I don’t like Christmas.
When you read that, you thought “how horribly Grinch-like!” or “that’s really sad” or some other negative response, right?
I don’t like Christmas, and it’s not a big deal. But it seems to be a big deal every time I say it. The shock, the questions, the attempts to convince me otherwise. My feelings and opinions on holiday appear to be very very important to those around me, and maybe they’re just trying to fill me with some of the magic that they feel so that we can all be jolly together but at the end of the day it’s simply just a personal choice. I can feel magic and joy without needing a holiday to tell me to do so.
I’m not a Grinch, at least I try not to be. I don’t want others to experience Christmas any less than they want to. When I say “I don’t like Christmas” it’s not an attempt to ruin their holiday, it’s simply an expression of my opinion on the matter. A succinct attempt to give them a head’s up that, hey, if you keep talking about how much you love Christmas and all the wonders it brings, I just don’t really have anything to add to the conversation. I’m happy you’re happy, I just don’t care to participate.
First of all, I don’t believe in the Christian God. I don’t really think I ever did, and it was never really imposed on me by my family; I was baptized but never confirmed and we stopped going to church before I can remember what church is like. Believing in God isn’t necessary for Christmas, I understand that, but the name is right there in the title of the holiday. You don’t expect a person of Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist faith to celebrate Christmas, and you’re probably okay with that. But someone with no faith at all, well that’s just unacceptable.
Like I said, I do understand that the holiday isn’t all about Christ. It’s also about the unity of bringing people together, friends and family and loved ones. It’s a nice way to sum up a year, an excuse to see people you haven’t seen in a while, a reason to reconnect and eat and drink and be merry. And that’s a lot of fucking pressure. What if you’re not in the mood to be merry? The calendar says it’s the last week of December so you better start feeling it. In full force, nothing held back. You also better make sure you remember the names of all of those people you haven’t seen or even spoken to in months or maybe years, and you better have some fun upbeat anecdotes ready to share about how interesting your life has been since you last saw them. You have to be warm and polite and you have to make sure to talk to everyone long enough so that they feel like they’re important to you. And you have to do all of this while traveling through the worst crowds you’ve ever seen, and you better show up not exhausted and instead thrilled to now spend 4 days with people you literally have nothing in common with. Remember your cousins who you used to babysit nearly every weekend until they were 3 and 4? Now, you keep calling them by their wrong names and they have no recollection of ever knowing you.
Then there are the presents. Yes, I understand that Christmas isn’t about the presents, but it’s also 100% about the presents, right! You want to show that you care about someone so you think for a while about what they like, what they have, what they need, and what they want. You think about what dollar amount that friendship is worth to you and then you start searching for the perfect present. You need something personal enough so when they receive it, they know how much you care about them, so it has to be perfect. Multiply that effort and stress for all of your friends and family and now it’s basically a full time job finding gifts for everybody. You’ll never really know if you nailed it. Every single one of them will tell you they love it, that it’s just what they wanted, that they’re so honored you thought of them, that you didn’t have to, and then they’ll remind you that they love it one more time. Because who’s going to receive a Christmas gift and say, “sorry friend you missed the mark this time” and crush the efforts of the giver?
The pressure is also on even when you’re receiving gifts. That cozy sweater that’s just the style you want doesn’t fit. Do you smile and say thanks and throw it in the back of your closet forever? Do you muster up the courage to tell them it’s not quite right and make them feel guilty and embarrassed for missing the mark? You open a toy you’ve been excited to play with for weeks because you were just certain you would receive it. You go to play and there are no batteries because that slipped everyone’s mind, and now the giver has to watch your disappointment as you continue to wait some more before you can actually enjoy the gift they thought would bring you immediate joy.
It’s the guilt and the pressure of it all that takes away the magic for me. Years, and years and years of disappointed faces and voices, of spending so much effort only to realize it’s not appreciated, of the expectations and being forced to participate in unwanted awkward events.
I’d rather just refrain from it all. The rest of Western Civilization can continue to carry on with their lights and their songs and their cookies and their presents and their glee. All I want to do is continue on as normal because literally none of it means anything to me.