Hands up – Who doesn’t like Christmas? Since I’ve been stating I’m not a fan, I’ve been surprised by how many people don’t. I think it’s nonsensical, annoying and stressful.
Those of you who enjoy the razzle dazzle of it, I’m happy for you. Some of my best friends love the decorations and lights and present giving. And I appreciate that. I also appreciate a good fruit pudding with custard and brandy butter. I understand those who enjoy the religious experience. After all, Christmas is supposed to celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus, isn’t it? And hymns sung in a cathedral do sound divine.
I even accept that Christmas in the northern hemisphere – an experience of snow, open fires, mulled wine and reindeers – is a wondrous affair that is totally different from the southern hemisphere. There, the traditions fit. Icicles sparkle and Santas looks snug. The roasting of a turkey doesn’t dehydrate the cook. In Australia, it’s hot and no one wants to be in a kitchen with the oven on. But still some insist, choosing tradition over comfort, foreign white bird over the best local seafood. Our Santas probably take a week to recover from all that sweat amongst the fake snow.
Speaking of fake snow, Christmas decorations do nothing for me. I appreciate that some people like to decorate their homes and good on them for the creative effort. But for me, a tidy person who likes her décor the way it is, decorations look messy, and the time involved in setting them up and taking them down would be better spent at the beach or in a book. I also object to using our precious earth’s resources for making short-life, tinselly frou-frou that ends up as rubbish. I wish more of those creative decorators would make their own ornaments using natural materials.
As a non-Christian (and a non-believer in Saint Nick), I see Christmas as a marketing exercise and a sham. I don’t agree with Christmas hype and dislike buying gifts simply because it’s expected. I’ll happily give a warranted and wanted gift at a time when it’s most useful or on someone’s birthday, but I see no logical reason for delaying the gift for Christmas or giving a token gift on that day.
But even more than those things, it’s the pressure of Christmas that I find offensive.
Families often find themselves stretched and stressed simply because of the focus on having everyone together on one or two days. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are like flames in a dark night, attracting every living moth from miles around. Why make our family members, especially our young people, juggle and choose and cram in visits to different but equally important parts of the family, all on one particular day? It doesn’t make sense and often results in multiple Christmas celebrations that are tokenistic or fraught with tension, or someone gets left out. If the focus on the day was removed, families could spread out and spend leisurely time together without the drama. Also without the exorbitant prices.
If I had my way, the Christmas season would simply be a festive season where families aimed to get together to celebrate life, be grateful for each other, share their love, on any day that suited them. Christians could still celebrate Jesus’s birthday and children could still be told stories about Santa. Gifts would be irrelevant, and the materialistic slant would disappear. So would the pressure and the fake snow.
We could do away with the nonsensical, annoying and stressful, and instead, experience peace, joy and goodwill. We could focus on being inclusive, kind, and generous. We could relax with family and be charitable to those without one. We could be creative, reinvent Santa and make all of us saints.