Just in Time for the Exmas
For about ten years, I have bypassed christmas (let’s call it “the exmas” from now on). The first year, I said to my Gramma, “I’m not coming for exmas dinner and you don’t need to give me any gifts.” She was upset until I said, “c’mon, Gramma, I turn into a bitch.” She agreed and I’ve never looked back.
I don’t participate in gatherings or gift giving, and discourage the bestowing of gifts upon me. Exceptions are professional gatherings (I’m self employed: networking is important), and visits with people from out of town. I vehemently refuse to travel to my “hometown” (cold, snowy, redneck-y, dirty and ugly, not to mention eye-stabbingly boring), and avoid shopping like the plague.
The reason list gets longer every year:
- Atheism. I have never, in my entire life, ever believed in a god or “higher power”. And though a lot of the traditions were co-opted from non-christian belief systems, I find it hard to tolerate the religious aspect.
- Over-spending and unthoughtful gift giving. People tend to buy expensive, poorly thought out gifts in excess and on credit. Those that opt for “handmade” gifts are commendable, but who wants a poorly knit, seasonally themed to-go coffee cup jacket? (read about how christmas spending gets competitive at The Economist)
- Too much shitty food. I’m still not entirely sure why people think that over-cooked, dry, soggy, bland, sauce drowned food is so amazing. Really, I don’t.
- Brainwashing. The Christmas Carol. Need I say more? Okay, “you’re an uncharitable asshole if you don’t participate in the exmas.”
- Donations. People make a lot of charitable contributions at the exmas, but donations are needed year round. Access to shelter and food is just as important the other 364 days of the year.
- Family. I like my family. I like them in small, manageable doses. And certainly not when above said shitty food is involved (my dinner commentary doesn’t always go over very well: “that’s some really excellently over-cooked turkey you’re serving”).
- Thank you cards. Does every family have a list maker that heavily “encourages” thank you cards? Every gift-giver needed to receive a happy note, even the ones that sent the worst presents (you know who you are). My helpful recommendations for the following year (“thank you for the book about god; cash or cheque is preferred. Merry exmas! -Amy”) were often nixed before pen hit paper.
- Assumption. Please, please, please don’t assume that I’m just like you; I know you’re not just like me. My response to “merry exmas” are: smile and nod (hypocritical); “happy solstice/holidays/new year/etc” (tedious); on a bad day, a rant at some hapless working person who doesn’t even care (pointless); or “thanks, but I don’t participate” (easiest).
I approve of random, person appropriate gifts (ie. I saw this and thought of you: surprise!), or unexpectedly paying for a meal or coffee. I like to make donations throughout the year, but, sadly, underemployment has been limiting this sort of spending… Sigh.
I heartily enjoy the celebration of birthdays and anniversaries: they’re different every time AND they make the center(s) of attention feel good.
Although I’m not always good at it, everyone should try to treat each other with courtesy, respect and consideration. It shouldn’t be something that you’re encouraged to do once a year.
My decision rankles some people, and I receive flack for it, but I also have some great discussions/debate, and reexamine my position yearly (it gets lonely sometimes).
You respect my choice, I’ll respect yours (even though I still don’t get it).