Bah, humbug! 

December brings to mind an orgy of consumerism, shopping, gluttony — all good celebratory stuff, but also stuff that can easily get out of hand. Before you can say "Happy Holidays," our society co-opts old traditions into examples of what it does best: overindulge. Overspend. Overcomplicate.

When you're swimming against the mainstream — or not even in the water — at this time of year, the excesses seem even more startling.

When we started to talk about what the holidays mean, we found a cynical, jaded attitude lurking in each of us. It's not that we're grinched on the holidays, either. Rather, we're grinched on what the holidays, in this society, have become.

We don't go out and steal presents from Whos, but to cope, we live our own solutions and create our own takes on go to get through the December insanity. Here are a few ...

The un-gift
Alisa Gordaneer's brother may not shop for you, but he'll think of you. Now, our features editor doesn't want to say he's stingy. He is a little hard to shop for.

Truly screwged
Is it just newswriter Ann Mullen, or do others feel like an outsider during Christmastime? She knows she should be filled with good cheer, but she's not.

Burning bright
Arts editor George Tysh celebrates the Winter Solstice with a big bonfire and a little swig of holiday cheer. It's a nontraditional celebration, but his kids love it.

On Buddha and burglary
The Christmas shopping season allows newswriter Jennifer Bagwell to meditate upon the glaring differences between Western materialism and the Buddhist principle of nonattachment.

Can't beat 'em, join 'em
Christmas is a weird time of year for Jews, says metrotimes.com editor Adam Druckman. But that doesn't stop him from throwing a big Christmas party, roasted chestnuts and all.

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