Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why I do not like Christmas

I haven't always disliked Christmas. As a kid, I loved it. I couldn't sleep and would get up long before dawn to plunder my Christmas stocking. And I was always excited to open my gifts when my mother and my older brother finally got up. But in adulthood the holiday has lost its sparkle.

When my husband and I were dating and then later when we were married, it always involved the tug and pull of at least 3 different families. Fortunately, for the first couple of years of my marriage we avoided my parents since they made it clear they disapproved of my husband. We avoided them altogether at Thanksgiving and spent as little time as could be politely managed on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas day it was the mad dash to my in-laws (if not later on Christmas Eve) and then the caravan to my father-in-law's sister's house. It's not that I didn't enjoy spending time with family (other than mine) but it was the pressure to do it ALL that I didn't like! I know others feel this way too, but it's almost taboo to say so.

Add to the pressure to be everywhere, the pressure to spend, spend, spend. The last couple of years we've scaled back our giving considerably. We've decided that rather than buy our friends and family something we're not sure they need or want, we'd spend our money on a charity and then buy our friends and family a little gift to open with a card from the charity. It became a fun challenge to find a unique gift for each person (or couple) keeping within a strict budget of $5.00-$10.00. This has worked pretty well to keep down the stress of Christmas shopping and we hope has helped people truly in need.

All in all, I've found Christmas to be a huge letdown over the years. And all the hubbub about keeping Christ in Christmas is just a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing. I'm a pretty faithful Christian, and it's pretty evident to me that Christmas as we know it and celebrate it has very little to do with Christ and his teachings; if it did, we'd be serving in soup kitchens, delivering supplies and food to the needy, and visiting the elderly in nursing homes rather than over-indulging ourselves and our children on Christmas. That would be recognizing the significance of the Incarnation. That would be putting Christ back in Christmas.