When it comes to certain things in life, I'm personally more interested in the origin than the motive. I'll explain:
Take the holiday Thanksgiving, for example. Although Boston Celtics baller Kyrie Irving caught some heat for not having great things to say, publicly, about Thanksgiving this year, I get why. Reportedly, his late mother is a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the origin of Thanksgiving? I'll put it to you this way—an interesting and informative read is "The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School".
And Christmas? I know a lot of Christians say that Jesus is the reason for the season; however, while that might be their motive for observing it, that's certainly not Christmas's origin. It's more about "the holiday of Saturnalia," a week-long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25, and Christians back in the day wanting to get in on the festivities so badly that they "tacked" Christ's birthday on the end of it in order to justify becoming a part of Saturnalia. Christ's birthday is actually more around late spring, or early summer because (Hello!) that's when it's wintertime in the Middle East/Africa (Matthew 2, Luke 2).
Why is the New Year celebrated on January 1? Basically, Julius Caesar decided to switch up the calendar (you can read more about that here). I could go on, but I think you get where I'm going with this.
For me, it's knowing this kind of information that has brought me to a place of no longer observing/celebrating the holiday season. Now that doesn't mean I'm a low key Grinch who's plotting to take your Christmas trees in the middle of the night. It just means that when someone says, "So, what are you doing for the holidays?" with their faces beaming, my answer is simply, "I don't observe them," with the still-useful Kanye shrug. Then I go about the holiday season like I would any other day. And honestly, since I've been doing that, life has been less stressful, more peaceful, and yes, financially stable. I have no regrets. Not one.
While I know there are dozens of reasons why others may not observe the holiday season; maybe it's for religious reasons, maybe something else, the reason I'm penning this is because of the thing we have in common, which is we tend to be the exception and not the rule. Because of that, there's not nearly enough info out in cyberspace about how to get through this time of year—or all year if you're someone who doesn't celebrate any holiday at all.
If you can relate to where I'm coming from because, for whatever the reason, you don't do holidays either, here are some tips that get me through every time this time of year rolls around.
Decide What You Will—And Will Not—Do Beforehand.
I don't have any children, but I do have a goddaughter. I don't buy her Christmas gifts. She knows why, plus she gets enough stuff from me throughout the year that she's fine with it. One of my closest friends takes Christmas décor to a disturbing level, but I'm not gonna go over to her house and roll my eyes the entire time.
I usually swing by before she puts everything up or after Christmas is over, just so my lack of enthusiasm doesn't rain on her parade. My immediate family lives overseas, so that's not an issue and relatives who are close by respect that I'm not feeling lonely if I don't wanna swing by.
My point? Things only get "weird" when you're not clear. Once you are firm in your decisions and express to others what you want to do and don't want to do well before Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, even if the first couple of years are uncomfortable or odd for them, eventually they will catch on. And usually, it becomes not that big of a deal—both ways.
Share Because They Ask, Not Because You’re Being An Anti-Holiday Bully.
Before I got to the personal place of not observing holidays (although I do have a thing for Valentine's Day, but not for the reasons you think; St. Valentine was pretty gangster), I always admired how Jewish and Muslim people I knew handled Christmas. They didn't observe it, but they didn't berate me with their reasons why either.
At the same time, whenever I asked them for their take on the day, they were more than happy to share; they were also really well-versed in what they were talking about. I'm grateful for those kinds of convos because they taught me to be knowledgeable about my stance while still being respectful of other people's positions. If someone asks what my deal is, I share. If they don't, a simple "I don't observe" will suffice.
There's a couple I know who have the greatest Christmas hustle around. They don't observe/celebrate Christmas, so they don't bring gifts to their family members' homes. Cool. Do you. Oh, but guess what they will do—accept presents. Is it just me or does that sound more selfish than anything else?
I'm not saying you should turn down grandma's $5 in her annual Christmas card just because you chose not to get her anything. But if you do decide to spend the actual holiday DAY with others, be gracious and bring a bottle of wine or a dessert or something. You would do that for Sunday dinner on a "regular" day, right? (Right?!?)
Create Your Own Traditions.
I really like going to the movies, so on Thanksgiving, it's bliss to be able to sit in a theatre and just binge-watch. Christmas? Since I work from home, it's amazing how much I can get done (online and off) since most people are focused on family stuff. New Years? I personally observe Rosh Hashanah so, it doesn't feel like I'm missing out on anything (I already had my new year). When you create your own traditions, it makes not observing the holidays in the way that others do basically a non-issue. They can do them while you do you and it's all good—both ways.
Acknowledge The Spirit Of The Season If Nothing Else.
A few years back, I interviewed a Jewish woman who is married to a Christian man. They celebrate "Christmahanukkah" at their house. Although she isn't big on Christmas, she said something about it that has stayed with me – "If this is the one time of year when everyone can act like they've got some sense and be loving to family, friends, and strangers alike, I can appreciate that." Yeah. Me too.
Pardon the pun, but we can wrap this up in a pretty red bow with that beautiful point. Whether you observe the holiday season or not, if every day is looked at as an opportunity to bring peace and goodwill to others, it shouldn't be an issue whether that day is a random Monday or a holiday. I think we all can get on the same page about that.
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