To celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas? That is the question I began asking myself when I had the experience I described in this post. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you click the above link and scan through it so you know where I’m coming from here and now.
If you did read the post, you might be wondering what our ultimate decision was regarding the celebration of Christmas. Here’s a hint: I did not write a “merry Christmas” post.
Yep, you got it. We decided to stick with our decision from two years ago.
Does that make us Grinches? Are we cruel parents for not giving our son the experience of getting wildly excited every December 24?
Feel free to judge us. Most Westerners who come from the Christian faith – and many who do not – don’t get people who don’t celebrate Christmas, and put all kinds of labels on them.
I know, because I used to be like that. My jaw would drop to the floor if I ever heard of a non-Jewish or non-Jehovah’s Witness (who don’t celebrate anything) who didn’t “do Christmas.”
For the three of you whom I haven’t completely offended and who are genuinely interested in knowing our reasons for avoiding this most beloved of all holidays, feel free to continue reading.
Why we quit Christmas
#1: The original reason was – drum roll please – the commercialism.
“But you can celebrate Christmas without getting commercial!”
Really? So, you don’t buy a tree. You don’t buy decorations for the tree, or materials to make your own decorations. You don’t buy garland for the fireplace mantel or stair rail, or a wreath for your front door. You don’t buy and send Christmas cards. You don’t buy gifts. You don’t spend a bunch of money on food you normally don’t eat.
You most certainly don’t participate in the annual front-lawn decoration ritual in an attempt to make your lawn at least as pretty and sparkly as your neighbor’s.
And what about all those holiday movies and music that you own? Sorry to burst your bubble, but the people who produced the movies and recorded the music were hoping to make a buck from them.
If you want to remove the commercialism from Christmas, you remove all of those traditions. What’s left of the celebration?
And let me tell you, if you’re a parent, despite your best efforts to teach your children that Christmas is not about the gifts, if you give them so much as one special toy every December twenty-fifth, by the time they’re four years old they’ll have figured out the gig. And they will become greedy every late fall, and have trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve night due to their excitement over gaining more stuff.
And particular woe to the parent who lies to their kids about the fat guy in the red suit!
#2: It’s not about Jesus.
I tried for years telling myself that Christmas was all about celebrating Jesus’ birth, even though I knew darn good and well He wasn’t born anywhere near December 25. Jesus was born either in the spring or early to mid-autumn, not in the winter. Jesus told His disciples to remember His death, not His birth. Jesus is not the reason for the season.
Was His birth important? To an extent. He had to be born as a human to reintroduce us to our heavenly Father, right? But He never talked about His birth.
Which leads me to…
#3: Traditional Christmas celebrations are full of pagan rituals.
Why? The institutional church invented the holiday to counter the pagan practice of celebrating the winter solstice. So they took all those pagan practices and tacked artificial spiritual meanings to them.
“Big deal,” you say. “Doesn’t mean I’m worshiping Satan or anything.”
Maybe not. But it also doesn’t mean you’re worshiping God. If you’re going to celebrate the holiday, at least don’t rationalize it with a false sense of spirituality or holiness.
#4: Christmas is full of disappointment and stress.
“Why did she give me X when I asked for Y?”
“Not another Christmas party!”
“What the BLEEP should I get so-and-so for Christmas?!”
“I won’t be able to pay off my January credit card bill!”
“So-and-so bought me a gift, but I didn’t get him anything! Now I need to run to the store and figure out something and Christmas is two days away!”
“So-and-so didn’t like the present I gave her.”
So far, I haven’t given any reasons that are different from anybody else who has written an online article about “why I don’t celebrate Christmas.” Maybe you’re looking for one.
Okay, I’ll oblige. Here goes:
#5. Mainstream society has dictated the holiday.
For the most part, my family doesn’t follow mainstream society. We don’t have any debt, not even a mortgage. We retired in our early forties. We eat a high raw, whole-foods, plant-based diet…and therefore look and feel much healthier than most other people our age.
Although we are believers, we are not part of the institutional church. Our son’s education consists of living life (referred to by many as “unschooling”). The three of us live happily in under 600 square feet.
I could go on, but you get my drift.
We had already given up Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day because trying to live up to the culturally dictated expectations of each holiday was stressful, and increasingly felt more artificial.
Not to mention that two of the above-mentioned holidays involve unhealthy eating.
Christmas was the last, simply because it had been both my and J’s favorite holiday as children. But we finally realized that it, too, felt artificial. Forced.
Every day is a day for celebration
We finally came to realize that celebrating life on a daily basis is much more enjoyable, and with none of the stress. We celebrate by having fun together. We celebrate by engrossing ourselves in the hobbies we love. We celebrate by watching silly videos together.
I’m done grieving the loss of my childhood. In actual fact, I never really lost anything. Instead, I’ve gained a lot of wisdom and experience and a new set of memories.
Far be it from me to “should” on you. If you’re an extrovert who loves to cook and bake and have a bunch of people over for a party, go ahead and take advantage of the fact that you (and most of your friends and family) have December 25 off from work and throw a big party.
If your family loves to get together to watch football, go ahead and use Christmas as an excuse to do so. Whatever.
I’m not going to tell you to stop celebrating Christmas just because we have. I don’t think you’re evil or inferior if you do. It’s hard to let go of a tradition that is as ingrained in our culture as the Christmas celebration, especially one that, for many – if not most – of its celebrators contains so many warm, beautiful memories.
My family has simply chosen to view every day of life worthy of creating warm, beautiful memories – and not to call one day holier or more beautiful than another.
However, if the Christmas season has seemed more and more artificial and stressful to you, and less like a real celebration, may I suggest that you do some thinking and re-prioritizing. May I remind you that there is no law forcing you to observe the holiday.
P.S. – Don’t feel sorry for our son. He gets plenty excited just before his birthday and half-birthday, because of the gifts he receives on those days.
But in case you’re wondering, yeah, if I had to do it over again, he would never have received a gift on his birthday.
Grinch? Maybe. Minimalist mom who struggles to teach her son about the evils of materialism and consumerism?