Oh, it’s Christmas time again. If you’re a lover of all things Christmas, this post may not be for you. Similar to LIFE, it is not going to be all sunshine and mistletoes. It’s going to get rant-y, people! You’ve been warned.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I really do not like Christmas and other “holidays.” Yes, I participate in the festivities from time-to-time, but overall, I remain unimpressed. I think my original discontent stems from coming up in a broken family, but it has really evolved into my general discomfort with the assumption (and subsequently, the pressure associated with said assumption) that literally everyone needs to meet certain parameters this time of year and every year thereafter.
The parameters being:
- The person has the resources to participate in gift-giving.
- The person has the time to participate in gift-giving.
- The person has an intact and fully functioning family unit in close proximity that they can “celebrate” with.
- The person’s family unit has the resources to participate in gift-giving and catering.
- The person’s family unit has the time to participate in gift-giving and catering.
- The person has a stable home or has a family with a stable home that has the capacity to host people for meals.
- The person has/is going to install a “Christmas tree” and other decorations around said stable home.
- The person partakes in “traditions” such as cookie-baking, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, etc. with family/friends.
- The person doesn’t have a job that requires them to work on the holidays.
- The person will reciprocate “the Christmas spirit”.
At work or school, instead of people asking “Do you celebrate the holidays?” they ask “What are you doing for Christmas?!” Or, more precisely, “What are you doing this year to meet the parameters?!” It’s difficult because everyone tends to see the world through their own lens and thus, they ask these questions without consideration of the other person’s circumstances.
But, we cannot assume that everyone has a family unit that is intact and fully functioning that effortlessly meets “the parameters.” So many people that do not have the privilege of meeting “the parameters” feel embarrassed or ashamed when asked about their holiday plans because they simply might not have any. The pressure to fill that span of time with red and green themed things might be a crippling experience for them. Because according to our made-up societal standards, “the holidays” cannot look like a regular day. And, we must keep up with the Joneses at all costs.
I’m all for celebrations and family time. My main issue is that we put pressure on those around us to be up for celebrating and spending time with family (if they even have one) when they may not be. We judge people who aren’t up for the challenge no matter the reason.
And another thing…
When people ask me “what do you want for Christmas” I cringe. Because in my mind I’m like “oh crap, not only do I feel I have to come up with something that I want, I’ll need to reciprocate and also get them something.” I’ll need to keep up with the Joneses. With Christmas gift-giving comes the expectation and assumption that the other person will give you something in return. For me, giving is just that: giving. The reason we should expect something in return that is at least of equal value is really beyond my understanding.
And then when we receive something of lesser value, or perhaps a “repurposed” gift, we talk crap about the person until next Christmas without even giving an inkling of a thought as to the circumstances behind the choosing of that gift. We don’t even consider the possibility that the other person may be struggling financially or mentally or whatever else. We just assume that “they got it like us” and are perfectly capable of the same things we are. Christmas makes us into even bigger assholes than we are any other time of the year.
And obviously, Christmas is a Christian holiday. But newsflash: there are billions upon billions of people who are not Christian, but may feel like they have to celebrate in some form in order to appear “normal” to their coworkers or schoolmates. Man, that’s messed up.
The holidays (and Christmas in particular) are overrated. They put pressure on people to spend money they don’t have and to have something to do that day that isn’t sitting at home enjoying their time in their own way but instead involves sipping on eggnog and eating Thanksgiving-like cuisine with other humans. We’ve really got to stop making people feel abnormal and out of place around the holidays.
We’ve got to stop over-exaggerating and over-romanticizing the holidays and just let the day come and go with no crazy pressure or expectations of ourselves or others. The day isn’t even supposed to be about obsessing over material things, decorations, and cookies. It’s supposed to be a religious celebration but it is now a far cry from that. It’s become about comparing ourselves to other people and comparing other people to other people. It’s become about proving to the rest of the world that we can keep up. Even if that means draining our bank accounts and going into a new year broke AF. But hey, at least we’ve convinced everyone and we looked good doing it, right?
If there’s going to be a day or a season of giving, let it be every day and every season. And let it not just be inanimate objects that will depreciate in value tomorrow. How about giving kindness and consideration to people around us: those we know and strangers alike. How about listening to someone else’s story about how they’re spending their day off without interjecting our need to feel seen and heard. Our need to ask questions of people backed with only the context of our own lives. Our need to prove to the world that we’re worthy of praise because look at how good we are at Christmas!
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or not, when the day comes, don’t ask questions just so that you can be asked and subsequently go on an escapade about how you’re spending your time. Don’t give gifts just so that you can receive gifts in return. Don’t go around judging people because they don’t do the things you do. Make it a day you will live on your own terms regardless of what those dang Joneses are doing. Because for all you know, even the Joneses aren’t able to keep up with the Joneses.
Happy freakin’ Holidays my friends!