Scrooge THIS: The Five Reasons I Do Not Celebrate Christmas

Now that Christmas is over I feel free to write the blog I have felt compelled to write the entire month of December –though did not do so because I did not want to rain on anyone’s Christmas parade and harp on the negative– and then subsequently be called what I have been labeled for many years, “Scrooge,” followed with an insulting, “bah humbug.”

Our family does not celebrate Christmas–nor Chanukah, Kwanza nor any other kind of December holiday. No lights, no tree, no manger scene, no Santa, no presents, and, above all, no stress –and I love it. So what is the point in writing this blog? I am not out to change anyone’s mind, even if I could. Yet, since I get the question all the time by perplexed and surprised people as to why we do not acknowledge this holiday, I will now put my sentiments in written form and when asked the question in the future, I can simply point to my blog.

In my last entry, I explained how we are like seeds in the fields of culture and it becomes very difficult to objectively be critical of that which is literally a part of us. For many, there is no cultural practice more ingrained into our personal and collective psyche than Christmas –to question it is ludicrous and so iconoclastic as to be completely off the critical thinking table. Christmas is the untouchable sacred cow of the masses, I realize this. So, that said, I encourage you to hear my 5 reasons for not celebrating Christmas with an open mind. Again, I am not out to change anyone’s mind, rather, at the very least, promote understanding that there are legitimate and beneficial reasons for not observing the holiday –and perhaps some take it easy on those of us who choose the Christmas avoidance route and understand we are not awful people, ie. Scrooge.

1. Christmas is great for the economy though very dangerous for the soul.

I believe we all would agree that for the great majority Christmas is about gift giving. At its face, gift giving is a wonderful and edifying practice that nourishes the soul. Yet when we culturally mandate compulsory gift giving, it sucks the spirit and heart right out of the practice; frenzied, tit-for-tat gift exchanges zap any genuine life right out of the otherwise healthy custom.  Our shopping malls turn into crowded, soulless bastions of bargain shoppers robotically hunting for the best deals after they have fought tirelessly for a parking spot –only to typically purchase crap that no one really needs. But, hey, this comes from a guy who believes a part of his soul dies every time he waits in line at a Wal-Mart. I love meaningful and relevant gift giving, yet it means so much more when it comes at unexpected times, motivated by none other than love. I realize not every activity in life will feed the soul, though it is important to avoid activities that will drain it.

2. It goes against the goal of living an emotionally balanced and healthy life.

Things are never as good, or bad, as we think they are.  Perhaps I am only speaking from personal experience, though I have found that whenever we get too emotionally high we can expect a crash landing into the emotional lows of life shortly thereafter.  If we were to compare holidays to drugs, Christmas would the crystal meth…on steroids. “The most wonderful time of the year” is frequently the emotional peak time of the year for many.  I do not blame Christmas and the holidays for depression (contrary to popular belief, depression and suicide rates are not higher during the holiday season; they are highest in Spring time) rather I am suggesting it certainly does not help those of us in the quest of living a life void of major high/low swings. Observing the Christmas holiday contributes to a ‘bipolaresque’ type of up-and-down existence as it embodies the manic stage -at least it did for me.

3. It sends the wrong message to children.

I believe we all know this and acknowledge it -we even make movies about this phenomenon, I am thinking “Jingle All They Way” among others. Like the insane person who never learns from her mistake, we continue to engage in creating spoiled, entitled and materialistic children, instructing them to write letters explaining everything they want to a fictional figure. Can I be blunt? That is just plain fucked up. Why are we messing with our children’s minds in such a way? Is this not a mild form of abuse? I realize culture is so ingrained in us that it is often difficult to be critical of it, yet if one can stand back and objectively observe this practice, just for a moment, it is just wrong; I, for one, do not want to perpetuate this practice. The practice of Christmas teaches children that, above all, we are soulless consumers first and foremost.  When will the consumerist madness stop? We buy things we do not need for the things we do not need. Christmas teaches children we should strive for what we want –not what we need. Christmas has become much more a venture capitalist holiday than a spiritual one.

