I love winter, but I’ve never really loved Christmas. I find Christmas movies obnoxious and Christmas music grating like nails on a chalkboard. I hate red and green together, and the insane consumerism surrounding at least America’s Christmas is absurd. To say I can’t stand Christmas is an understatement. I still feel this way about all things stated above, but I’m learning to adapt Christmas to my needs and expectations and avoiding all other versions.
I haven’t been excited about Christmas in a long time. I used to be excited because it was a break from school and gifts were fun. Now, I dread the holiday season and can’t stand receiving gifts or the overwhelming onslaught of “Christmas cheer.”
Why I Don’t Like Christmas
There are so many reasons why I don’t like Christmas and haven’t for a while. Many of them really come down to sensory overload and feeling overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of “Christmas” on all the senses. I also did not grow up in a religious or Christian household and have never felt a connection to the religious parts of the American Christmas Experience. I think a lot of my dislike of Christmas is that its pushed as the “only” winter holiday when there are many holidays celebrated in December. It feels like culture erasure. I would love to hear more about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah over the radio, in music, and movies. That would make the holiday seasons more interesting and less stifling. The “War on Christmas” kills me because it’s such an ethnocentric view on the holiday season. Saying “Happy Holidays” is inclusive and doesn’t assume everyone you meet celebrates Christmas.
I don’t like receiving gifts; I feel awkward, don’t know how to react, and often don’t need or want the gift. I like food, tea, and other consumable gifts because they don’t hang around. I also like gifts I can use with other people like games or events. Otherwise, if it isn’t practical, I have a hard time enjoying it. I know gifts are about the thought and that someone was thinking about me but I really believe that a text, letter, or homemade gifts are the best. I don’t need a sweater or a ceramic figurine for Christmas to feel like someone was thinking of me. I honestly lose the feeling of being loved if a gift is what is telling me I’m loved. I want quality time and conversations, not gifts.
I love stocking stuffers. They are my favorite part of giving and receiving gifts. Often stocking stuffers are useful or fun items that are relatively inexpensive. I love stockings and when I have children, I want this tradition to be the primary form of gift giving in our house.
I think holiday movies are awful. I haven’t enjoyed a holiday movie ever; with the exception of Barbie and the Nutcracker, I have always loved the Nutcracker (I still haven’t seen the Nutcracker and the Four Realms!). My favorite movie to watch for Christmas is the Addams Family Values.
I feel like Christmas movies are all predictable, a little boring, and sometimes incredibly creepy (I’m looking at you Love Actually). There’s a difference between being creepy intentionally and being creepy and not knowing you’re being creepy. Most Holiday movies are straight up creepy and weird.
Christmas music is the same handful of songs performed by a bunch of different artists with little to no variation everywhere you go. It’s all so pervasive. I can appreciate that a lot of people love this, but it can be overwhelming and frustrating for those of us that don’t celebrate Christmas or are overwhelmed by the oppressiveness of red and green decorations, grating music played on a loop everywhere you go, and people shouting “Merry Christmas” at you when you enter and leave the grocery store.
My family never really did Christmas when other people did
My dad almost always worked on Christmas day so most of my Christmases were celebrated a day or so before or after the 25th. Christmas was always a general time during December, not a set date. This is not the fault of anyone, it’s just how it was at my house. I also had a rule that we couldn’t decorate for Christmas until after my birthday (December 7th) and so we were always a little behind in celebrating than everyone else.
The “giving season” lie
The Holiday season is “the season of giving” or the “giving season!” On an individual level, people really “care” about people living in poverty or are homeless around this time of year, then turn around and complain about freeloaders and lazy people asking for handouts every other month of the year. Many organizations actually do good this time of year and make an effort the rest of the year as well, I’m not calling them out.
I’m calling out all the people who hate refugees and immigrants but put nativity scenes up for Christmas. The people who think giving to charity in December somehow forgives every nasty thing they have said about the “welfare” population and the people who work minimum wage in jobs that are by all means necessary who don’t “deserve” a livable wage. The giving season lie perpetuates the myth that America doesn’t hate poor people.
How My Feelings About Christmas Have Changed Over Time
I still feel all of those things listed above and those feelings are stronger than ever this year. I am trying to embrace “Christmas time” at least on an aesthetic level. I will never embrace it on a religious level because that would require me to embrace religion and that will never happen.
Here’s what changed. I decided that I was going to make Christmas and the holidays what I wanted them to be, not what everyone says they are or should be. I’m not changing anything about my life or beliefs to accommodate the holidays. Christmas is just something that happens in December. It’s not a grand or even important event, just a time where I get to hang out with people I love.
I am focusing on Christmas as a time for gathering and being merry and nothing more. I’ve struggled for a long time with religious affiliations and at this point in my life, I’m letting go of it all. I appreciate traditions, but not ones that tie me to any spiritual beliefs. Many Christmas traditions are old traditions that predate Christianity and were appropriated for the commercialized version of Christmas.
As a former anthropology major I also enjoy knowing the origins of traditions and I’m sticking to the stories that go all the way back to beginning that are shrouded in mystery and have different tellings. Take the Christmas tree. Some versions of the origin story are about bringing trees into the home during the cold months so fairies had a warm place to stay and ornaments were so they could jingle them to let you know they were pleased. This is just one story, but it’s whimsical fun, and makes sense at a superstitious pagan level. More so than putting open flames on a very flammable and dead tree.
The holidays should be fun and refreshing, not stressful, expensive, and with high expectations. Everyone celebrates differently and for different reasons. That’s what makes culture so interesting. I think the pervasiveness as one version of one holiday in our collective culture is what makes it so off putting to me. There are so many ways people celebrate the holidays and many different traditions that Christmas doesn’t include.
How I Like To Celebrate Christmas
I like to celebrate Christmas by being with family, which is how so many people celebrate, but I want that time to be unhurried and without the stress of decorating, giving presents, and pretending to believe in things I don’t believe in. I want this time of year to be about unwinding and renewal; not a capitalist race to spend as much money as possible on decorations and gifts; and not a statement about how religious one family is in their celebrations. The holidays are about family and celebration. If you feel guilty. alone, or stressed during the holiday seasons, maybe you need to change up how you celebrate.
I spent so much time hating everything about Christmas that I missed that I could make Christmas about what I want it to be about. I’m not religious and have never been. The holidays are different from everyone and they should be enjoyable. I’m celebrating the holidays my way this year. celebrate in ways that make you feel good, not how you are expected to celebrate. Make new traditions, distance yourself from the things you don’t believe in, embrace other cultures, and carry your “giving season” mentality throughout the year with a different perspective.