I love the look and feel of Christmas.
I love the candles, the presents under trees, the cozy fireplaces, the sparkly decorations, the homely food, the gathering of people, and the festive ambiance.
I love Christmas, at least superficially. So don’t get me wrong.
I’m not against Christmas. I simply don’t like celebrating it.
Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas
Strangely enough, it was my fundamentalist Christian parents who first taught me that you don’t have worship the sacred cows of society like everyone else does.
My parents called Christmas a “pagan” celebration, due to its pre-Christian roots and lack of basis in the Bible. So as a kid, I never celebrated Christmas. But since leaving their religion, I still don’t celebrate it.
Frankly, I couldn’t care less that Christmas has pagan roots (all the better in my opinion), but what matters to me is what it has evolved into today.
In our society, celebrating Christmas is thought of as a time to spend with loved ones and exchange presents in the spirit of giving. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this fundamentally. And for many people, Christmas is a ritualistic time to feel connected with others, which I think is valuable.
But Christmas has become a burden for many. Instead of being a time to feel connected with others, it has become a time to drain your wallet, force yourself to socialize, dutifully conform to the expectations of others, and stress yourself out.
But of course, many of us don’t voice these feelings for fear of being criticized and judged. After all, Christmas is what we’d call a “Sacred Cow,” meaning that it is a tradition many people respect greatly and hold above analysis.
It’s undeniable that Christmas for many has become a source of financial burden, anxiety, comparison, and competition. And unfortunately, we end up feeling even more stressed and burned out than when we were at work! So much for the supposedly “rejuvenating” holiday season.
One of the major reasons why Christmas is a stressful period is because of the social dimension of wanting to appease other people and their expectations. We want to please our children, we want to please our partners, we want to please our extended family members and our friends. In many cases, we have to also go and see our in-laws. You know what that means! Fake laughs, feigned airs and graces, and obligatory gift giving.
If you’re an adult, you’re likely expected to spend hours cooking, while ensuring that everyone has been checked off the present list, and a million other responsibilities.
And this is not mentioning the need to be a good “host” and entertain your guests.
Did you know that some people rank Christmas as being more stressful than being burgled or getting a divorce? It’s no wonder.
I don’t celebrate Christmas because I refuse to be pressured. I don’t celebrate Christmas because I like to give from the heart (not out of obligation or duty), spend time with people I resonate with (rather than feel forced to interact with) and be my genuine self (rather than be what others want me to be).
Life to me isn’t about getting and having, but it is instead about giving and being. I prefer to spend as much time I can throughout the entire year, and in as many moments as I can, expressing my gratitude for others. I don’t like reserving the “spirit of giving” to just one day a year. I like to give and enjoy life as often as possible because I never realistically know how long I have left.
I’m not against Christmas, I just see its current state as a symptom of a society that is largely out-of-touch with itself.
So let’s all slow down, take it easy, and remember what counts. Because at the end of the day, it isn’t going to be how much you spent, what you bought, how well you cooked, or how you entertained that counts, but the quality of presence that you share with others. Conscious presence is everything.