secrets, memories, but for some it is just another headache, full of awkward situations, revived old arguments and phony conversations. Many people would rather die alone in a hole than to be dragged to a table corner, with a hand on your neck, listening to the boring blabber for three hours. People have different expectations. Most of the housewives want everything to be perfect. How many guests are coming? What should I cook? Is anyone unexpected coming? Can we afford it? This is the incomplete list of the questions bugging people's minds and causing sleepless nights.

Buying presents for everyone - that drives even the most stable guy crazy. Everybody panics trying to buy a valuable gift, to guess what others like, not to mention financial problems. When someone you barely know sends you a gift, you are forced to go out and send them back a proper present. In Sheldon Cooper's words, they don't give you a present, they give you an obligation. When the family budget goes lower than planned - then follows a series of nervous breakdowns, scandals, conflicts, unpleasant family dramas right in the shopping malls. Then comes the army of broken hearts - girlfriends with low-priced gifts from their boyfriends, wives with not so "warm" attitudes from their husbands, people with no attention from their loved ones and countless other problems, resulting in depression, anxiety and hysteria. Suicide rate is the highest during Christmastime. The only ones profiting from this frenzy are the big companies, commercializing every single aspect of this holiday. Consumerism reigns during the Christmastime. As Damien Rice says: "We'll call it Christmas when the adverts begin". Even I feel there is no Christmastime until I see my favorite Coca-Cola Christmas commercial. But still, like Grinch, I think Christmas "doesn't come from a store" (IMDb).

Cars become almost useless. There are constant traffic jams in the streets. If you are lucky enough and got a reindeer or two and a sleigh, you may consider going out, otherwise you had better walk, unless you enjoy being stuck in a jam for hours. You won't be bored on public transport anyway. Everybody notices your burning desire to talk and share your thoughts, remember? If you are a bit careless and leave your car in a remote area, you must be lucky to find it again. New Year's Eve is the top car theft day in the United States (Rabiner).

Decorating a house can end in a disaster. Many people have no idea how dangerous it can be to decorate your apartment. Almost "80,000 revelers need hospital treatment over the festive season" (Mirror News). Most of the injuries are falls, cuts and burns. It's the time of excitement and accidents are highly likely to occur - kitchen accidents with hot water or sharp knife, children cutting themselves while opening presents, or accidentally breaking Christmas Tree toys, electric shocks with Christmas lights ( about 10000 Americans are hurt every year while decorating their house) (Mirror News). Many people have serious health problems because of food poisoning or drinking too much alcohol. But food creates more serious problems, than just poisoning. It all starts when everything is over. People look in the mirror and extra kilos are too obvious. There is no point in resolutions before Christmas. No matter how many times you repeat to yourself that you cannot eat too much, it is futile. There are candies and sweets everywhere, tasty meals and specialties that no human being can resist. When you realize what happened, it is too late, you have consumed more than your usual 3-day ration. Then starts I-am-so-fat depression, an obligatory diet for a couple of months, leading millions of people, especially female ones, to frenzy, stress and sleepless nights. Dateline NBC/Prevention Magazine reported that fully 41% of the US citizens it surveyed rated the Christmas holiday season as stressful (Post).

