Christmas; just another day.
I ran into an old neighbour of mine in the supermarket today. She asked me how I’m going with Christmas preparations. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “It seems like I’m supposed to be buzzing around, doing more. Am I supposed to be doing more?”
“Nope.” She said, “That’s how it should be.” I nodded, still unsure of myself.
I don’t want to follow the current and make Christmas a stressful time for our family. After all, it’s just another day.
It makes me think of the way that people throw so much into their wedding day without paying much thought to the time and resources that need to go into preparing for a healthy marriage (i.e. books, workshops, counselling sessions, etc).
We throw so much at Christmas day and we get carried away by the stress of putting on the perfect celebration with the perfect table setting and perfect food, that all the joy gets sucked out of it in the end. You might be singing ‘Joy to the World.’ Meanwhile, there’s no joy left in your heart or in your family.
My husband and I are still figuring out what Christmas is going to look like for us, now that we have our little daughter with us. I think that as the years go by, we’ll be guided by the sorts of things that excite her around this time of the year.
So far, we don’t have plans to pretend that Santa Claus exists. I believe we can foster a wild imagination in her without Santa having to be in the picture.
If we’re going to make or buy our daughter a gift, we’re going to tell her that it’s a token of our love for her and not just because it’s Christmas or because a fictional man with no relationship to her, squeezed down a chimney just because that’s his job.
And I hate this rubbish about Santa checking if kids have been naughty or nice. I feel angry even writing those words. No one should be described in such black and white terms.
No child is bad or naughty. Their behaviour may be inconvenient or difficult but there is so much more to that than simply being naughty (that’s for another post).
We wouldn’t speak to an adult in those terms so why do we afford children so little respect? And what do we teach them about themselves when we tell them that they’re getting gifts this year because they’ve been ‘good?’
In our family, we believe in God but we don’t believe Christmas needs to be a big hoo-ha in terms of getting into a ‘the spirit of giving’ (a phrase loved by marketers). If we’re going to be kind people, we need to make giving a priority throughout the year.
And certainly not just in material terms. We can give of our time, our ideas, our ears to listen with and our hands to help with. You could make a whole list. In fact, maybe you could sit down with your family this Christmas and make a list of the ways you all can hold on to the spirit of giving throughout the year.
I also know that people love the idea of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Meh. I mean, I think the world of Jesus (to put it mildly). But I don’t know. I just think every single day is glorious and not any less so in comparison to Christmas day.
Not every day will be happy, easy, fulfilling or without suffering. I’ve sure had my fair share of shitty mornings or afternoons or evenings, this year.
But the glory is evident when I look back and see how that period of hardship caused me to grow and change in miraculous ways. And also for the countless things and people I am grateful for each day.
So what is Christmas going to look like for us this year? Well, I look into our lounge and there’s a miniature Christmas tree with cute baubles and a nativity scene enhanced by some of our daughter’s Lego farm animals. But that’s about it.
We’ll have family over and we’re asking everyone to bring a plate of something to share. We’ll make mince pies in the evenings leading up to Christmas with Home Alone in the background, as well as all of the Harry Potter movies. I’ll admit that’s a weird tradition but it really gets me in the mood, probably because Hogwarts have the coolest Christmas set up.
We’ve asked that no one brings toys for our daughter, partly because of landfill + microplastics in the ocean + we hate waste and would rather hire toys or buy 2nd hand + children in the first world don’t need more stuff, they need better examples.
And partly because we’ve asked our family to donate to Destiny Rescue who pull underage girls out of brothels, instead. Don’t even get me started on that. It makes me sick to my bones. If you’re still here reading this, please consider supporting them.
I hope I haven’t pooped all over your party if you do have a tradition of grand Christmas celebrations. Look, by all means, if it’s life-giving, brings joy, is mindful, isn’t wasteful and most of all, is meaningful and for you and your family, go ahead!
I guess it boils down to this. If Jesus is the reason you celebrate Christmas or ‘the reason for the season’ as you might say in Christianese, (and I know for many families, he is not - keep reading - it still matters), consider the following:
Are you making ethical choices as a consumer this Christmas? Are you honouring your responsibility to the Earth He made for you and the animals He created to live in it? (You don’t have to have a vegan or vegetarian dinner but you can choose to buy the most ethically produced meat possible).
Are you honouring and respecting your children with the language you use and the reasons you give to them?
Are you aware that the adults in the room were also ‘precious children’ once upon a time? And they stopped being seen as precious just because they grew up one day. Yourself included. How can we treat them like they’re special again? I get that there are genuine problems within families. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be kind even if you need to maintain a distance.
How can you make a concerted effort to do the above throughout the year?
So yes, Christmas is just another day for us. Another glorious day. And if we’re different people when Christmas comes around, then we don’t take seriously enough the meaning of Christmas.
I would love to know what Christmas looks like for you and if you, at any point, have had to reevaluate it’s significance or they way it takes place in your life. Please comment below.