I am not a Scrooge. A Scrooge doesn’t want anyone to enjoy Christmas. I want all of you Christmassy folks to knock yourselves out and have the best Christmas ever. But I feel blah about the holidays, that time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
My non-Christmassy attitude began when I was in college. My college job (summers, weekends during the school year and Christmas) was at a J.C. Penny. While I encountered some nice holiday shoppers I also dealt with real jerks who celebrated Christ’s birth by taking out their frustrations on sales clerks. Back then, I didn’t have the emotional tools to realize their behaviors were “their stuff” and not mine to take on. I remember some nights driving home from work in tears all because someone I didn’t know from Adam blamed me because the store was out of (fill in the blank). Fa la la la la.
For the past 16 years, I’ve served non-profit agencies as a development officer. I love connecting donors with philanthropic causes. But life as a fundraiser doesn’t slow down in December. In fact, life in the non-profit world doesn’t slow down (neither does healthcare and other related fields). Hunger, illness, poverty and loneliness don’t take time off to celebrate the season. It’s very fulfilling work, but all of the extra parties and other Christmas obligations have to be crammed into an already busy schedule or skipped altogether.
In more recent years I’ve just become tired of the excess. Christmas displays are in stores before the Halloween candy goes on sale. It’s all about the almighty dollar. It’s all just way too commercial for me.
This year we’ve dialed it back. We have a Christmas tree, but that’s the only decoration in our house. Hubs gets home from work before I do, and each evening he turns on the tree’s lights so that when I pull into the driveway, I’m greeted by those lights winking at me through our window.
I and a few people with whom I used to exchange gifts decided to let that go. We don’t need a thing and we don’t like each other any less because we aren’t buying presents for each other. Instead, hubs and I were able to be “Layaway Angels.” That was much more fulfilling than swapping gifts with people who already have plenty.
And today we have Christmas Eve. Hubs and I will attend a church service where we will be brought back to the “reason for the season.” As I do every time I attend Christmas Eve service, I’ll take a deep breath, exhale, and remember: Christmas is pretty wonderful when I ignore everyone’s expectations and just focus on that little baby born more than 2,000 years ago.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I really mean it.