4. The entire Christmas narrative of Santa, elves, the North Pole, etc…is a lie.

no-christmas-yetMost theological scholars would even agree that December 25 is not the birth date of Jesus. Please understand that I am all for cultural myth and ritual. Totally. Myth plays an important part in the process of understanding ourselves and the human condition…but call it for what it is, MYTH. Can anyone explain why we take a perfectly healthy tree, cut it down and bring it into our house?  I didn’t think so. What is the lesson from myth we can learn from this practice? In the case of Christmas, we blatantly lie about the whole thing. I told our children from the moment they could understand my words that Santa is a lie…that simple. People can go to jail for lying yet we encourage it toward our most vulnerable and gullible of society…and for what reason? I am all down for lies that might protect someone from hurt, yet we perpetually, albeit innocently and with good intentions, lie with the outcome of creating false expectations as we set children up for disappointment at some level.

5. It trivializes and demeans Christian-based religious faiths.

When I used to be a pastor many moons ago, I despised Christmas (which may explain, in part, why I was such a shitty pastor) much more than I do now –presently, I essentially just forget about it altogether.  I could never speak for, or on behalf of God, Jesus, Tom Cruise, Mohammed, or any other deity-like figure, yet, something inside me believes even Jesus himself would condemn the practice of Christmas –for all the ethical reasons I have mentioned.

I collect Jesus junk. Thus far I have Jesus duct tape, a Jesus action figure, Jesus T-shirts, socks, etc… I do this as a reminder how our culture has taken that which is to be sacred, revered and honored and morphed these entities into unholy and profane trivial commodities. Christmas, as we practice it today, trivializes the holiness and reverence of a religion’s most sacred event.  I used to find this disturbing yet today I find this more amusing -as these things act as a constant reminder of the culture I am dealing with on a daily basis.

So these are the five reasons why I choose not to celebrate Christmas. Agree with me or not, I have arrived at these conclusions through analysis and reasoned observation. In fact, I am quite certain many of you agree with me –at least in part on some things. Then, why is it when someone asks me about Christmas and I explain these things, I am then insulted for my calculated decision? Scrooge was not calculated, he was just an asshole. Contrary to some people’s opinion, I am not an asshole. I choose not to partake in the, what I respectfully believe to be, irrational, materialistic, unspiritual endeavor and I get questioned? Our culture has done a really good job of creating this illusion –to the point that the free thinking ones, not taken in by the smoke and mirrors of the holiday, get criticized for their sane and logical conclusions. Again, I am not out to change anyone’s mind, even if I could, but please do not disparage those of us who do not see this holiday as you might see it.

I am very proud to proclaim we have raised four very strong, independent, passionate and free thinking children who all have a very different take on Christmas today. They not only survived an, essentially, Christmas-less upbringing, they have thrived. We all live life to the very fullest.

I guess I just rained on the Christmas parade. Not to worry. You have nearly an entire year to recover.

jimmysintension

21 Comments

  1. Celebrating Jesus being born in the winter in a barn on December 25 takes care of the pagan solstice (and corresponding deities) celebration Caesar Whoever was trying to rid his culture of as he adapted Christianity. So essentially, Jesus was just another form of the same Buddha, Mohammed, enlightened deity-on-earth, a new evolution of a collectively repeated symbol of what we can achieve in our lives when we surrender our ego and remember that the divine is pure flowing of energy, no restrictions. That makes him just all right with me. Jesus is just all right, oh yeah.

  2. Jordan…I don’t care what they may say, I don’t care what they may do
    I don’t care what they may say, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah…but Christmas sucks. I think this is your first ever comment on my blog. Thank you. Your wisdom and intelligence is always deeply appreciated.

  3. As I read your blog today I just wondered whether your parents celebrated Christmas when you were young. At what age did you discover the truth about Christmas histeria?

    • Thanks for your reply Don. My family of origin celebrated Christmas to the fullest -presents, trees, lights, fake Santa on the lawn, the whole nine yards. It was probably around late high school/early college years that I realized it was all bullshit. Though, like most traditions in life, the rubber meets the road when you have kids of your own. I realized at that time my decision to not celebrate Christmas had to do with more than just myself. I, essentially, stuck to my guns even when my small children looked me in the eye and begged me for a tree. That was rough -but it all has paid off.

