Why I Wish I Didn't Celebrate Christmas

Considering the first article I ever wrote for Her Campus was about why I hate Christmas, it’s not a surprise that I’m a total grinch. This doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas—I do—it just means that I don’t feel good about it.

I think this is because Christmas is meant to be this magical time of year where everyone is happy and there is gentle snow on the ground. There are meant to be fresh gingerbread houses and hot chocolate and fresh pine trees in every building. There should be carollers and Christmas music and a major Christmas feast. There should be Secret Santas and gift giving and gift receiving, and at the end of Christmas day you should feel so happy and loved and content.

But that’s not how Christmas is. Snow is aggressive, not gentle, and you end up falling on icy patches right when a cute person walks by; gingerbread houses are stale and tooth-breaking by the time you eat them; Christmas music is repetitive and terrible; and Secret Santas are way too stressful to be fun. The gifting does feel great in the moment, but then it’s done and at the end of Christmas day you lay in bed—with a pile of presents in sight—and feel like your bones and lungs are hollow. At least, this is my experience.

I think part of my frustration comes from the fact that Christmas is actually a religious holiday, which is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It took me a long time to reach a place where religion was not a painful thing for me; it took what felt like forever for me to hit a point where I was able to separate spirituality and religion, and to feel empowered enough to unapologetically believe in and not believe in whatever I wanted. Yet here I am celebrating the greatest of Christian holidays each year.

I know for a fact that I am not the only non-Christian who celebrates Christmas, because Christmas ultimately takes a religious holiday and uses it as an excuse to celebrate consumer capitalist culture. It’s an excuse to buy, and an excuse to buy more things post-Christmas-presents because Boxing Day season offers the craziest of sales. Christmas is associated with snow and indoor trees and food and presents now, rather than the birth of Christ.

Most people either don’t think about this or are all right with it, because they see Christmas as a cultural holiday. We get time off work and school and get to spend time with our families, so we have to celebrate Christmas. But what are we really celebrating? What does this holiday mean in a modern context?

It’s a celebration of our consumer capitalist society, a celebration of a system that perpetuates and feeds off of the oppression of pretty much anyone who isn’t a rich, white, heterosexual man. It perpetuates and encourages sweatshop labour and it damages the environment. It’s a celebration of the system that actively oppressed communities I am a part of; it erases LGBTQ existence (as well as other marginalized groups) and, when it does acknowledge the LGBTQ community, it feeds off our struggle for the sake of profit. It’s a system that is so invisible and persuasive in it’s power that we all celebrate Christmas even though most of us aren’t religious, because we like to buy, buy, buy and we get a pile of materialistic desires to fill the holes in our souls.

So if I hate the whole concept of Christmas so much, why do I celebrate it? Because I don’t know how not to without sacrificing important time with my loved ones and, ultimately, they are what is important to me. I don’t want to miss out on important social gatherings because I have an issue with “the system,” and I don’t want to be the raging socialist ruining people’s good time.

Furthermore, the ideology of Christmas is so powerful and invisible that I am often swept away by material desires and get caught in a cycle of thoughts that tell me “but if I get these presents, I will be happy and whole.” And I also think that if I give others great gifts, they’ll think better of me and love me more—as if love and happiness is dependent on material goods. That’s really the reason I don’t like Christmas: it brings out a side of me that, against all my better judgements and education, is persuaded by ideologies that I actively try to work against yet can’t escape.