If Christmas is all about trees and pointless consumerism, I want no part of it
A few years ago, Fox News started preaching about a “War on Christmas.” Being raised as a fundamentalist Christian. I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. From Halloween onward, there were Christmas decorations everywhere.
Gretchen Carlson whined that she had to drive her kids around for hours to find nativity scenes in front of banks or public places. She then complained about how nativity sets in Santa Monica that were displayed on one street resulted in a lawsuit. I still didn’t get it. How could anyone whine about this in a multicultural city like New York? Anyone is free to put up a nativity on their front lawn.
When my son was young, there was a neighborhood called Candy Cane Lane. I would pick him up after work and drive through the neighborhood before traffic hit. We got to see these beautifully decorated homes early and we went nearly every day.
In the 20 years since then, right wing Christians have gone all-in with this so-called “War on Christmas” mantra, so naturally I decided to declare war on Christmas myself, in my own way.
Since my own mother had put the kibosh on Christmas consumerism, I decided to do the same last year. She had a collection of nativities that I inherited when she passed away. I decided not to get a tree and just set up her nativity sets. Some were lit by candles and others were lit with bulbs.
For the first time in my life, I sent out no cards, bought no gifts and spent Christmas day alone. I refused to shop or buy gifts for anyone. I doubt that after Christmas day anyone even noticed.
In January, I found out that Target, Neiman Marcus and other commercial outlets had been hit by hackers. They had stolen credit and debit cards numbers of customers along with their pin numbers. Millions of people had to order new cards. After hearing about the breaches I sort of chuckled to myself. Not only did I save a lot of money, I didn’t need to worry about identity theft.
My war on Christmas is of consumerism. It is amazing that so many people think Black Friday is a holiday in and of itself. Let me point out that Thanksgiving is always a four day holiday as is Christmas. Convenient for retailers who want to discourage returns or exchanges.
What I did was shed the materialism and focused on what the holiday meant in the first place. I did put up some lights, visited the Macy’s Christmas tree and had a peppermint mocha. That was enough. I chose not to be with family watching children open gifts only to see them look at them, throw them on the floor and wait for the next gift.
While I understand that many people see Christmas as a way to say thank you to their loved ones, I also recognize the checklist that they have. After a few hours, the checklist just becomes “Buy whatever you think will make someone aware that I thought about them.” It makes me sick to think about. Especially a holiday about Jesus who was not a sellout.
Since I have started this new tradition, I feel so free. Nobody is expecting anything from me. They know how I feel. The illusion of Santa Claus is cute to children, but after a certain age, kids know where the gifts come from. I remember buying a gift for my nephew only to have him throw it back because it wasn’t what he was hoping for. I was disgusted.
The war on Christmas is a propaganda fairy tale. What I care about is my own experience and what I pass on to my own kids. My son’s favorite Christmas is when I could only afford a $5.00 tree and he only received hockey trading cards because I was that financially strapped. To this day, he says that was the best Christmas ever.
So like I said, this year I am doing the same thing. I refuse to buy (pun intended) into the commercialism and materialism of Christmas. Maybe I am confused by the way I was raised, but it is a mixed message. It is either about the birth of Jesus and giving humble gifts or it is about having a picture with Santa and 100 gifts under the tree.
Some people believe that Jesus is fictional, but to honor my mother and her beliefs, I will continue to display her nativities, refrain from consumerism and focus on missing her on a holiday with so many fond memories. Put up a nativity in your home or yard and call it a day. Make a feast, enjoy your family and loved ones and forget about everything else.