I Don’t do Christmas Anymore

I’ve taken a strong and unpopular stance regarding Christmas.

I don’t do it!

When I say I don’t do it, I mean I don’t give gifts, I don’t put up decorations, I don’t send cards, I don’t get gifts, and most of all I don’t run around like a fool trying to make magic happen….anymore.

I’m strong in my belief that Christmas has turned into something I don’t want anything to do with. At least that’s what the world looks like through my eyes.

And before you go thinking I’m non christian, a scrooge, someone lonely and without a family, perhaps even clinically depressed or maybe economically down on my luck so the season of “giving” presents challenges I cannot meet.

You’re wrong. I am none of these.

I was raised in a Christian household, went to church and even though I do not attend a church now, I believe there’s a heaven.

Unlike scrooge, I believe in treating your fellow man (women, children and dogs too…..I’m not really a cat person, however) with love and respect all year.

I have a lovely family. Two wonderful grown children that have given me 5 beautiful grandchildren. They call me Honey! I believe they are so inundated with “stuff” from other grandparents and family members that anything I could give them would be leave little to no impression. I believe they will remember and cherish the time we spend together long after their set of legos gets busted.

And nope, not clinically depressed either. Christmas doesn’t make me sad, unless that is, I’m forced to participate in something I choose not to and that makes me sad weather it’s Christmas or not. I don’t sit in my house and mope around. I don’t wish the world would stop celebrating Christmas. I do wish the world would stop thinking it was just a magic time of year to get gifts.

Compared to the rest of the citizens in the United States, we’re probably doing OK. Of course, we’ve had to downsize, we’ve had our share of economic set backs, but comparatively speaking, a lot of people would envy us. We have almost every electronic gadget known to man and we don’t want for much.

A popular You Tube clip being passed around features a little boy going crazy (and I mean in appropriately crazy) after receiving an iPod. The clip didn’t fill me with Joy, it just made me feel this kid had gotten what he wanted. Is that what this holiday is about?

Have you ever given a list to someone for their Christmas Shopping for you?

One of my favorite people posted on their Facebook status on Christmas Afternoon “…Gift giving is the purest form of friendship…” I thought, Really? I thought my time and attention would mean more to you than something I ordered off the internet.

I worked in a couple of high end retail locations for just a couple of years. I sold the latest and greatest gadgets that everyone wanted. I saw very little joy in the eyes of customers buying these gadgets. What I did see was credit cards being rejected, cranky people that were obviously at the end of their ropes and trying to create a holiday by pushing out all the emptiness in their lives by buying things. Buying things so people would love them.

As an adult, I have always had the feeling of dread when even the mention of Christmas begins.

I remember going to see the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” with a friend when it came out so many years ago. It opens with a house decorated in Christmas lights. I turned to my girlfriend and said “Jesus, I didn’t know this movie was about Christmas, let’s get out of here”! She of course, looked at me like I had lobster crawling out of my ears.

We stayed through the movie, but having coffee after she asked me why I hated Christmas. No one had ever asked me that before, and I had never known that I did. She asked me what Christmas was like as a child.

I remember nothing of Christmas as a child. Just a feeling of dread.

When my kids were little and all through the years, I tried to fake it. They were always to have 5 presents. They would always have the same monetary value and same perceived value. I used to drive myself crazy with this. Because I didn’t remember Christmas I had no tradition to continue, so I tried various things to start my own and they all failed miserably. I just couldn’t manufacture the joy I saw in all the movies, TV shows, etc. My ex-husbands were both pretty much hands off kind of guys, especially when it came to the holidays. If I made the magic happen, they’d attend, but that’s as far as they’d each go. I think most men are that way, at least the ones I know. It’s not magic if you have to provide a list.

My Mother would always send a check for the kids presents and I would knock myself out trying to find something for them and pretend Grandma cared enough to pick it out for them, wrap it and get it delivered by Christmas.

As a young single Mom and even when I was married Christmas was lonely. There was no magic! I worked so hard! There’s no magic.

At first the withdrawal from Christmas was horrendous. I was overridden with guilt.

