Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Grinchy Musings

It seems I am simultaneously a very positive person, a glass half-full and look on the bright side sort of person and yet also a but curmudgeonly.  How I achieve that special blend I cannot say.  There is no particular formula or pattern that I’ve recognised, no generalisation I can make other than that I aim to approach life from a perspective or realism so that in some situations pessimism seems inappropriate but sometimes so does optimism.  So having very poorly explained all of this, I will now confess that I am not a big fan of Christmas. 

I loved Christmas as a child, and have many good memories from those days.  I enjoyed creating a Christmas that would leave my son with good memories although by the time I had a child I had reached a point in life where I was struggling with the lie of Santa Claus.   I know popular opinion is that it’s a perfectly acceptable lie, done to create a sense of magic and excitement, harmless, a fairy tale for the magic of childhood.  I figured out for myself that there was no Santa Claus at a fairly young age but I still enjoyed the fun and magical feeling of Christmas through the rest of my childhood years.  Given that, and that I have always been someone who wants to know the truth, and that my son was from the start someone who would be upset about being lied to because he was so very trusting, I worried about the Santa Claus problem.  I also worried about him being teased if he went on believing for too long, basing this on my own childhood where most of my peers had it figured out by age nine.  It seems times have changed a little and children seem to believe in Santa Claus for longer now, which I find surprising.   It’s not that I object to fairy tales, I just want them to be clearly fiction.  Nothing scares me more than knowing how many people in this world are magical thinkers, can’t determine fact from fiction or science from pseudoscience. 

In general Christmas is to me,  intrusive, noisy, busy, tacky and in many ways meaningless.  There is not much I like less than tinsel and coloured lights and just about anything made of plastic, the banal  music that plays in shops beginning in late November, the tacky lawn ornaments and various trappings enjoyed by most other people who are not me.  Nobody much appreciates being told my point of view, and generally it is bound to offend someone.  I have already put my foot in my mouth by complaining on Facebook about the tacky and unimaginative seasonal display erected by my town only to discover it was designed by the now deceased mother of a former high school classmate and current Facebook friend.

Oops.  This display is visible from my bedroom window, being set up on a boulevard across the street from where I live.  I am still considering writing a letter to the town about it.  Yes, I am that person.  My sense of good taste is offended on a regular basis and most of the time I just deal with it, but when the ugliness is outlined in twinkling lights I generally cannot remain silent.


It’s quite likely that one reason Christmas is not special to me is because it is spent with the same people I see on a near daily basis.  Not that I don’t love these people dearly, but I don’t need Christmas to give me time with them or to spur me on to acknowledge my affection for them nor do I need a designated day to buy gifts.  Of course I have not yet mentioned the elephant in the room.  The Christmas I am describing having little affection for is the secular version and as an atheist I’ve got no interest or motivation to enjoy Christmas for its religious associations.  Basically, I just show up for the stuffing.

  
I’m not a person who likes rituals and routines much, traditions, games, groups, none of that really appeals to me.  Sure, potentially I might have fun sitting around drinking wine while decorating cookies with some friends but it’s not an event I would crave or instigate.  I don’t begrudge others their fun, although I do anxiously await the day when all the decorations and lights will come down and the horrid music stops playing in the stores.  I tell myself that what is good about this time of year, whether it’s a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Winter Solstice, is that people remember that it is important to love and cherish each other, to spread kindness and joy and love.  Then I look at the reality of the world and wonder if these celebrations have actually achieved that.  I will never know, because there will always be celebrations and traditions.  It’s human nature and I’m just not human.  The world will continue to be filled with good and bad, with sorrow and joy and while I believe it is important for us to remind ourselves regularly to be good human beings, I don’t know that Christmas achieves that.  I suspect it mainly preaches to the converted. 

So I will get through Christmas and be mostly glad when it’s over.  I will give gifts to my loved ones and receive gifts and I know we will all have tried our best to get something nice and all felt a bit of anxiety over it.  I know we will enjoy each other’s company despite the fact that we can get together any day of the week.  I will eat a little too much and some of it will be out of guilt because my mother felt obligated to bake things.  Then, I will forget about it all until this time next year.

2 comments:

  1. We are having much excitement in our household this year. For the first year the kids are buying or making for everyone. So there is much hoping someone will like their present, and wondering what they will get. It is fun to get out the decorations and mark the passing of time.
    We will have a quiet time at home and then catch up with family that we don't see every day in January.
    I am organised pretty much now, so can relax and enjoy it all.
    We don't believe anything either, but it is a fun tradition to observe.
    I'm sure the excitement in the kids' eyes make the day for us.
    I hooe you have a pleasant time with your family anyway.
    xo Jazzy Jack

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  2. I actually don't have a special opinion about the holidays. Sometimes I feel like there is something truly magic in the festive period, and yet sometimes I feel it is all getting too crazy and tacky and I can't wait for it to be over. I like decorating my home for Christmas, but I don't like all the fuss around it. Everyone seems to be under some kind of pressure during the holiday season- and sometimes it really shows.

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