So I’ve made a few bigger decisions this week– based on thoughts I’ve held for a long time. I’ve gone back and forth for a while now about whether I should actually talk about this idea and topic here. I mean, there are a lot of topics I won’t discuss here– or in general. I like to stick to easy, non-confrontational conversations, ya know? Anyway, I guess I should start this by saying that I’m in no way trying to upset or offend people– I’m just spilling my personal life-thoughts here, you know, like I typically do.
We’ve already made our own steps and efforts to create a christmas that would work for our family. Our tree was our first move this year. And it absolutely helped, but it wasn’t enough. Alex and I opted not to gift each other presents this year, which was also nice, but brought about a whole other issue: a question from Marlowe to “why do you and daddy not have presents? just me?” — We obviously didn’t think that one through. We’ve kept our tradition with pizza Christmas, which was great, but again, it didn’t fix the problems that I feel with extra gifts, sales, and just general things that Christmas will indisputably bring.
You know, I don’t think Christmas is a bad thing. I love the idea behind it. But I do feel like the focus from the meaning has shifted and continues to shift. For me, I don’t like the consumerism culture that we’re wrapped in. And maybe, me being here on internet land, it seems even more clear— but the feeling of buy buy buy sell sell sell that exists (always, but especially) around the holidays really bugs me. I find problems in the quantity over quality norm. And you know, it’s not that I think presents are a bad thing, I don’t. But it’s just that— now with black friday, actually starting on thursday, a day we’re supposed to sit with our loved ones and be thankful for what surrounds us, we’re losing more and more of the moments for reflection and family. I don’t know what sales are happening or how long they’ll go on for and I don’t really care. Not for one minute do I want to think or preoccupy my passing family time with the feelings of what thing I need/should buy.
Will there still be gifts around us for the holidays? I’m sure there will be, but for my home, we now plan to opt out. Yes, we made the decision for each other as a couple this year, but I look forward to making that action for Marlowe as well. Do I feel like she will be missing out not unwrapping presents at Christmas in our home? No. Not everyone celebrates Christmas– sure many do, but she won’t be the only child in the world without a Christmas tree or a fat man coming. And more than anything, I feel confident in this decision for her. Because every single night around one or two AM, I make my way into her bedroom, remove the pile of books that have accumulated on top of her, and pull her comforter over her, tucking her bedding in tight. And every single night, without fail, she smiles in her sleep… and I smile too. She’s happy. Really happy. She has a good life and it’s apparent in her mood everyday and her sleepy smile every night. A present under a tree doesn’t give her that smile, our happy home and presence does.
We plan to celebrate outside our home, just like we would for any other holiday with friends. The same way I love celebrating passover with Laura’s family even though I’m not Jewish or the same way I’ll wish my mother a happy Easter, even though I’m not Christian. We’ll gracefully continue celebrating the meaningful moments with others during the holiday season.
It’s just that, if you strip the presents idea away from Christmas, the only real ‘reason for the season’ is Christ. Personally, I don’t hold these beliefs. I grew up with these ideas. And yes, as an angsty teenager I would even say I was against many these ideas, but now I can comfortably say, I understand those beliefs, I’m okay with those beliefs. I can see value in those beliefs, but they are just not for me. If Christ can bring the values of love, kindness, and selfless giving out in others, then I’m a big supporter in Christ and Christmas. But for me, without the real (birth of Christ) meaning of christmas, I’m left with presents that I don’t feel my family needs. And without presents, I’m left with Christ. And so what am I left with? Well, a guess I’m left with an understanding that I’m finally comfortable enough to say: I don’t want to do Christmas in our home anymore, and I feel okay with this. Because if you strip away those things, then I’m left with my family: my real reason to rejoice in the season— any season. And lucky for me, I celebrate my family every single day, no pre-determined marking on a calendar or wrapped up gift will change, waiver, or enhance the way I feel about my family or the people in my life.