Here’s something I’ve never told anyone: I hate Christmas. Before you ask, no I’m not a grouchy hermit who lives alone atop a mountain and no, I’m not going to dress up as Santa so I can steal everyone’s presents. I think I’ll leave that to the Grinch. But while the holiday songs, bright strings of lights and the peppermint and eggnog everything (I’m looking at you, Starbucks) makes everyone I know extra cheerful because it’s “that time of year,” I feel nothing but the huge migraine that’ll go away only when the holiday season does.
Out of all the holidays, Christmas is definitely the most stressful. Nobody judges you for simply throwing out a bowl of candy on Halloween and calling it a day or doing nothing but chilling at the beach with some friends for the fourth of July. Relaxing and most of all, easy: That’s what a holiday, A.K.A. a day of rest, is all about.
Enter Christmas. “Twelve Days of Christmas?” Try 30. It all starts with putting up the tree even before the Thanksgiving turkey is fully digested. With the tree comes lights both inside and out, followed by plastic Santas, reindeer and the whole nine yards. It’s visually pleasing but there’s a point when it just becomes too much. You don’t see people vying for the title of Best Painted Trim, so who cares about how many lights you can wrap around the poor bush in your yard? Yet if you don’t jack up your electricity bill with “festive” multi colored lights, you have no Christmas spirit.
Um, the last I checked having Christmas spirit has nothing to do with how many plastic Santas you own.
My parents recently asked what I wanted for Christmas. How am I supposed to tell them that there’s nothing I want? They’d just protest and feel guilty that they didn’t get me anything. Apparently, gifts are what Christmas is all about… not.
There’s a certain kind of pressure that comes with gifts that makes people crazy. Buy the wrong gift for someone and your relationship immediately suffers. After all, I’m supposed to know what to give all my friends since we’re so close. Yet no matter how much I can predict everything my best friend says, sometimes nothing feels right. So we try to avoid this by exchanging wish lists. That’s basically the same thing as demanding that my sister buy me the new Adele album. With all the sentiment that comes with handing someone a list, I might as well give out $20 bills because that’s how much thought and feeling went into their gift. But if we don’t exchange presents, everyone feels self centered or cheap.
And what if I don’t want to buy that random second cousin I barely know a present? Raise your hand if you’ve ever received a generic gift from someone you’ve only spoken to a handful of times. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t plaster a fake smile on your face while already planning to just stash it away somewhere. Why not avoid this and save gifting for people you’re super close to? We don’t need to exchange presents in order to be happy.
It’s not enough that we’re basically forced to buy gifts for fifty of our “closest” family and friends, but we’re also faced with countless ads urging us to make a holiday donation. Now, I have no problem with helping others–I’ve volunteered at more places than I can count. But if we don’t donate around this time of year, we’re immediately labeled as cold hearted scrooges because, after all, Christmas is about giving. Everyone feels obligated to donate–except that’s not the point. We’re supposed to want to donate to “spread the holiday spirit.” If people help the needy during the holiday season only because they feel like to have to, that makes the holiday spirit more fake than pine-scented air fresheners. They can never replace the real thing.
Christmas, a time of celebration and family, has become nothing more than a season of competition and coercion. There are so many “perfects” to achieve: baked goods, decorations, gifts and more. My family stresses out over Christmas dinner each year; just like everything else, it has to meet some ridiculous standard. But why? Just spending some time together and continuing that never-ending game of Monopoly that’s still tucked away somewhere is enough. To me, at least.
So yes: I hate Christmas and I’m not afraid to say so. Hanging out with family and friends, catching up on our busy lives and unwinding after a long year of finals, internships and research papers is what Christmas should be about. Not obsessing over the small things.
If I donate to charity, I’m going to do it because I want to, not because someone standing outside the mall swinging a bell tells me I should. I’m going to buy presents, but only because I found something truly amazing that the other person deserves. Otherwise, I’m not going give a gift just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s nothing personal–I just don’t see the point in making everybody miserable by sending out random presents that nobody will enjoy. As for decorating my house, I’ll stick to the tree and skip everything else.
Think about it: For the other 364 days of the year, people enjoy spending time with their family and friends without fancy dinners, decorations and presents. We can certainly do it on this one other day.
Maybe I really am the Grinch. But that’s just fine with me.