EDIT: This was written a couple of years back and may or may not apply now.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a figure of pity. As Bob Cratchitt, the naïve but lovable father of a family way too big to feed, laments “But sir, Christmas is a time for giving… a time to be with one’s family.” To which Scrooge responds with his catchphrase “I say, Bah humbug!”
I remember Christmas as a child. Waking at 4am, reaching into the newly filled stocking and pulling out monkey nuts, chocolate and the compulsory Satsuma. Some small treats and games, maybe a couple of action figures my parents had placed there in the hope it would occupy me for the next few hours so they could sleep till a reasonable time. It rarely worked. Before long my parents, sleepy eyed and sleep deprived would lead us downstairs- SANTA HAD BEEN!
Looking back at family videos I never seemed to be particularly excited, even then though. There is no child like wonder and excitement, eagerly ripping paper off toys and games and selection boxes. Instead I was almost methodical. Each present carefully picked up, the shape examined, then the paper carefully removed. Not a smile on my face, just opening the present cautiously, looking at whatever it was before calmly saying “thank you” and placing it to the side so I could move on to the next one. Its not that I was ungrateful, its not that I wasn’t in some way excited I guess, it was more that the whole thing just seemed so forced, so ritualistic- This is what we are supposed to do. This ritual we were expected to go through every December 25th. I like presents- who doesn’t really?- but looking back in my mind vs looking back at actual video evidence there is a conflict of memory. Even as a child I don’t think I particularly enjoyed Christmas.
I did enjoy parts of it. I remember how over board my grandparents would go- the entire house was decked out like Santas grotto. It would not surprise me – as a child – if I walked in and Santa was sat in the living room (He never was, because he isn’t real). Christmas reminds me of the my grandparents. My Nan and Grandad were important parts of my life. But now they are both dead. Those family Christmasses of the 80s and 90s will never happen again. They are gone, and I am no longer a child. I think I enjoyed dinner the most out of Christmas, because my Nan was an old school cook. One of those older people who cooks every cookable thing available to man and loads it onto your plate. It was one of the few times in the year when we all got together. And even if I am not celebrating I will raise a glass to my grandparents.
But in all honesty, I’ve been looking at my childhood Christmasses through rose tinted glasses these past few years. Trying desperately to latch back onto that sense of wonder I, in all honesty, probably never felt anyway.
If we say we don’t “do” Christmas some people respond as if you’ve slapped their baby with a mackerel. Almost being personally insulted by the very notion that you might not want to celebrate something they hold so dear- even atheists. Jehovahs Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas, yet it’s the Atheists who are seen as grinches. My decision to not “do” Christmas this year is not directly influenced by my lack of Christianity, though it IS a factor- in amongst many.
Here’s the low down: I am a single, 30 year old guy, with no children, no family (that I’m in touch with) in the same country, no money worth blowing and no Christian faith. I live miles from anyone and because of house pets I couldn’t really travel too far for too long anyway. And my housemate is away to her sisters in London. So I made the decision to not “do” Christmas this year. I have no partner to spend the day with, no children to see excitedly rip paper off presents, no parents to pop over to in a ten minute car ride, no grandparents I spent my childhood with alive, no cash to really splurge on and no belief that this day is some how holy. So I genuinely don’t see the point. It would be far more effort than what its worth.
For the first time in my life there is no chocolate advent calendar adorning my wall. There is no Christmas tree sparkling in the corner of the living room. No tinsel dangling from any danglable place. No mince pies in the oven. No Christmas movies playing. No excited countdown. No Christmas cards sent. No excitement for presents- I’m not expecting any and the only “present” I have bought is for my housemate to go and see The Hobbit next week. And that’s it. This year, I will wake on December 25th, mooch around the flat, feed the Degus, play Batman: Arkham Origins, then mid afternoon start on a bottle of single malt and pass out watching Doctor Who. I’m not even sure if I’m going to make anything resembling a Christmas dinner. Too much effort and expense for just one person. A beef stew and dumplings will do me fine.
And you know what? I’m actually more excited at that prospect than anything resembling a “traditional” Christmas. Because for the first time this is MY choice. I am doing what I want at Christmas. Not what friends, family or society thinks I should do. I have had several invites form people to spend Christmas with them. I appreciate the offers but have politely declined them all. I may well meet people for drinks on Christmas Eve, but that will be the length and breadth of my Christmas celebrations.
I’m not being a Scrooge, nor a Grinch- though there are some arguments that say what is wrong with being either? Its not that I hate Christmas, its not that I don’t want others to enjoy it, and its not that I may never “celebrate” it again – if next year I am seeing someone or sometime after that have kids (I don’t intend to but that’s another article!) then maybe I will partake in the celebration- but on my own terms. But this year, right now, I have no desire, no excitement, no Christmas cheer. I simply don’t want to do it. An overly commercialised mess of a holiday that is marginally better if you have your own family. But as a singleton, no family nearby, no kids, no religion, no actually ability to travel outside this little town, I really don’t see any point in getting all Christmassy. Nor am I being a kill joy- my desire to spend Christmas alone does not impact anyone else but me. I do hope *you* have a Merry Christmas. But please…
“Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”
ADDITIONAL: Here’s another article from a fellow Christmas apostate. http://freethoughtblogs.com/godlessness/2013/12/07/in-defence-of-the-war-on-christmas/