February 14 - the most romantic day of the year, or probably not. For some it is the day of shattering dreams, feeling alone and miserable, but sometimes even worse. It is a horror for two kinds of people - who are single and who are not. For singles it is a bitter reminder that they have not found "The One", that there is no one special in their lives. Or even worse, they have found their one and only, but he or she will never feel the same, and on this day of love, hope and romance, they have to suffer the idea that their dreams will never come true. About 18% of American women buy flowers or gifts for themselves (AboutFlowers). If they have just broken up, then it is the worst, watching others demonstrating their love and affection everywhere they go. Couples, couples everywhere - the real nightmare for singles. But they can just try to ignore it and choose to stay at home. It is the ones who are not single that can never ignore Valentines' day. Personally, I think it is much harder for them. The intended purpose of celebrating that day was to bring couples closer and share their warm feelings (if you have not shown any affection for the whole year, doing so on February 14 probably will not do much). Today Valentine's day "has been transformed into a commercial spectacle peddled to us by florists, greeting card companies, jewelry stores and makers of stuffed animals" (Obeidallah). According to statistics, about $18 billion is spent for this special day in the United States (The Guardian). On Valentine's Day we are obliged to be nice and romantic, does not it sound a bit hypocrite? If you are not nice and passionate with your partner any other day, you probably won't be on February 14 either, unless you fake it. Many guys may get in trouble, because their gift may be too cheap or not in their girlfriend's taste or they may not show enough attention. Gift is supposed to express love and affection, but it is more like buying a "get out of the trouble" ticket. There is a gift competition among girls and boys are very well aware that their girlfriends expect to get a better present than other girls do. It is quite common that a couple has a terrible fight or even breaks up just because of Valentine's Day. They set their hopes and expectations too high, and then they meet disappointment. About 53% of women admit that they would break up with their boyfriends if they did not get any present (StatisticBrain). Divorce filings rise about 40% this time of year, says data from Avvo, a site that rates and ranks lawyers (The Guardian). These statistics show how much pressure couples experience on Valentine's Day. But still, it is neither equal for both genders nor reciprocal. Even when a couple agrees not to do anything special on that day and a guy does not bring even a single flower and a girl does not do anything either, it is never the same. Man still feels guilty, because she may be a bit disappointed, watching other girls getting presents. It is always one-sided. Why is there no special day, when girls are supposed to bring a cold six-pack of Budweiser and a hot pizza? Gender equality…If it is a day of love, how many girls even think of making a surprise for their boyfriends? It is supposed to be a day of love and happiness and in reality it is a day of stress, fear and disappointment soaked with cupid-shaped chocolates and fluffy animal toys.

No matter what, it is true there is a group of people who celebrate February 14 with their loved ones and spend the happiest moments of their lives together. But this group is far outnumbered but those who despise Valentines' Day as hypocrite, pompous and extremely commercialized. The worst may happen in this "happy" group, when couples drink and have fun, show affection and less attention. And soon…surprise! About 11 thousand children are conceived only on Valentine's Day (StatisticBrain). If you are born in the first half of November, you know your parents had fun. But the news is not exciting at all when it is unplanned, especially for teenagers.

Mother's or Father's Day can be in the list of unpleasant days for many. Usually all kinds of holidays are commercialized, but in this case, most probably, feelings are personal. For those who do not get along with their parent, were abandoned or had tough childhood issues due to a domestic violence, celebrating Father's or Mother's Day is not quite nice, as it brings a lot of bitter memories. It is especially hard for orphans - may it be kids or grownups that lost their parents. Life without a father or mother is always hard, but on this day, especially, these people feel the lack of parental warmth and affection. For me, it is a good opportunity to express my gratitude and love to my parents (unfortunately, most of the kids, like me, are not usually compassionate). But there is no holiday when everyone is happy. Mother's or Father's Day is directly related to one's personal life and brings adequate emotions. For some it is a day to show respect, but for some it only stirs up painful memories, or on the contrary, quite happy memories, which they can never revive with their lost parent.

"Don't be a cooked turkey" there is no need to guess - we are going to talk about Thanksgiving (WMBF News). What a beautiful day, whole family together eating fried turkey and sweet potatoes. Who cares about history of Thanksgiving, the main thing is a good meal. Look at all the lovely housewives who are cooking 242 million turkeys every year and more than 1000 fire accidents while frying those turkeys. Property damage due to fire costs $15 million each year (WMBF News).  And this is not the end. People want to see their relatives so much that Thanksgiving in 2010 beat every record in holiday history. 431 people died on roads (ABC News). What will be thanksgiving without turkey? Of course, nothing. But more than 1000 fire accidents every year is not a small number even for such a big country as the United States. This day is one of the most horrible days in lives of vegetarians. Imagine you are at the table with all your relatives and they are tearing apart that poor, fried, headless turkey. Yes, it is very depressing that this turkey died so that some people would be able to eat so much food, that it could have lasted for 3 dinners. When we are talking about turkeys, we must never forget housewives, who make everything for this day and unfortunately, 14 February, which would pay this back, is more than 2 month away. Making dinner for the whole family is not an easy job. Thanksgiving is not a good holiday for turkeys. It is more like a Holocaust than a holiday every year for turkeys. With more than 1000 fire accidents every year, 242 million dead turkeys and 431 fatal car accidents in 2010 Thanksgiving is the bloodiest holiday in the United States. For this year's holiday, came out a new song "It's Thanksgiving" and it is a real crime against humanity. A girl is singing using a turkey's fried leg, which makes Thanksgiving not only the bloodiest holiday in the United States, but the weirdest one too.

