I always feel fairly conflicted around this time of year. I have fond memories of eagerly awaiting christmas. Of course, when I stop to think about what i eagerly awaited, they were, in this order: 1. Opening presents for me. 2. getting 2 weeks off school 3. Chopping down a christmas tree. I didn’t like all the forced-jolility involved in the holiday. I didn’t like that on christmas morning, all our neighbours would come around and I’d be expected to entertain them, and, depending on my age, expected to play the piano and sing christmas carols. Which really, just delayed the opening of presents. Then, we’d all go for a long walk, which, again, just delayed the opening of presents. Then we’d open presents, and as the youngest, it was my job to hand them all to everyone. Which was pretty fun. And very exciting. But then it would be over, and there’d be this huge dinner, which invariably, I didn’t particularly enjoy, although the company was frequently good, if shallow.
I was brought up in an almost evangelically atheist family (sounds paradoxical, but imagine arguing with someone who is religious, or a believer why they’re wrong, and you get the idea. We’d save the world from religion, the same way an evangelical would save the world from heathenism). Ostensibly, we were Anglican, I suppose, and we did the commercialized celebrations of all the various christian holidays.
Since leaving home, thinking about these things, I’ve felt less and less connected to anything christian. Were it up to me, I’d remove all religion-derived holidays from our list of statutory holidays (although I’d replace them with an equivalent, non-christian holiday so we’d all still have the same number of days off) (I’d also remove the queen as head of state and any mention of god in any governmental document. But I’m hardcore like that). Like lots of people, I like receiving presents. I’m as materialistic as the next guy. But I really, really dislike this obligation to buy presents for others that christmas entails, and the weird competition that is associated with it. Birthday presents I’m fine with, but that’s because they’re all about the person who’s birthday it is. In many ways, the recipient of the christmas present is lost in the act of giving itself.
My family is once again gathering on Vancouver Island this year, although I’ll not be attending this year, as I’m heading up to Quesnel to be with Leah’s family (after 2 years of christmas with my family, I really owe her). I understand that christmas is quite a big thing in her family, although it sounds a vastly different experience than christmas with mine, so it could be alright. However, were it up to me, I don’t think I’d celebrate christmas at all. After the first couple of years without chocolate egg hunts, I didn’t miss easter at all, so I imagine that after a couple of years without any christmas traditions, I’d stop missing that too. The time off is still appreciated, however. And it’s nice to take advantage of the time off to see my family, as we live quite far away from each other. But I’d rather it be like us getting together for a canoe trip, or a ski trip — or any random mid-year Tannock get-together, rather than this odd celebration of christmas.
Now, to make myself sound all hypocritical, christmas is an excellent excuse to get things that you want. For instance, Leah and I each want something that’s kindof expensive, and so christmas is the excuse we need to each splurge and get these things for each other, that in any other month, we’d argue against doing for innumerable reasons. Birthday’s are good for that too, of course, but there’s no mutual exchange, which is what will make this fun. Maybe they could be New Year’s presents, although that’s really just justifying by semantics, given the proximity of the two events.