  4. I don’t celebrate Christmas, either. There are rarely any holidays I do celebrate and I received quite a few of the same odd looks or misconceptions from people.

    Simply put, I’ve never understood or felt compelled to observe an event I do not culturally identify with. You’ve covered many of the reasons that I share about Christmas, but I also think of holidays like Thanksgiving or the 4th of July which have little relevance in our daily lives. Patriotism has been ironic with my generation and we use the 4th as an excuse to be arrogant, drunk, and blow shit up. Oh, patriotism! And then Thanksgiving where we attempt to be civil for an afternoon of indulgence, only to wait in lines later that evening to hoard possessions at midnight from major retail outlets.

    I feel holidays bring out the worst in people.

    • Thanks Lou. I do not have the same negative connotations with the other holidays. Why? Remember Neal Postman, ie, Amusing Ourselves To Death? He wrote, “The best thing on television is its junk.” Why? Because it does not pretend to be something more than what it is. Christmas is equivalent to educational TV. It presents itself to be something other than what it is. Christmas masquerades as spiritual, holy, and special…when, in reality, it is a capital venture to get us to buy shit. Let’s just call it what it is. I am good with Thanksgiving and the 4th because (arguably) they do not portray anything other than what they are. But, hey, I feel ya. To make a big deal about any of these things is counterproductive.

  5. To speak to your third point, Christmas also creates an expectation for children that they will receive a gift, that they are entitled to gifts. When I was about 2, my family and I visited my grandmother and I asked her what she had for me. This Christmas my 8 year old sister counted all of her presents under the tree. In both situations, my parents corrected our behaviors, but the point it that the commercialization of Christmas and gift-giving produces, primarily for children (and eventually adults), an undue expectation of deservedness that I can not stand. As always, your perspective has got me thinking about things differently than I ever have.

    • Holliann…I think we have all been there. I did the same entitled behavior as a child. Thank you for your kind words! We need to get together and discuss your college experiences…you have me so curious.

      • Dang it! I leave tomorrow morning to go back to Provo! You are definitely someone I’ve been wanting to run my whole “religious experience” by. 🙁

  6. “(contrary to popular belief, depression and suicide rates are not higher during the holiday season; they are highest in Spring time)”

    plz cite your source

  7. I have to disagree with you here. My mother has always told us that life is what you make it, and if this is how you experience Christmas, then this is how you’re making it. My family makes Christmas a time to slow down and think about how much you love those closest to you. Each of my family members spend time thinking of something thoughtful that we really enjoy giving to each other. We are more excited for others to open our gifts than we are to open our own. We leave what everyone else does or makes Christmas behind and make it a special time of year that reminds us to appreciate and love each other because we often forget to throughout the rest of the year. Should we all appreciate and love each other year round? Absolutely! But there’s a reason the saying “stop and smell the roses” is famous, and is it so bad that Christmas is our reminder to do that? So instead of making Christmas into this evil holiday for your children, you could have used it as an opportunity to teach them that everyone makes their own choices, and you choose to celebrate this holiday in a positive, loving way. Just my thoughts on the matter.

  8. I agree with a lot of what you have to say here. When my 5 year old daughter asked me about Santa, I felt guilty and pressured into lying to her about it and it doesn’t feel right. My sister thought i was crazy when i explained how Santa and the elves is just a story that people tell their children to make Christmas interesting but that it is mostly made up by corporations that want to profit from it. My sister about freaked out when i was telling my daughter this. I told my daughter that i didn’t feel right lying to her about it. I do not really buy my daughter gifts for anything. On her birthday and for Christmas we try and do things like get a big pizza and share it with the homeless people that are walking around Redlands. Or i have even gotten some fast food bucks and handed them out… I have only bought my daughter one toy and it was a 3D molecule/ atom ball. Anyhow, I don’t agree with cutting down these beautiful living trees for our visual gain then toss them out once they die… How about planting a tree every Christmas and feeding the homeless… That is a Christmas worth celebrating! … Thanks for sharing.

