Why This Non-Christian Loves Christmas

grinchWhile I sit in the lobby of my office building stealing Starbucks’ WiFi, I thought I’d tell you about my relationship with Christmas.

It probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that someone as non-religious and Agnostic as me would even celebrate this holiday.

But we were raised with it, albeit minus Santa Claus. Maybe my parents figured if we weren’t going to acknowledge baby Jesus, there was no reason to bring Santa into the mix either.

I was fine with this set up, having no idea that Christmas for many people involved church or the spirit of giving and the birth of Jesus CHRIST.

Instead, we had a tree and presents and got together with extended family to eat ham off of t.v. trays in someone’s small apartment.

Since there was no Santa, our gifts would often sit under the tree a week or two before the actual day, and my brother and I would sit and try to guess what they were by shape and weight. Maybe this seems unexciting, but I loved the built up anticipation.

I like Christmas music. Today I sat in my cubicle listening to oldies versions of carols on Spotify. Did you know they have a dozen or so different channels just for Christmas songs??

If it wasn’t offensive, I would decorate my space with red and green and maybe even wear a pair of reindeer antlers on Christmas Eve Day (because I’ll be here…)

My building has a huge tree and wreaths in the lobby. They’re adorned in blue, white and silver, as if to say “This is SORT OF Christmas because a tree is involved”.

It’s enough for me.

*Update* There was a quartet of cellos (high schoolers) in the lobby playing Christmas music and I sat and listened like a weirdo for fifteen minutes.

I get that in a time of increasing sensitivity to other cultures, religions and practices, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to tone down on all of the Christmas mania that consumes everything once the hangover of Thanksgiving wears off.

In most cases, I would gladly support this sort of political correctness.

But I love holiday inspired drinks, Christmas cookies, candy canes, and lights.

You guys, I sang in the madrigals in high school, dressing up in rented renaissance clothes singing carols a capella at nursing homes.

Voluntarily.

I also REALLY like giving presents. I’ve been financially strapped for awhile now, so this year I hope to at least get my immediate family gifts.

I LOVE THE MOVIE ELF. And A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Love Actually and Miracle on 34th Street.

Christmas makes me happy. It’s a sense memory of excitement and joy and yeah, I suppose being spoiled, not going to school, and wearing a dress to dinner.

I cling to those memories. Perhaps like The Grinch, my heart slowly shrinks and shrivels throughout the year, but grows and swells from the warmth of Christmas past.

I think gift giving has been watered down a lot because of online shopping and the ability for anyone to get anything at anytime. And in general, growing up and being able to buy myself things. Also, nothing seems all that special or unique unless it’s handmade. And sometimes it just feels gross to get more things. Things that take up space, that we don’t need, that seem excessive and unnecessary.

Christmas has toned down a lot at our house. One year we didn’t have a tree and I was surprised at how disappointed I was.

My mom bought a tiny one so there would be some sort of decoration. I want to put it up this year, but she’s afraid my kid will tear it down (which is a very valid fear.)

We stopped celebrating with my extended family after my grandmother died several years ago.

Some years it’s just been me and my parents. My brother and his fiancee don’t live in the state and I didn’t have a boyfriend for many years.

It felt really quiet and un-holiday like.

I hope we can resurrect some of the past now that my son is around to potentially take joy in the small transformation the house takes because of Christmas. I think he’ll get a kick out of tearing up wrapping paper and hopefully enjoying what’s inside (though it’s OK if he doesn’t.)

I suppose I want him to have experiences that turn into happy memories, so he’ll always have a little bit of nostalgia this time of year once he’s an adult. Even if I’m remembering things with rose tinted glasses, that’s OK with me.

-Carly

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