A Christmas Complaint.
I really try not to hate Christmas. Really, I do.
I would never want to begrudge another's festivities, especially if it is a meaningful and purposeful religious holiday. Or even if it is just a nice tradition for a family get-together. Whatever. I truly want to live and let live, to not judge another's choices, and to embody sympathetic joy for their happiness. BUT, I cannot help hating this holiday. Not because it is a Christian holiday, but because it seeps into absolutely everything. It is not a day, or even two - it is at least a two month slog where every restaurant, business, and office building has to have its own Christmas tree and repetitive holiday music.
Further, it bothers me that the religious festival that celebrates the birth of Christ has been co-opted for other purposes, namely marketing. Now, church attendance is just another thing to check off the do-list alongside the long list of presents to buy and wrap, pictures with Santa, and special decorations inside and out. The holiday has been overshadowed by activities that require money.
So, I am not here to meddle in the business of others, or point a finger at those just trying to have a nice celebration with their family. I guess what I really want to complain about is the incessant Christmas marketing. It is like someone just flips a switch in late fall that suddenly makes everything - food, clothing, household items, even cars - about 'preparing' for Christmas. I have been asked multiple times this 'season' if I am 'ready for Christmas' or if I have completed all my holiday shopping. My answer always depends on my mood - either yes, if I don't want to engage, or no, just to see their reaction. Perhaps it doesn't bother most, but my email also has been flooded with 'seasons greetings.' These messages are not for the purpose of sincerely wishing me well, but to get in front of my face and sell me their more of their product. What really grinds is the assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas.
FACT: Not everyone celebrates Christmas. And while it is nice to say 'happy holidays' as a nod toward tolerance to the different holidays celebrated around the world, and in different religions, it still makes a broad assumption that everyone is celebrating something this time of year. This is just not true.
I know it is strange, but my household doesn't celebrate any holidays. We are under no obligation, nor do we have a desire, to celebrate any religious festival. No, we are not Jehovah's Witness, or atheist, either. We claim no religious labels, and do not find festivals satisfying or needed in our lives. When we want to have a celebration or special meal, we just do it. When we want to give a gift, we give. We are so weird that we don't even do much for birthdays. And the world doesn't end. Go figure.
[Full disclosure: this year, I thought it would be fun to light our menorah and make latkes one night of Hanukkah. It was an interesting exercise of revisiting of old memories - some good, some not so much. Was it fun? Sure, but in this kind of weird, empty, eating-holiday type of way. Will we do it again? Probably not. We are no longer observant, and the festival holds little meaning beyond an interesting Bronze Age story. Besides, I had one heck of a time getting the cooking oil smell out of the house.]
Finally, I know my complaints of Christmas are not new, nor am I the only one complaining. Like I said, I don't hate Christmas as a religious holiday, just like I don't hold any animosity towards any other religious holiday. It's just that in its secularized form, it has been stripped of the depth and richness of a religious holiday. And then it gets shoved down our collective throats by marketers for a full two months. How can anyone not hate that?