Christmas: Is it ok not to care?
“Christmas is a baby shower that went totally overboard.”– Andy Borowitz
Christmas is always portrayed to be a big deal. We see Christmas paraphernalia start to creep onto store shelves as early as September, streets and malls get decorated with lights and ornaments and the Christmas markets go up. Traditions tell us what to eat, who is spend this time with and what to do.
All this hustle and bustle can often create an enormous amount of stress. We have family members coming over who we need to entertain, there’s the house to decorate and Christmas dinner to prepare, we want everything to be perfect for that special day.
When I was a kid, as a family we didn’t go too crazy, we had the tree, some presents and a delicious Christmas lunch cooked by my mum but something was always missing. I didn’t feel any of that Christmas magic portrayed in the movies, TV ads or shop windows. I then realised that it doesn’t matter. Life is real, and that magic created by commercials was just that- a Christmasy feeling to draw customers in to buy stuff.
Since I started travelling back in 2012, I’ve spent only one Christmas in the family home I grew up in. The rest, that’s five, I have been travelling and spending Christmas in places they don’t actually celebrate Christmas. When you’re not religious Christmas starts to loose its importance when you’re taken out of the Christmas bubble. I didn’t have Christmas decorations around me, no trees, no traditional food, no cold weather and it was easy to forget that Christmas was coming. Often, as a traveller, you are so immersed in the foreign culture you’re exploring you tend to forget about your own. Some years I didn’t even celebrate Christmas and that was fine, almost liberating.
Now I live in Chile when I’m not travelling. They celebrate Christmas but it’s not as big of a deal as in the UK. What I still can’t get use to is the inverted seasons and Christmas in 30 degree sunshine. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas. I celebrate with my extended family and friends and we have a casual Summer barbecue. I don’t do decorations, trees or gifts. I’ve definitely found my Christmas style and what’s important to me and I’m happy with it but what I’ve learned along the way is that it’s ok not to care.
Christmas differs for everyone and I love how varied it is for every person but what’s important here is to not get stressed, caught up in anxiety, expectation and spend money you don’t have on gifts. I have seen many people get into debt over the Christmas period and continue to pay for all those gifts way into the new year. Is it really worth it?
It’s ok to be a Grinch and not conform.
“Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.”– Dave Berry
Here are some of my quick tips for handling Christmas.
- It is what you make it. If you want to go all out then that’s fine. If you don’t that’s fine too. Focus on the things that matter to you.
- Christmas is consumerist heaven and nowadays all that paper wrapping and plastic packaging contributes to a planet already swallowed by plastic. Try giving experiences as opposed to physical gifts and not to wrap gifts in disposable paper.
- It’s ok not to care about all the decorations, gifts, etc.
- Don’t spend money you don’t have. Try find middle ground with buying the essential gifts. You can always be creative and make a lovely notebook or a friendship collage. Often these gifts are appreciated more due to the time and love that went into them. Ask yourself if you don’t mind going into debt over Christmas and if the answer is no then I’m sure your loved ones will understand.
Please comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Christmas and what you’re doing over the holidays.