  9. ps… How do i get a picture with my name? Right now i just look like a cutout.

  10. I don’t care what most people think of Christmas. Late December is one of the only times a year that people in my family are not working, and it is a chance for all of us to spend time together. Christmas is only a commercial holiday if you relate to it that way. When I celebrate Christmas with my family we do not feel obligated to give gifts to each other. It is just nice that we all get to see each other. My parents did not lie to me about Santa when I was a child. I have always thought of Santa Claus as being a mascot and nothing more. I have never experienced emotional highs and lows during the holiday season. National holidays are entirely what you make of them. Christmas is only a religious holiday if you relate to it that way. Why should me and my family stop celebrating Christmas since it has never been about the commercial or religious aspects to us?

    • Thanks Harley! Kudos to you and your family for your ability to take it for what it is worth and not get all caught up in the bullshit of it all. Morally speaking, I just prefer not to contribute to the overall madness of the holiday.

  11. Jimmy, I agree with you that Christmas has gotten totally out of control in this country, and has become commercialized and trivial on many levels. But you are looking at it from the view of an adult putting on the show. Yes, it’s a farce, but what a great time for the kids! Granted, I have not really celebrated Christmas in years, mostly because I don’t have kids and what’s the point otherwise to participate in the madness? I agree with you that Christmas is incredibly stressful. But the thing is, that I really MISS Christmas, at least the way it used to be when I was a kid. There was never anything more exciting that all those presents and all that wonderful food, family getting together…the anticipation of the event, the Christmas vacation; just the whole holiday package. Some illusions are beautiful. Life becomes reality all too quickly as we grow up, so why not experience the magic as kids, before the veil of awareness has been removed and we are still able to suspend our disbelief?

  12. Ok Professor,
    So after a few weeks of trying to decide which blog post I was going
    to make a very poor attempt to argue with you about, I stumbled upon
    this one and decided what a perfect time of year to address this! Ok
    so first off….I completely disagree (that is the point of this
    assignment anyway). For me and my upbringing, Christmas was not just a
    time about getting things from a jolly old fat man, but it was a time
    to spend time with my family and partake in several different
    traditions. Some as simple as drinking hot chocolate and watching home
    videos. If my parents would have told me one year that we would not
    get gifts, I would not be devastated at that idea. However, I would
    hope that we still would be able to bake cookies together. When I was
    young and obviously had no source of income, I would take so much
    pride in the little crafts that we made at school. These were not
    materialistic items. One year it was a dirty pinecone with beads stuck
    to it. Woo-hoo. But my mom still to this day has that ratty old thing
    and puts it up with her decorations every year. In my adult life, I
    genuinely love the whole Christmas thing. I will say that I agree with
    you about the shopping malls becoming a breeding ground for assholes
    just looking to score the best deal. But, that’s the great thing about
    online shopping! NO lines! Anyway, once I became a parent a whole new
    world to Christmas was opened. Although the first couple of years of
    my daughter’s life Christmas was kinda a not so big deal and she was
    more interested in the wrapping paper than she was the gifts, this
    past year and this upcoming holiday are so exciting. We just put the
    tree up this past weekend (and it’s a fake tree so no real trees were
    harmed in this holiday), and she was so happy to do so that every
    night she gives that thing a hug and says goodnight. The pure
    innocence and joy that I get to witness in her eyes is literally one
    of the best feelings as a parent ever. So although I totally and
    completely respect your beliefs and ideas, I do disagree. I don’t
    think that telling a story about a happy old man that brings present
    is any form of “mild abuse” as you say. I don’t think that doing this
    is stunting her growth as a realistic human being for the future
    either. I grew up believing in Santa and even stayed up late to set
    traps for him and I turned out a perfect (ok not perfect but somewhat
    functional) human being, sans any emotional stunting.

    • Well Emily, as they say, we can agree to disagree. I do think lying to children is pretty fucked up. As for the “look how I turned out” argument, that is an impossible one to make because we can never know the “sans” Christmas Emily. You might have been the first woman president…who knows? Thank you for the contribution!

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