Warning: Do not read if you are under 12 years old. And this is just a written account on my thoughts, not what others should believe.
Christmas is almost upon us and the old uncomfortable feeling returns. Although, I have happy thoughts and fond memories of Christmas past, I still can’t quite grasp Christmas as my favourite holiday and there are a number of reasons why. A lot of the time, I feel like a traitor and an outcast from society for thinking like this, but that’s just the way I am. I can’t help but question what traditions really mean and how they should be part of my life. Sometimes I feel really bad for wanting to reinvent them and trapped because I can’t.
Christmas feels like one big confusing hassle, and this is the general feeling I get from most people I speak to lately. There’s the running around to buy presents, dress the tree, hang the lights, shop for all the food, and then slave over the kitchen the day Christmas arrives. It is such a busy day with people running here there and everywhere, to catch up with people on different family sides. Most of the time I just want to sit, eat and drink and talk, but there’s too many people I want to do that with so it’s rush rush rush. Christmas doesn’t have that relaxed vibe for me and I feel lost in the consumerism and hassle of it all.
And there’s the fact that I gave up religion a long time ago, so I don’t feel all that comfortable about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, even though he scarce gets a mention anymore. It leaves me scratching my head and wondering just what all this is for? I find it hard to get behind something, if I don’t understand why I should get behind it and if I’m not really celebrating what its really meant to be about.
Now that we have Kalyra, I’m injecting more enthusiasm for her sake and sometimes I feel like such a bad mother for not baking Christmas tree cookies with her (although we did make a really cool 12 days of Christmas handprint tree together.)
And I can’t help but secretly be glad when she is too scared to go near Santa. Personally, I think she’s smart. Who wouldn’t be scared of a big strange man in a red suit, with a cotton wool beard, whose favourite word is Ho Ho Ho, and wants you to sit on his lap and divulge if you’ve been naughty or nice, and then tell him all your secret dreams and desires? I’m scared of him. And if she doesn’t want to go near him then I can pretend he doesn’t exist, like he really doesn’t.
I don’t have a great relationship with Santa. Firstly, I’m still mad at him from when I was 7 and I asked him for that special Princess Barbie I saw in the Kmart catalogue. I crossed my fingers, wrote him letters, was a good girl all year long, sat on his lap and whispered in his ear, and still on Christmas morning I got a “Doll of the World,”, or something like that. I mean, why didn’t he just tell me they sold out of them in the store and maybe I wouldn’t have spent the next twenty years of my life believing that I just wasn’t good enough, or never got what I asked for?
And secondly, a student asked me the other day, “How come some kids don’t get any presents for Christmas? Doesn’t Santa like them?” Well, Santa? Can you answer that one please, because I’m kind of struggling? I worry about the impact this might have on a young child and their feelings of self-worth. I’m torn between letting my child believe in this wrong ideal and later hating me for lying to her when she finds out the truth, or by letting her know the truth and destroying the magic of Christmas for her, not to mention me having to feel the wrath of society because of it. How do I balance this out? Are there any ideas out there?
And then there is the whole gift giving thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like giving gifts, I just hate how that becomes the focus of Christmas. Every Christmas, I spend days trying to come up with things I want to put on the Christmas list, so others can buy me (sometimes with money they don’t have), something I don’t really want or need. I just can’t handle it. No No No. Please don’t. Not for me. I don’t want anything.
And to be honest, I don’t really want to get into debt buying presents that someone has put on their list just for the sake of putting something on their list. I’d rather get into debt over birthday presents, as that is something I really believe in- the celebration of a life of someone I know and love. And I know that not everyone has financial struggles, so spending money on presents is not an issue, and perhaps I might feel differently if I had loads of money to spend. I just know so many who don’t and Christmas becomes a great big burden because of it.
Some one mentioned to me the other day, how in their family, they select two names out of a hat, and you only buy presents for each person, that way everyone gets a gift and no one has to over buy or over spend. I liked that idea. Simple, giving, not too focused on commercialism. Actually, one Christmas in London, we all had a 10 pound limit to buy a gift and then we played pass the parcel. Every one got a gift and we had so much fun handing them out and discovering what each person received.
I guess I can blame travel for it in some respects. I’ve learned to live a minimalist lifestyle, always focusing on what I need and not what I want. And by removing so much stuff in my life, I’ve been more able to focus on the memories created with each moment, which is why I want Christmas to be just about coming together and having a great time, not what lies beneath the Christmas wrapping that eventually fades, or breaks, or gets lost under the bed. I don’t want anyone to feel pressured, stressed out, or fatigued under the strain of the major production Christmas can be. I’d be happy to wrap everyone I love up in my sack, pop them on my sleigh and whiz to the nearest beach resort, so we can all just relax and have a magical time. Magic of our own creation.
My happiest memories of Christmas have been of the joy that came with celebrating with each other. So for this year I’m going to plan for and get excited about that kind of a day. It is our first Christmas at home in a couple of years. This Saturday, we are going to listen to the Carols in the Domain with family and Kalyra can have fun playing with her cousins singing Christmas carols. My sister will be visiting from Perth, who I have only seen once since Kalyra was born, and I can laugh with her and my older sister and her boys, who I haven’t had spent a lot of time with since we returned. And I am hoping that my brother, Stilts, will make a surprise appearance. Our last Christmas together as a complete family was in ’99 and that was one of my favourites.
Even though my questions are up in the air about Santa and the over consumerism of Christmas, I am going to put that out of my mind. My sister-in-law, Vanessa, helped me to feel a little more excited about the magic of Santa this afternoon and made me think that perhaps its not such a bad idea. I’ll help Kalyra leave a beer out for Santa and then I’ll let him fill the sacks at night until I can figure out what to do.
In reality, Christmas can be how I choose it to be. And I choose it to be a fun day spent with my family with much laughter and joy.
What are your thoughts on Christmas? Love it, hate it? Has travel changed your views on it?