- Alana vs. Christmas
- December 19th, 2010
Christmas and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship:
I love christmas tree lights, red-green-and-white-striped stockings (on my feet), sleigh rides, santa hats, some christmas music, and this strange sort of "Christmas spirit" that appears this time of year. I like to get excited and festive about holidays that tell you to be cheery and watch stop-motion animation about elves that want to be dentists.
I hate christmas shopping. I don't like presents and gift exchanges and the malls and the ads and the roads and stress and the angry shoppers.
I grew up in a family that was definitely middle-class. We always had enough money for everything we needed, but as far as I can remember (and from my subjective point of view of that kid on christmas morning for the past 22 years) my parents never went overboard for Christmas presents. I doubt they racked up the debt or spent hundreds of dollars on us as kids. (Except the year after my parents got divorced, mum took us and her new bf to Cuba... I'll never understand that one???) And more so now, presents are probably under 50$ sort of items (or cheques). But the point here is that we were never hard done by.
BUT -- my only extended family is on my mom's side. That extended family would be more upper-middle class that us, I would guess (bigger houses and better cars being my indicators) and in the years where we were still exchanging presents with the cousins, we would always give less expensive gifts than we would get. My cousins were always getting extravagant piles of presents under the tree that we would get to hear about. My mom would stress about how much she could spend on her siblings and their families for christmas. I found it just a little bit uncomfortable. And I was just a little bit jealous of those super expensive gifts my cousins were getting. I'm sure a was a brat about it too.
And now, this has led to me simply hating christmas gifts. It's taken this long to fully manifest itself in the form it is today -- the one that actually brought me to the point where I asked my mom to not exchange gifts. I got to my dad and step-mom too late, they already have a present for me, and I've got a book list for them. And that is what really does it for me. The point where I've got to ask you what I should get you for christmas. Or I've given up and given you a gift card?! Is this was Christmas is really here for?! Is the point just to spoil your kids, to out-gift your siblings? For me to be jealous and awkward and uncomfortable on Christmas with my extended family? To rage against crowds at the mall to get the "perfect gift for _______"?
Let's review here: Christmas happened because Jesus was born. And since that isn't really important to me, and it's been a long time since I've been to church, I'm thinking Christmas is about appreciating the people you care about. Letting them know you love them, you care about them, you miss them, that they're awesome, that this magical day on the 25th of December wouldn't be the same without them. And so we do this with cards and gifts. This makes sense to me. Write them a lovely card, make them a nice little present, buy them something really special that you know they will really appreciate, take them out for dinner. That's great. But why is there all this extra pressure at Christmas? I'm sure this is the work of zillions of dollars worth of marketing, but can't I boycott that? I love you everyday. I'll send you a card with a little christmas tree on it in March! It frustrates me that this is really hard to express to people. And what do I do with people who have already got me a christmas present? A lot of people are going to relate this opinion to being cheap, or scrooge-y. I suppose those people are going to be gift card recipients.
Why can't we just spend some time with the people who mean this much to us instead of just spending as much money as we can on them?
Tell me LiveJournal: did I miss something in my frustration and Christmas-shopping induced anxiety? Do you get this?