I was talking with a friend today about our feelings toward Christmas.
She observed that most people she knows claim either to love it or to hate it. Some take special joy and comfort in the trappings of the season. Others carry them as a weight, fraught with negative associations, something more to be endured than enjoyed. (A few try to ignore the holiday altogether.)
My friend found it refreshing that i don’t have strong feelings about the season in either of those two common directions. What i do take from it, i take quietly.
When my children were little i delighted in making the season delightful for them – more because of people than things, though. There was no worry about them discovering the ‘truth’ about Santa, because in our family he was always a winked-at fiction — like being ‘in’ on an inside joke.
Now that they are adults, we are all on the same page as to the centrality of spending time together in as relaxed a way as possible. Gifts may or may not be involved — no strings there. They have other friends and family they visit, and i aim to make their time at my home the least pressured stop they make around the holidays.
They are well aware of a couple of issues i do take with the season, which are not unique to me. The first is the fostering of consumerism, the mentality pushed by advertisers that things will make one happy. (I say, if you must take your children to see a Santa, how about teaching them to ask for a gift for their friend or for a less fortunate child.)
I realize many people emphasize their faith as a way of countering the focus on ‘stuff’ — which touches on the second issue for me. The religious aspect isn’t part of my Christmas experience either. As someone who doesn’t share the christian faith, i am still glad, however, for that positive impulse arising from it.
The notion of a creator stepping into that very creation in total vulnerability is a startling and appealing one. It can encourage us to celebrate connection.
And wherever we find ourselves as to our outlook on the season, the story can also spur us toward caring for the vulnerable in our own neighborhood and in our world.
Refreshing all around. Thank you for your beautifully formed thoughts.
Oh, thank you so much, Kris!
lovely post and thoughts on this important time of year.
Thank you, Cybele!
always glad to make a new friend!
While Christmas sucks, with hustle-and-bustle, consumerism, and gifting stress, I hold fondly the magical feelings I experienced as a church-raised youth. Something about the trees, lights, ornaments, and fireplaces of the cozy homes and church Christmas programs created the magic. I don’t think the religion was necessary to create the magic, but it was inseparable for me.
But there’s a dark side of emotions for me. As you mentioned, some carry a weight fraught with negative associations. The depression can easily envelop me, but it’s not just about Christmas. It’s also about how clearly Christmas defines the end of another year; another step further from the childhood magic; another step toward losing loved ones; another step toward leaving this wonderful life.
So, Christmas = Death.
Thank you for your acerbic, insightful and heartfelt perspective, Jamison!
I don’t hate Christmas, but I don’t love it. No tree or decorations or presents. I do enjoy using it as an excuse to get together with friends.
Sounds good to me… 🙂
I applaud your calm and moderate approach to Xmas in general and the Santa Claus myth in particular. My in-laws were the opposite when my wife was a child. They encouraged her and her brother to believe that Santa brought the decorated tree as well as the presents, so they were stuck with a big job after the kids went to bed on 12-24. Of course, the kids were up and eager early on 12-25, so the parents were groggy and grouchy all day. Eventually the kids outgrew the myth, but Xmas remained an ordeal of frenzied gifting and dreary plane rides (or long drives with bad road conditions).
Tho I do not subscribe to any religious doctrines, I am aware that the Winter Solstice has been a big deal ever since Neolithic times. Rightly so. I put up some tasteful decorations, play my old CD-s of glorious Xmas music, and dig a little deeper for some worthy causes.
Thanks for your comments. Sounds like we are in similar places on this topic. To me, it’s disappointing when the word ‘frenzied’ applies to what is supposed to be a heartwarming time.