In January 2007 - at the beginning of the year - I sent an email to all my friends telling them that, disillusioned by all the commercialism of the holidaze, I was no longer celebrating the season in the way I had been accustomed to - no more mass holiday card mailings, no excessive spending to make sure that everyone known to me and my family had some token of love or appreciation to open on December 25th - no lights, no stockings, no tree. I further decided to ditch the family and take myself away on a "holiday by myself retreat" (that's the subject of a whole 'nother blog!) Bah-humbug became my new favorite phrase...what a backlash that decision caused! Even though my friends were given a 365 day warning, with a subsequent follow up reminder in early November of 2007, I still had people inviting me to parties and sending me their holiday wish lists and mailing me holiday greetings. Not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, I decided to honor the holiday greetings I received by sending personal notes of "thanks for the card, here's what your friendship means to me" - but after I spent two hours on a Saturday night doing that, I felt like it would have been better to just send holiday cards instead! Writing the notes became a tedious, time consuming chore and seriously, after note #25000 (ok, slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like that many!), it was getting really really old..
And you have to know, I was one of those "everybody gets something" type of holiday people. I would buy presents all throughout the year - hoard them and hide them so that I could spread cheer to EVERYONE - from the bank tellers at each of the banks I have funds to each and every co-worker on my floor to my bosses to the older members at church and the list goes on and on. But when someone said to me once, "so, what are you getting me this year? you always give such good gifts.", it turned my stomach. Is that what the meaning of the holiday season had become? How much loot you could rack up?
When I announced my decision not to do Christmas anymore, I was called "Grinch", "Scrooge" and all other kinds of names. I was asked (more times than I could count), "why aren't you celebrating Christmas?" as if it were a personal affront or a denial of my Christianity. I had to "defend" my position over and over again. I suffered through, thinking, "Ok, this is just the first year. Next year, it will be easier because everyone will know how I feel and why I am boycotting..."
Uh...NO! This year, it seems even worse!
Today our firm is having our holiday party. Due to economic concerns, instead of the two lavish parties that the firm throws every year (an evening party for those who want to get dressed up and drink free alcohol; and an afternoon luncheon for those (like me) who don't do the drinking, dancing, dress up affair) - the firm has opted to do one on-site, heavy appetizers and free alcohol event. I am not attending because (1) I don't do Christmas; and (2) my cousin Candace is graduating from college tonight and I am attending her special event in honor of this achievement. (Go Candace!) But I digress. Any guesses on how many times I have been asked today if I'm going to this afternoon's event? And how many times I've had to explain why I don't do Christmas (in the traditional sense) anymore? Too many to count.
So, for the record, here are my main reasons for not doing Christmas anymore: (1) I strive to honor the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ EVERY DAY, not just December 25th - which ain't really His birthday anyway, but that is the subject matter for another blog at another time!;
(2) my love for someone is exhibited all year long, again not just on December 25th. I am a big celebrator of birthdays. I figure a birthday is the one day of the year where you specifically honor a person for what they mean to you. If I remember your birthday, why do I need to show my love for you again on December 25th? And if I don't hand you a present on that day, does that mean all the other times I showed love throughout the year all of a sudden are invalid? Whatever!
(3) do you know how much money I save by not having to buy holiday cards, wrapping paper, bows, stamps, gifts...it is ridiculous that amount of money I used to drop during the holiday season. Now I can use those funds to bless others - friends who are struggling financially due to job layoffs or other economic impacting factors - and isn't really what the holiday season is supposed to be about?
So, yes, I no longer do Christmas - not last year, not this year and I don't forsee me changing my mind in 2009 either; and yes, I will be "abandoning" my family again from Christmas Eve until the day after Christmas by going away (again) for a "Kristina time retreat"; and no, I don't feel guilty at all about doing it. (wink)