Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Christmas and Other Holidays

I don't celebrate Christmas.

Now, I don't mind if you do. I don't think there's anything innately wrong with celebrating Christmas, exactly. I don't care for it's often celebrated—hey, let's be obligated to give everyone presents so I'm harried and stressed and don't want to mess with giving them anything when it isn't Christmas—but I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

My reason for not celebrating stems from the details that 1. There's no command in Scripture to celebrate Christ's birth (which, as a Christian, is really the cincher for why I'm free to not celebrate) and 2. The holiday as commonly celebrated is just an excuse to not do nice things for folks at other times—because, yanno, you already got them something—that or you're having to get started on next Christmas.

I actually have times when my friends refuse to accept things I've gotten for them, because I've already given them so much that [time period]. (But as a pertinent note: I'm perfectly capable of putting my foot down if someone tries taking advantage of me.)

As a result, the holidays get awkward. Everyone asks, "Are you ready for the holidays?" or "Get all your gifts yet?" or "Looking forward to Christmas?"

My options:

  1. Get in a short (and not always appropriate at the time) conversation mentioning that I don't celebrate (and risking the other person thinking me offended).
  2. Give a demure, polite answer that lets them assume I celebrate (and possibly coming across as a goody-goody, because who says yes, they're ready for the holidays?) and strikes me as uncomfortably close to a lie?

Add in the detail that I'm Christian, and I not infrequently get "O.O You don't celebrate?" even from fellow Christians.

And then there's the risk in getting folks all riled up about how I should be celebrating Christmas, and it's wrong of me to not celebrate Christ's birth. >_> That one happens sometimes, too.

Now, Easter—that I celebrate. As in, I celebrate Christ's resurrection and avoid the eggs and chicks and bunnies of the pagan fertility celebrations.

But that's my choice of what holidays I celebrate and how. You have your own choices.

We all have a right to celebrate the holidays we want, the way we want to, and to not celebrate other holidays.

And those choices need not reflect common cultural stereotypes.

Not for me. Not for you. Not for our friends. Not for our characters (for those of us who write fiction).

Believe it or not, your choice need not even reflect that of your family. My extended family all celebrates Christmas and other holidays I don't.

Some friends and family know I don't celebrate and they still feel obligated to give me a gift. I suspect that rather illustrates how twisted this holiday is. It's presumably a celebration of family or of Christ's birth, so why should anyone feel obligated to give gifts? It doesn't make sense to me.

But that's me. I regularly break social taboos because they don't make sense to me and therefore can never remember them until after I break them. (•Never tell how much a gift cost! —Er, not even when it's something the recipient'll want to buy more of for themselves? •Never tell someone her hair's a mess! —Er, but I'd want them to tell me… •Never talk about how much you make. —Er, what if you're in a pertinent conversation with folks who have business sense and therefore understand that increased responsibility and stress should equal greater pay?)

So I suspect I'm breaking some other social taboos (at least for some folks, since politeness is relative) when I tell such self-obligated friends: "You can give me something if you want, but I won't be giving you a Christmas present back."

And then I don't.

And funny thing I've noticed: Most of the folks who feel obligated to give me something lose that feeling after a few years of unreciprocated gift-giving. Makes me wonder if selfishness is what's at the heart of all the "obligatory" gift-giving, because if you get things for a bunch of folks, then a bunch of folks should return the favor.

Now, some folks just like giving gifts and use Christmas for an excuse for that. As long as those folks aren't hurting their own bank accounts to do so—which some of them do—that's different from the "obligatory" gift-giving.

At any rate, it illustrates that not all of us celebrate (or neglect to celebrate) holidays for the same reasons.

What do you think of the idea of not celebrating Christmas? Are there any culturally popular holidays that you don't celebrate? Do folks try to make you feel guilty


P.S. "Of Her Own", a short story covering how Lallie met Silva, has a new cover and a new price (at least, in those places where I was able to drop it). Feel free to check it out!

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