When I was a child, I was full of Christmas spirit. I loved baking, buying presents, opening presents and everything in between — I even put my cat in Christmas outfits for photos and built a Christmas tree out of sugar cookies. I no longer have that Christmas spirit.
My disdain for the season began after a string of bad Christmas experiences that caused me to turn my back on the holiday altogether. It all started when my sister left home — after that, our family Christmas traditions no longer felt the same. I decorated the tree by myself that year and ended up crying in the corner listening to A Christmas Album by Bright Eyes.
The next year, my boyfriend brought me to his family holiday party and I immediately sought out an empty room to have a nap in. Then, I realized that I was stuck in a strange house with people I didn’t know for the rest of the day, and that thought left me in tears in the bathroom. After these bad Christmases, I began to feel suspicious of the whole holiday season for a number of reasons.
First, it’s been hijacked by consumerism. If Christmas is the day to celebrate Jesus’s birth, why is it that most people’s main concern is being able to afford presents for everyone they know?
As a student, buying presents is an added stress that I feel is completely unnecessary — and I think this applies to adults everywhere who live on a budget. I don’t understand why people will go into debt just because it’s the holidays.
Secondly, I am an atheist. I do not go to church, nor have I ever gone, and I perceive Christmas as a fundamentally Christian holiday. As I’m getting older, I’m trying to reconcile my beliefs with my lifestyle — Christmas just doesn’t fit into my routine anymore.
According to Time Magazine, many scholars agree that the Christian figure Jesus Christ was likely not even born on Dec. 25, so I don’t really understand why the date is celebrated in the first place.
And third — I just don’t understand Christmas. I don’t understand Santa Claus or his flying reindeer or why we make gingerbread houses or put up pine trees inside the house. The whole thing doesn’t make any sense, if you think about it.
I’ve read that some of our Christmas traditions began after a group of ancient shamans collected magic mushrooms from under pine trees, gave some as presents to their village, then ate them and saw flying reindeer. While I don’t think this is a factual story, it makes about as much sense as anything else during this holiday.
My point is that I’m a big Grinch, and I’m really okay with that. I don’t like tinsel because it is too shiny, I don’t like presents because they encourage consumerism, and I don’t decorate because I think it is a waste of time. But, there are still parts of Christmas that I do enjoy. I love spending time with my family, especially family that I don’t get to see very often, and I love watching Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I also have a four-month old nephew this holiday season, and I look forward to seeing in him the same Christmas spirit that I once wholly embodied as a child. However, at the end of the day, even though I love the more organic and emotional parts of the holiday season, I am no longer a Christmas fanatic because of the holiday’s religious roots, its penchant to endorse consumerism and the fact that it is truly nonsensical.
Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer
Graphic: Jina Bae