Whenever I say I’m not a fan of Christmas I get this response (or something like it): “Ugh, I don’t get why atheists have to be such stick-in-the-muds. Santa has nothing to do with Jesus anyway. We get time off of work. Just go with it.”
Well I don’t want to go with it and I have every right to my opinion. So here are the actual reasons why I don’t like Christmas so people can stop making assumptions.
1) It’s expensive. Maybe this will go away later when I’m a real adult with a real job and not a student anymore, but seriously, Christmas is a ridiculous money sink. Once a year you’re forced to buy presents for people who may or may not need them simply because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Well, I can’t afford it. So Christmas rolls around and I feel like an asshole because I don’t buy anyone anything. Why would I like that?
2) Forced gift-giving. My partner and I get presents for each other throughout the year when we see something the other will like or when we need something. We don’t wait for Christmas. So at Christmas, there’s nothing we need. From anyone. So we tend not to get each other anything and we don’t ask for anything from anyone else, but every year there’s this pressure to get a Christmas gift because we’ve been brainwashed our whole lives that that’s what you do at Christmas time and other people will get us gifts anyway even though we told them not to. Does a present given/gotten because it was a certain day of the year mean nearly as much as a present given/gotten because I were thinking of the person and knew they’d need/want/like the gift? And if I find such a gift, why should I have to wait until December to give it to them when I can see my gift make them happy now? I don’t get it.
3) Travel. My family lives in one province, my partner’s family lives in another, we live in yet another. We’re down to taking turns at holidays now, but either way we rent a car (because we don’t own a car of our own) for the several hours of travel. Either this costs an arm and a leg (remember: students, so a few hundred bucks plus gas is a lot) or we have to limit our visit to 2-3 days. Visiting family is nice and all, but I’d rather do it when I have the time and money and not on my only vacation simply because that’s what people do because it happens to be Christmas.
4) I don’t get anything out of Christmas. Not being religious in any way, there isn’t anything about Christmas that I can’t do at other times, so I don’t see why I should be pressured to cram all that stuff into one holiday. It’s not because I’m a stodgy anti-Christmas atheist who shoots down plastic Santa’s. It’s just that, if I’m not religious, then why put sooooo much effort into one holiday when there’s 364 (or occasionally 365) more days in the year?
5) We don’t have kids. Why get a tree, decorate the house, etc when all it’s going to do is cost money and stress us out? We have no kids here to appreciate it and put on a show for, so why bother? And if we did have kids, do I really want to teach them the lesson that they get obscene amounts of presents every Christmas just because it’s Christmas and not because they earned any of it or wanted/needed any of it? That’s something I’ll have to deal with later, but for now we just don’t bother with the decorating and all that. I have a tiny tree that I put ornaments on that I’ve gotten for Christmas and I put up the other decorations I’ve gotten as gifts, but I have never purchased Christmas decorations myself that weren’t balcony lights. There’s just no point.
6) The Christmas songs and decorations. I was shopping for Halloween (my favorite “holiday”) and the Christmas decorations were already up on 31 October. Halloween wasn’t even over yet and they had already replaced the Halloween candy display with a Christmas one, the decorations were up, etc. What was playing on the radio at the store the next day? Christmas music. The same 10 Christmas songs that have been played for the last 50 years, or those new contemporary suck-ass songs that sound just like any other contemporary song except they say the word “Christmas” every few verses. It’s not even that I inherently dislike Christmas music or decorations, but I don’t like it sledgehammered into my face for 3 months.
I probably sound really Scroogetastic right about now. So I want to point out that it’s not that I’m totally against Christmas or something. I get how people can like it. Its festive, it can be fun (with all the candy and traditions, etc), there’s Perry Como and Bing Crosby… But it’s just not my favorite holiday. In fact, for a lot of reasons (above) its near my least favorite holiday. And I don’t see what that has to do with me being a stick-in-the-mud “Jesus hater”. I love Easter for instance (mmmm…Cadbury Cream Eggs). Another holiday with Jesus undertones that has been secularly bastardized quite nicely. But Easter doesn’t kick the shit out of me for 3 months, stress me out, and make me feel guilty for not being super fucking thrilled that it’s happening.
I unapologetically do not like Christmas. It’s not because I’m an atheist, it’s not because I’m a greedy and/or cheap son-of-a-bitch — it’s the guilt, the stress, the over-saturation of the whole thing. And I think that’s perfectly fair.
Edit: I do a pretty kick-ass It’s a Wonderful Life Jimmy Stewart impression so I make a point to watch that movie every Christmas to provide entertainment to my loved ones. So I guess I have that “tradition”…