Monday, December 18, 2006

There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing...

…It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!

Warning: the following commentary is brought to you by a mother who has not finished Christmas shopping.

I truly love Christmas.

I think it is because I am an idealist, even an optimist, and I believe that the Christmas season allows people to be more generous and just a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings.

It’s my theory that this, in part, is due to a change in network television programming. Seriously!

Here’s the thing: compared to other times of the year, there are more pro-social television programs on (at least during prime time) over the Christmas season. Meaning that more people are watching “positive” programming and less of the usual crime/punishment/dark side of humanity stuff. Which probably has an effect on our collective ability to be a little more generous, a little more tolerant…

Think I’m eating too many roasted chestnuts? Well, consider this: in a child development study from 1975, children who were shown a prosocial TV show actually “helped” more than kids who were shown other programs. And what was this TV show? Lassie, of course!

(“What’s that girl? Timmy’s ratings fell down a well?” Oh well. We lost Lassie but gained a purple dinosaur- hokey, yes, but oh so pro-social!)

So, do Christmas TV specials depicting our favorite characters being a little kinder and gentler actually rub off on us? They certainly can’t hurt.

But there is little doubt that Christmas has been bringing out the better side of humanity long before the invention of the cathode ray tube. Dickens confirms this for us in “A Christmas Carol” (written in 1842) when Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew says of Christmas…

“(it’s)…the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys…”

Obviously, my TV-based theory is skating on thin ice. Speaking of ice… maybe those former-Olympian figure skating specials have something to do with it…

No, not even the thoughts of needing to spend 5 hours shopping tomorrow will dampen my Christmas spirit. And if I find that the Mall is not exactly a refuge of good will and sisterly love, I’m sure there will be a nice holiday family special on tomorrow night!

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