Now that I’ve sworn off Christmas, and after a couple of years no expectations of Christmas, I feel so much less stress. There are no more knots. I don’t rush around during the holidays. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do. I send no gifts.

I have to tell you, not partaking in Christmas, however, is a little like being the only one not drinking at the company party.

Everyone wants to cajole you into taking a sip, dig deep into your psyche to find out why you’re not partaking, provide peer pressure to get you to play along and offer up some other form of holiday greeting.

“Can I at least say Happy HANUKKAH to you?” God!, just because I don’t fall into the trappings anymore doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate someone wishing me a Merry Christmas!

Now, our Christmas consists of a well loved tradition.

Watching my favorite movie “The Sound of Music” on Christmas Eve and eating some well orchestrated appetizers as our meal. No big meal to cook or clean up after, just eating some favorite foods in front of the TV and singing (also making fun of the Baroness, she’s such a bitch!)

On Christmas Day, a slow and very quiet start to our day with many cups of hot coffee in bed. A very cold but brisk walk with our dog Ed. A perfectly cooked Beef Tenderloin with all the trimmings. Screw the diet! A Lovely dessert of some kind (I’ve even been known to eat that before dinner!). Video chat with the kids, talk with the rest of Kelly’s family and sometimes we might even take a drive around town to see what life there is out and about.

I don’t write this to encourage anyone to abandon Christmas. If you TRULY love Christmas, then celebrate! Make the magic happen and pass on a tradition of love and joy!

Please indulge me for not seeing it your way. See my follow up post on middlesage


11 thoughts on “I Don’t do Christmas Anymore

  1. I hate Christmas too. I’ve not done away with it, but I’ve scaled it way back. I’ve skipped the tree some years, but some years I just feel like putting up the lights because of all the seasonal darkness. I’d love to take a vacation over Christmas instead of going to my husband’s mother’s (she can come too!), but no one else is convinced. I haven’t been to my parents for the holiday in 13 years. Thank god.

    I can’t wait for the old bat to die. It doesn’t matter that I don’t see her — her evil can be felt even at a distance.

    • Yes, opting out, or rather giving myself permission to stop pretending during Christmas and Birthdays has been helpful for me. Since my Mother died almost a year ago, I haven’t had to take 1 single anti depressant, and I had been on them for over 20 years! That really got me thinking, it wasn’t chemical! It was emotional, I could control it. Which meant for me, I could have had the power to do to it along time ago. I’m hoping that with practice I can become good enough at story telling and writing to help others get to a place where they can find the same peace I have found and not wait till their “old bat dies”! You really do have the power within you! As the saying goes holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. I didn’t want to give my mother that much power.

      • Just ceasing to feel like I needed to honor my parents or spend time dealing with them has freed me. I still have issues to deal with — self-confidence and belief that I deserve good things, which will take time and effort to resolve — but I am doing it and feel do much gratitude that I otherwise have built an amazing life for myself.

        I’m glad to have found your blog. Those of us unfortunate enough to have betcusdustic parents really need to see we are not alone because, as you pointed out in another one of your posts, half the battle is realizing we’re not to blame and not crazy. 🙂

  2. I have my hesitations to celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate.
    My birthday was next to Christmas, too, so it was a double disappointment. Sometimes one gift was “for Christmas and your birthday”. I never had a real birthday party.
    I would receive a few gifts and then I remember my mother saying “Well, are you satisfied?” My sibling and I would dutifully answer “yes”. One year I remember stacking up the things that were for me, after opening them, and we were expecting some relatives over. My mother said “Don’t stack your stuff all up in one spot. Spread it out so it looks like more.” My stacking was like hoarding I guess, because I didn’t usually receive much for material things.

    • Hi JM, I hear you! The only thing I hate more than Christmas is my Birthday. Growing up both of those occasions were marked by my mother’s obvious distaste for me. Opting out of both holidays hasn’t lifted all of my inner turmoil, but it has greatly reduced it. I figure it’s all about going forward instead of getting stuck in the past. Keep in contact with me over the upcoming holidays and we’ll support each other!

