I haven’t always hated Christmas. As a child, I thought it was one of the most magical times of year… pretty lights, Santa, presents, TV specials, and snow. And I didn’t have a traumatic experience that served as a catalyst to my change of opinion, like Phoebe Cates in Gremlins with her sob story of how her dad broke his neck in the chimney while pretending to be Santa.
I just grew up and started seeing through the holiday induced fog.
So behold, my list of all of the reasons why I hate the Christmas season:
I’m an atheist. I felt like this needed to be at the top of my list, based on principle. Christmas and other Christian holidays are generally not a non-believer’s cup of tea. I mean, I could sit here and say that my evolution of religious views was the catalyst, but I’d be lying. I (mostly) happily celebrated Christmas when I was in college, and I identified as agnostic (at best) back then. And while I do realize that it’s more than a little hypocritical to celebrate Christmas as an atheist, it’s important to note that I am literally surrounded by believers. It’s difficult to check out of the holiday entirely when your family is counting on you. But I won’t pretend that I’m not a little bitter about the whole thing. Keeping my mouth shut and posing as something I’m not is no fun, even if it is for the sake of keeping the peace and maintaining that magical veil for my kids.
Commercialism/materialism. I know that many people are trying to move away from this aspect of Christmas, but this particular mindset is still impossible to avoid unless you become a hermit for two months out of the year. And if you have cable, hermit status won’t even protect you from it. Black Friday has always been bad enough, but now retail employees are having to miss Thanksgiving with their families because they’re forced to work to please the masses. People are violently busting through doors and attacking one another over the last $20 bluray player or something equally ridiculous. Again, I’m no saint. I’m guilty of waiting in line outside of Target at 3 AM to take advantage of the doorbuster deals, but not anymore. I refuse to take part in it. My family as a whole is trying to live simpler and want less. And we do the four gift rule – something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read – our way of keeping our consumption under control.
Stress. A day that should be spent enjoying the company of my family is one of the most stressful of the entire year for me. Leading up the big day, I have to plan gifts and hide gifts and wrap gifts and put up fucking decorations. I don’t enjoy any of these things. Then, on Christmas Eve night, Daniel and I have to sneak Santa’s gifts into the house ninja-style. And I don’t know why, but before Delanie’s first Christmas, I came up with the brilliant stupid idea to make Santa’s gifts look like they came straight from his workshop. No wrapping, no packaging, all put together and ready to play with. Great in theory, not so much in execution when you’re cursing as quietly as possible while you unbox and put together each thing, desperately trying not to wake your lightly sleeping children. And then, the day of, I have to clean up wrapping paper and packaging and make three kids stop playing with their new stuff long enough to get properly dressed and out the door as we head off to spend the day with our families. There is absolutely nothing fun about anything that I just mentioned. Nothing. Except that I forgot to mention that I always make sure there’s wine. That’s fun.
Cold weather. I live in the midwest, so I get to experience winter in its truest form. Granted, we occasionally have mild and snow-free Christmases, but the frigid weather is never too far behind. I don’t like cold weather. I don’t like snow. I have Raynaud’s Phenomenon… anyone out there know what that is? It’s basically a complicated way of saying poor circulation in your extremities. It is obviously at its worst during the cold months. I will go out to my van (which is parked in the garage) and my fingers will instantly turn white and numb. And it takes them approximately two days (okay, more like 1-2 hours) to return to some semblance of normal. I promise, it’s as fun as it sounds. And snow, that evil white shit that piles in my driveway, requiring me to shovel before I can leave the house. All of that alone is bad enough, but worse yet, there’s ice. I have broken my tailbone twice from falling on my ass when it’s NOT slick outside. I clearly don’t need much to make me go flying, so the addition of ice makes me extremely nervous. And in Indiana, we get a lot of ice.
Loss of a close family member. My dad always loved Christmas, so I feel the weight of his absence more heavily this time of year. I know he would be telling me to get my head out of my ass and not let him be part of the reason why I can’t enjoy the holiday season, but that’s much easier said than done. Even the happy moments are laced with sadness over the fact that he can’t be here to experience them. I’m sure that others who have lost close family members can relate to this.
So as you can see, I have a pretty solid argument against this time of year. But despite all of that, I still put up a tree and scatter various trinkets around my house. I still assist the kids in baking something for Santa and setting out carrots for the reindeer. I still go through the motions of making this holiday just as magical for my kids as it was for me, because it’s not their fault that their mom is a Grinch. Hell, I might even be worse than a Grinch… my heart isn’t likely to grow three sizes where Christmas is concerned. But as a mother, I’ve endured crazier things for less.
I don’t write this to deter others from sharing their holiday joy and spirit with the world. Go for it, it’s your holiday. But not everyone finds this time of year to be the most wonderful, as the song would suggest. And I am one of those people.