How the real world stole Christmas

Here’s the deal: I don’t like Christmas. And now is when you give me the omg-he-just-kicked-a-puppy-look. That’s right, I don’t like Christmas.

I don’t like Christmas music, I don’t like Christmas decorations, I don’t like Christmas food, I don’t like Christmas commercials and I certainly don’t like Christmas shopping.

Yeah, I know that pretty much makes me Mr. Scrooge, the Grinch, Satan and an asshat all rolled up into one. To that I say: Bah! Humbug!

Of course I didn’t start out disliking Christmas, in fact, I used to love it. I used to look forward to it with the fervor of a young boy, that you might expect. But for a myriad of reasons I have grown to dislike the holiday.

Let’s get the cliché reasons out of the way.


This is not a huge part of it, but I do want to address it. If I were to label my religious views, it would be agnostic. (Please, I don’t care to debate my religious views, or hear why yours are far superior to mine. I have my views, you have your views – let’s move on.)

I think religious holidays are great. People should celebrate their beliefs. What I wish to avoid is being beaten over the head with it.

That’s essentially what Christmas is—a Christian-based holiday celebrated nearly throughout the world, which is nearly impossible to avoid.

Please, continue to celebrate the birth of your savior; enjoy your nativity scenes; go to your churches. But please, don’t push your religious ideology onto me.

I almost left this part out, because it is really a very small contributing factor that I’m sure people will latch onto. I would like to believe I am very tolerant of peoples’ beliefs, and as such try not to ruin things for them. I refuse to be the guy who gets Christmas canceled for everybody.


Cliché as it is, this is part of the holiday that really irritates me.

Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve ever understood the connection among Santa, Jesus and Christmas, so I will avoid any soap box declarations of Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa. I tend to not like to give uninformed opinions, so I’ll do my research after this.

However, I do have a problem with the commercialization of Christmas. Just look at how many things Santa is selling these days. No thanks Santa, I prefer Pepsi.

Companies are companies, and they are there to make money, so I can’t fault them for that. It’s the same exploitation that happens during every holiday. The real problem is the financial burden people/families go through to provide the perfect Christmas presents, the best wrappings and even that ham with all the trimmings.

Financial responsibility is a very foreign concept these days. (Not to be hypocritical, I also fall victim to this.) So many people are well into debt, but continue to provide (or try to) the ultimate Christmas.

Guess what? You have to pay that credit card back – I would know.

There is a chicken and egg scenario going on here. People feel obligated to buy Christmas presents because companies exploit Christmas; companies exploit Christmas because people feel obligated to buy Christmas presents.

Come on people! Stop fighting over that Tickle-me-Elmo, put down your credit card, go spend some time with your family.

And now to what I consider the meat of my reasoning.

Bad memories

And here is where I cry about never getting my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van, (which I tried to impress a girl in second grade by saying that I actually did have.)

My parents tried to provide the best they could for my two sisters and I, but for all intents and purposes, we were poor.

Now I don’t know the extent of our financial status, nor do I wish to ever really know, but we went through a lot of hard times. We were on food stamps (and I remember how proud my dad was when we no longer needed them), we occasionally got government cheese, and my parents needed assistance to provide Christmas presents.

Let me emphasize that last part – my parents needed assistance to provide Christmas presents.

I don’t mean that to shame my parents (although I guarantee my dad will feel guilty if he ever reads this), but it is the truth. Of course they didn’t need assistance every year, but it happened. Nobody should feel obligated to get assistance just to provide Christmas presents. Of course I wouldn’t have understood this as a kid, but I believe it’s true now.

I actually feel guilty for being such a needy child that I forced my parents into this situation. I don’t know how many presents I got from strangers over the years, but they are just material goods not presents.

I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to see your name on those charity Christmas trees. However, I can tell you that it is so embarrassing you will be tempted to pull it off (which I believe one of my sisters did one year.)

Let me be clear, these charities and the people who provide the gifts are amazing. That’s exactly the point of charity, to help the less fortunate. Of course a child in his or her formative years doesn’t understand this, but they also don’t understand why they have to be the ones receiving charity. I feel privileged to now be in the position to give back, and felt a little misty-eyed when I took two gift ideas off the tree in our office building.

One of my most shameful memories is from third grade. After coming back from the new year, my teacher asked us what kind of presents we received. Of course after hearing about everybody’s gifts, I didn’t feel as cool/worthy/whatever so I lied. Long story short, I got caught in that lie and had to tell my entire class. I’m sure nobody cared, and certainly doubt anybody else remembers, but I do.

Should a child feel so obligated to compete with his or her classmates that they resort to lying about Christmas presents?

A co-worker said this soon-to-be teenager’s number one wish on his wish list was to fit in at school. It broke my heart because I’ve been there. And truthfully, it’s making me tear up as I write this.

I know I can’t change our society. I can’t change the obligations of parents; I can’t change the pressures of school children; so please, don’t mind me if I change the radio stations when the Christmas music comes on.