  3. Wow! I just read “A Little Bit About Me”. Hmmmm….I also did typesetting for 4 years. Among other things, and job losses, even though I always worked as though my life depended upon it….my last job was 7+ years at a non-profit! Never have I seen such chaos in record-keeping, high expectations, which could only be met by going in an hour early each and every day, and the employees—I think they hire anyone….and they put up with all employees’ disfunctional ideas, tears, and bizarre lives. I attributed that to the fact that a non-profit program is in the “caring” business. I don’t know. Now I’m retired and can do as I please for the first time in my life. Ahhhh..

    • Ha! It seems we have much more in common than just one miserable birthday and Christmas after another along with an incredibly mean spirited mother. I hope you are now able to enjoy your retirement time – I think we both deserve it. I relish the time I have to find my own fulfillment, my purpose and to make sense of the journey I’ve been on thus far.

      Your take on non profits and why they are such a dysfunctional place brings back so many memories…..so many struggles….with such a strong need to win everyone’s approval I found myself always feeling defeated…kind of like my relationship with my mother. I couldn’t wait to get out….I now realize the importance of running TO something rather than AWAY from something.

      I’m still a work in progress…..and I don’t mind it.

  4. Pingback: Tidings of Comfort and Joy…Bullshit | middlesage

  5. i don’t hate Christmas, i enjoy it when i can be me. now that my parents are dead, i’m divorced, i have been trying to come up with lies to tell me best friend why i don’t want to come over for Christmas. i decided early this am that i would just try to get her to understand i don’t want to be in the middle of choas of dinner making for hours, just to bury my face in food for 10 minutes.
    my mother would start planning meals in July, for Christmas. even though every year was the same, same food, same decorations, she slaved to get the praise she so sorely craved. Too much trouble for me!!

    i started my own tradition to get away from Thanksgiving, for the same Christmas reasons. i would go scuba diving, go to a casino, go anywhere to get away. Christmas was harder being married because he cared about the whole mess. One Christmas was the best. i had surgery earlier and really couldn’t get around so i told my husband to go and i’d stay home. that was the first best Christmas EVER!! i tinkered with crafts the entire time. and i didn’t know why it was the best until i read these posts. now i know why i have been in a hyperventillation mode at anyone’s Christmas dinner table!

    i’ve only had one Christmas with no parents and no husband and i truly enjoyed heating my pre-smoked turkey, eating what i want, no one telling me to try this dish or that one, i enjoyed watching whatever i wanted on TV, murder mysteries or romance. tomorrow will be my second Christmas all alone, but i love it and no one understands it. me, the dog, no mess in the kitchen and no place to go and do whatever i please.

    i’m not a total scrooge, i do decorate, because it’s fun and pretty to look at, i used to write Christmas cards, too. Just set me free from the chaos of the day! i don’t buy gifts and i don’t get any, but it sure does reduce the stress of shopping. ugh!

    Deborah Van Den Berg authout of “HEART MATTERS – losing everything and moving on”

  6. Debby, check out my follow up post… http://www.middlesage.com/tidings-of-comfort-and-joy-bullshit/. I, for the first time, began to enjoy Christmas this year. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t take part in ant decorations, gift giving or tree rituals, but I have come to appreciate our new rituals we created. Great food, a nice quiet day away from any responsibility, no chores, a good glass of wine (before 5 even!) and most of all the feeling of peace. I know you’ll get there…as far as excuses go…don’t make any, be yourself and tell your friends to respect your feelings…you’re entitled to them. And the last I checked Christmas wasn’t a forced state of mind! Happy holidays!

  7. barbara, i LOVE this site!! i never knew anyone, including myself, that had a narcissistic mother until the Dr. Phil show, maybe a month ago. since then, i bought the book “Will i Ever Be Enough?” and almost finished. Reading the posts on Christmas made me feel like i wasn’t alone and i understood, for the first time EVER!

    my friend did accept my reason for not coming, that i just preferred being alone. she finally understood and i felt liberated!

    i had a great time fixing my garage door and working outside. i absolutely loved it!

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