"Nightmare before Christmas" is the scariest holiday in the United States. This holiday started thousands of years ago in Europe but was reborn in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Halloween, scary outfits, trick or treating and a lot of candy is what we know, but Halloween has a darker side than we know. Not only ghosts and vampires are frightening, Halloween is known for its high rate of pedestrian death. A lot of young people away from home during the night with black costumes of course it is dangerous for life. Cars are better killers than zombies in real life. Every year more than 5 children die in pedestrian accidents during Halloween (Republican Herald).

During the last few years, costumes of "American Psycho" became very popular and we can no longer see who is under the costume, a real psycho or just a man with a cool costume and a bloody axe in his hand. Man carrying an axe is not common in everyday life, but Halloween is an exception. It is the best day during the year to bring your most cruel intentions to life. So can we just celebrate this holiday and not think about what can possibly happen? It is a real holiday for kidnappers, murderers and psychos. A lot of costumes and everyone is happy: adults with alcohol, Captain America costumes for men and sexy Captain America costumes for women, greedy children and pedophiles with their precious candy. Nobody will notice you, nobody will see your face, so you can do everything: seduce a drunken woman, kidnap a child, kill or beat someone and next day go to work like nothing happened. Do you still think that Halloween is just a funny holiday? Just think about what can possibly happen to you or your children. Every moment a celebration can turn into a nightmare. It is really the scariest and the most frightening holiday in the United States.

The day of national pride, Fourth of July, day of independence, can easily become a day of mourning and tears. Fireworks are really beautiful that day and, of course, who cares about children? Last year six children were drowned during the fireworks because their parents just watched it and did not even think what was going to happen. It was not the only accident that day (The African Searchlight). People never think that something terrible may happen on holidays, which is why driving while intoxicated by alcohol is a normal thing for holidays. During 2000-2009 years, Independence Day was the bloodiest holiday in the United States. Only in 2010 Independence Day, with only 392 deaths on roads, let Thanksgiving have the first place (ABC News). Next prize for most injuries of the year in the United States is going to Independence Day for thousands of burn injuries around the country. More than 9000 injuries is an impressive number. Hundreds of people lose their fingers because of their home-made fireworks. "Curiosity killed the cat". Now we can say "curiosity to make fireworks at home cut hundreds of fingers" (US Fire Administration). When you are going to buy illegal fireworks or you are going to make them yourself, first calculate well how many fingers it will cost you.

In conclusion, holidays can become nightmares for thousands of people every year. When you are shooting fireworks at Independence Day, think at the same time about how many people are laying in hospital beds because of the same fireworks, with severe burns all over their body, or without fingers. When you are choosing a costume for Halloween, think about how many psychos are preparing for their holiday. When you are looking at your beautiful Christmas tree, think about how many people were crushed by their Christmas tree. Think first, when you are preparing for Valentine's Day, that it may be the last day with your love. How can you wait calmly for your relatives when they are on the road? Do you still think that holidays bring only happiness and joy? You had better reconsider your thoughts about it and brace yourself. Maybe you are a survivor of Thanksgiving, but Christmas and New Year are coming.

Sources

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Chittley, Jordan. "San Diego Independence Day Fireworks Explode Prematurely in Only 15 Seconds." Yahoo! News. N.p., 5 July 2012. Web.

"CPSC Special Study on Fireworks Incidents Finds Hundreds of Injuries a Day Surrounding July 4 Holiday Festivities." NEWS from CPSC 26 June 2012, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

"Focus on Fire Safety: Fireworks." U.S. Fire Administration. Web.

Lupkin, Sydney. "More Fatal Car Crashes On Thanksgiving Day: Advice That Could Save Your Life." ABC News. ABC News Network, 21 Nov. 2012. Web.

Marchiano, Amy. "Statistics Show Halloween Has the Highest Rate of Pedestrian Fatalities."Republican Herald. N.p., 31 Oct. 2012. Web.

Rice, Damien. AzLyrics. Web. 7 Dec.2012.

Green, John; Levithan, David. Will Grayson, Will Grayson. New York: Dutton, 2010. Print.

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Mirror News. "Christmas - 80,000 accidents every year". 3 Dec, 2010. Web. 6 Dec.2012

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/christmas---80000-accidents-every-266843

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Rabiner, Stephanie. "New Year's Day Is Top Car Theft Day". FindLaw. Dec 29, 2011. Web. Dec 6. 2012

<http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2011/12/new-years-day-is-top-car-theft-day.html>

"SC Ranks in Top 10 for Thanksgiving Cooking Fires." WMBF News. N.p., 14 Nov. 2012. Web.

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