How can I explain my apathy towards Christmas in a way that all you yuletide-loving nutjobs will understand it?
Imagine you lived in a world where most other people were crazy in love with some pastime that just didn’t rock your boat. Gran Turismo 6 or lawn bowls or horse racing or underwater polo. Something you understand in principle but have no personal passion for. Now imagine that these people insist that you must love that thing. There must be something wrong with you if you don’t. They even call you names for not being passionate about the same thing as them.
This is how I feel about the insistence that I should love Christmas. I can’t manufacture feelings I don’t have – Christmas is just not part of who I am. Over time I have moved from a discomfort and dislike of the holiday to a general apathy about it.
Why discomfort? To say I come from a dysfunctional home would be an understatement. And Christmas is ‘all about family’ (although it seems to me, is actually all about spending money on random stuff you don’t need). Christmas made me feel like a freak as a kid. It was just one more thing that made me different – my weird family. And I don’t recall ever getting Christmas gifts from either of my parents. Maybe it happened, I just don’t remember it. Understand, I am not traumatised by this – it is just another part of my history that makes me who I am.
When my kids were younger, I had a tree and did the present thing. I didn’t want them to miss out on that magical event everyone raved about. I wasn’t especially enthusiastic, and we did less as they got older.
Now that I am married and part of a Christmas-celebrating family, I accept I need to do the Christmas Day family thing. I’m happy to spend time with these people any time they invite me around, so I participate enthusiastically in the eating of ham etc. In my mind, I’m just hanging out with my family – it has nothing to do with Jesus or Santa or whatever.
In the last few years there seems to be increased pressure from people around me to ‘stop being a grinch’, and ‘get into the spirit’. I truly and honestly don’t understand why. You don’t miss out because I’m not enthusiastic about Christmas. I’m not asking you to keep your Christmas cheer away from me. Celebrate away. I just prefer not to get so involved personally. I don’t feel any need to decorate my house and buy you gifts. Think of me as Jewish if it helps.
A note: I get a similar reaction to not celebrating my birthday, although most people are less vocal about that. It would seem it is far more offensive to not celebrate Jesus’ birthday than my own. I find you people very weird for this.