It’s funny, some of my mother’s first ‘marriage advice’ to me was that the two topics that married couples fight about most are money and Christmas. My wife and I, I should say, tend to see eye-to-eye on money.
Christmas, on the other hand, is another matter. We don’t fight anymore, because I just shut up. But, it’s not really my holiday.
My problem with Christmas:
So, before I began along the druid’s path, I’d fallen out with Christmas. My mother — the same woman who gave good marriage advice — made it clear to us growing up that Christmas was a Christian holiday. We didn’t have Santa Claus, and, even though we ate a ton of amazing food and gifts were always foremost in the kids’ minds, Christ was at the center of the family tradition.
Then, I fell out with what I now think of as ‘their’ church. And, with it, I was ready to walk away from ‘their’ religious holidays.
I don’t suppose you need me to tell you what’s ‘wrong’ with the secular, consumerist version of Christmas as it’s celebrated now. The measuring of love with money, the seemingly unavoidable comparisons of “If we buy child number one three gifts, we can’t give child number two two gifts, even if they are major gifts.”
The pressures associated with Christmas really get to me. Buying gifts on time and on a budget. Preparing a perfect Christmas celebration, managing the choreography of combining German and American Christmas traditions. Wishing a merry Christmas to all the people who feel as though we’re good enough friends for them to hear from me at the holidays. None of it is unreasonable on its face, but to me — socially awkward at the best of times — it turns the holidays into a marathon of effort that nearly trumps the work I do in exchange for proper money.
And I just realized that evergreen trees are symbols of life. What’s the sense of killing a symbol of life in order to celebrate a birth?
Why I should shut up:
There are a lot of ways we, as a society, could easily improve the ways we celebrate Christmas. But, I’m old and fatalistic enough to realize that there are a lot of forces — many of them dollars — lined up against any change. And that’s okay.
The thing is, abandoning Christmas in favor of Yule or whatever will not teach my kids not to make comparisons. They’ll just make more comparisons. Forcing them to be the weirdos in their schools and day cares won’t make them feel closer to the Earth, it will make them feel more alienated from their friends. (And I would not be surprised if they resented the Earth because of it.)
Even more, as my wife has no problem with me randomly deciding I want to have a solstice celebration, and even taking part in the ‘family’ part of the ceremony quite unironically, what right do I have to suggest she should abandon a ceremony that roots her in a culture she cares about? I don’t feel particularly integrated in the greater German culture, but she certainly does. And Christmas is one of the things that connects her to her culture. Why would I interfere with that? What possible goal can it serve?
Something I’d like to focus more on in my life in general is approaching things like this — things that have made me crazy for years, things I blame society for — and look at the things I can do in my life and thought world to find my own peace. And Christmas is one of those things. I hope that, before next Christmas, I can make positive steps towards adjusting to the holiday and finding my own ways of celebrating, of combining my values with the public perception of the holiday.