Christmas… called by some “the most wonderful time of the year”. I personally consider it a massive inconvenience, expensive and full of unrealistic expectations.
When I was a kid, I didn’t really question things, as this is what the adults around me were doing as it was normal. Why would I question it? I liked the prospect of getting presents (what kid wouldn’t?!), and I loved the Christmas lights… especially the bubble lights we had on our mantle and there were a few ornaments that I particularly liked… either the look or the feel of them. I loved sitting in the living room watching TV with the normal lights off, bathing in the glow of the tree and mantle decorations. Seeing my cousins and playing with our new toys was always a highlight.
Now that I’m older and living away from my place of origin (n.b. I consider England “home” now, as the house I grew up in ceased to be my home when my mother stopped talking to me), and particularly because there are no small children in our immediate family (that responsibility will rest on Paul’s and my shoulders eventually), I don’t see the point in going nuts for decorating just for us.
Firstly, whilst our mortgage finally was sorted last month, his mother still has not been able to move into her flat due to a busted water heater (who would’ve thought that a flat sitting empty and unused for nearly a year would have a detrimental effect on the appliances?!), so I’m upset that it’s another Christmas where we’re not independent; she is going to be out of the country for Christmas, but it’s the principle of it all. As such, I still don’t feel like this house is completely “our own” yet, and I’m not motivated to decorate because I’m feeling depressed.
Secondly, we have not yet accumulated any sort of Christmas decorations, so if we were to decorate, we’d have to go out and buy loads of tat, and we have more important things to put money towards other than silly decorations that would only be out for a few weeks and spend the majority of the time in a box in the loft.
Thirdly, even if we had decorations, (as briefly touched on in point 2) I don’t see the point in hauling stuff out to put up for a brief period of time just to put them away again after a few weeks, especially if we’re not having any guests over… so what is the benefit? For ourselves? The greater benefit would be for us to just leave our house as it is… requires a lot less effort!
OK, so that’s decorations addressed… now, presents.
Capitalism at its finest.
It’s cute when you’re a kid and you buy your dad another pocket-sized toolkit with money your mom gave you for the Secret Santa shop set up in the gymnasium of your elementary school. When you’re in your 30s and you know your dad has what he needs and would really only benefit from gift cards for petrol… it kinda takes the excitement out… because there’s nothing worse than getting something for someone that you think they’ll really like, only to be greeted with “Present Face” (very funny video by comedy duo Garfunkel & Oates). Or worse… when you’ve not been asked what you would like for Christmas and you’re given stuff which either you don’t need or you don’t particularly want… and you’re trying to avoid giving “Present Face” yourself… when you know for a fact that your face regularly betrays you and reveals what you’re thinking to other people.
Expectations are also set waaaaaaaay too high by advertisers. Light fluffy snow, happy families, big dinner, loads of presents… no one’s Christmas is ever that perfect. Never. Stop perpetuating this falsehood. It’s just wrong.
Going on a slight tangent… homelessness, especially at this time of year, breaks my heart. In the book A Pony In The Bedroom (which I have referenced before in this post), Susan Dunne talks about a period of time when she was homeless, which gave me a different perspective about homelessness. When we were in Birmingham last week, I saw several rough sleepers on the pavement, and it made me very sad; what made me feel worse was that we kept walking by, just like everyone else around us. Later on, I was heartened by seeing a Homeless Outreach Team wearing high-viz vests going around and talking to them. I think it’s because I feel conditioned as a woman to feel scared about approaching strangers, especially homeless folks, as the assumption is that you’ll get robbed or attacked in some other vicious way. I might look into supporting a local homeless support service so I feel less guilty about not stopping to help.
Anyway, there was a reason for that tangent. Perpetuating the falsehood that Christmas is some sort of magical time of year and everything is perfect couldn’t be further from the truth for the homeless and the impoverished. People seem to become blinded by these truths and choose to ignore it.
I suppose it just all frustrates me so much. It’s too much for one person to put right on their own.
Another thing that bothers me is the assumption that, unless otherwise identified as affiliating with another religion other than some derivation of Christianity, you “celebrate” Christmas and are often wished “Merry Christmas”. Simple and inoffensive, one may think, but I honestly identify myself as Atheist… that is, Atheism, meaning “a lack of belief in gods”.
I have never subscribed to any religion and if life has taught me anything, religion causes more harm than good. So I feel like I can’t actually say that I don’t believe in Christmas as I don’t believe in Christianity, because I don’t really feel like I have to justify my beliefs (or lack thereof) to anyone who will not actually ever convince me of a bearded man who lives in the sky. So, if anything, I feel like it’s hypocritical to buy into the whole Christmas malarkey just to not be a social outcast because everyone (n.b. obviously I don’t mean everyone, but you know what I mean) else does when I don’t believe in it.
It’s not like I’m against the whole “peace, togetherness, kindness” stuff that comes with the season, but that’s just being a good person – you don’t need a religion to make you not be a dick to other people.
Plus, there’s the whole thing how Christmas was actually stolen from the Pagans’ celebration of Yule, so…
I’m not a Grinch in that I’m not saying that no one should celebrate Christmas or that those who do are hypocrites (there are hypocrites everywhere); all I’m saying is that I would feel hypocritical if I partook in the whole Christmas thing in the way that society expects me to. That’s not to say that I’m not going to be having Christmas dinner with Paul and my dad & Rita; if anything, Christmas is a nice excuse to have a lush homecooked meal. 🙂
If Christmas is something you celebrate, then Happy Christmas to you and your family. If you celebrate anything else, I send you good wishes as well [I’ll leave you to fill in the blank]. Or, if like me, you don’t choose to celebrate any of the above, then good for you. Happy December.