So I've made a few bigger decisions this week---based on thoughts I've been holding for a long time. I've gone back and forth for a while now about whether I should actually even talk about this idea and topic here. I mean, there are a lot of topics I won't discuss here-- or in general. I like to stick to easy, non-confrontational conversations, ya know? Anyway, I guess I should start this by saying, I'm in no way trying to upset or offend people-- I'm just sort of spilling my personal life thoughts here, like I typically do.
I've let out a lot of my thoughts on christmas over the years. I typically struggle with Christmas for a few reasons. Sometimes because of the gift aspect, a lot of the time because of the expectations we all place, or just because I felt bummed that Alex wasn't around. In general, I tend to get pretty sad around the holidays/end of year season. This year was the first year where I felt pretty okay around the holidays. Good--- or great even. (I wrote about that HERE) But when Christmas eve actually came around, my mind (and mood) changed once again. I woke up, not mad, not happy, just feeling uneasy. In efforts to try to raise my own spirits and bring a bit of light to Marlowes day, we packed up and headed to my brothers. But on the way home, turning on the radio, I listened to a story on about a homeless shelter in Miami and the good they were doing for families on Christmas and I cried a bit in the car. First, I felt bad that I hadn't given up my very obviously free day to do some good. And second, because I just couldn't figure out a way to really get across to Marlowe what I felt Christmas should be outside of Santa. Not in a way that would work for me, that she could understand. I wanted her to understand that this day was about family first, but every effort to explain this to my four year, came back to a question about opening presents. I wanted her to understand that sometimes there are no presents, or cookies, or whatever, and that it should still be celebrated, because it is a day of love--- and giving love, not just giving presents. But for her, all she knows Christmas to be is the day where she is, yes, with family, but opening presents. Arriving back home I once again sat, struggling with my own emotions and what I personally wanted out of the day. What I wanted was to be happy, comfortable, and for Marlowe to feel Christmas magic and love. But what I felt, was uneasy and bummed. Subsequently feeling even more saddened that it would be my own fault that Marlowe wouldn't feel *christmas magic*
That night when Alex came home, I told him that I would prefer not to celebrate christmas anymore. He listened to my thoughts and agreed.....
We've already made our own steps and efforts to create a christmas that would work for our family. Our tree was our first move this year. And it absolutely helped, but it wasn't enough. Alex and I opted not to gift each other presents this year, which was also nice, but brought about a whole other issue, a question from Marlowe to "why do you and daddy not have presents? just me?" --- we didn't think that one through. We've kept our tradition with pizza christmas, which was great, but again, it doesn't fix the problems I have with extra gifts, sales, and just general things that Christmas will indisputably bring.
You know, I don't think Christmas is a bad thing. I love the ideas behind it. But I do feel like the focus from the meaning has shifted and continues to shift. For me, I don't like the consumerism culture that we're wrapped in. And maybe, me being here on internet land, it seems even more apparent--- but it's a bit overwhelming the amount of buy buy buy sell sell sell that exists (always, but especially) around the holidays. I find problems in the quantity over quality norm. And you know, it's not that I think presents are a bad thing, I don't. But it's just that--- now with black friday, actually starting on thursday, a day we're supposed to sit with our loved ones and be thankful for what surrounds us, we're losing more and more our true moments of reflection and family. I don't know what sales are happening or how long they'll go on for and I don't really care. Not for one minute do I want to think or preoccupy my passing family time with what thing I need/should buy.
Will there still be gifts around us for the holidays? I'm sure there will be, but for my own home, we now plan to opt out. Yes, we made the decision for each other as a couple this year, but I look forward to making that action for Marlowe as well. Do I feel like she will be missing out not unwrapping presents at Christmas in our home? No. Not everyone celebrates Christmas-- sure many do, but she won't be the only child in the world without a christmas tree or a fat man coming. And more than anything, I feel confident in this decision for her, because every single night around one or two AM, I make my way into her bedroom, remove the pile of books that have accumulated on top of her, and pull her comforter over her, tucking her bedding in tight. And every single night, without fail, she smiles in her sleep... and I smile too. She's happy. Really happy. She has a good life and it's apparent in her mood everyday and her sleepy smile every night. A present under a tree doesn't give her that smile, our happy home and presence does.
We plan to celebrate outside our home, just like we would for any other holiday with friends. The same way I love celebrating passover with Laura's family even though I'm not Jewish or the same way I'll wish my mother a happy Easter, even though I'm not Christian. We'll gracefully continue celebrating the meaningful moments with others during the holiday season.
It's just that, if you strip the presents idea away from Christmas, the only real 'reason for the season' is Christ. Personally, I don't hold these beliefs. I grew up with these ideas. And yes, as an angsty teenager I would even say I was against many these ideas, but now I can comfortably say, I understand those beliefs, I'm okay with those beliefs. I can see value in those beliefs, but their just not for me. If Christ can bring the values of love, kindness, and selfless giving out in others, then I'm a big supporter in Christ and Christmas. But for me, without the real (birth of Christ) meaning of christmas, I'm left with presents that I don't feel my family needs. And without presents, I'm left with Christ. And so what am I left with? Well, a guess I'm left with an understanding that I'm finally comfortable enough to say: I don't want to do Christmas in our home anymore, and I feel okay with this. Because if you strip away those things, then I'm left with my family: my real reason to rejoice in the season--- any season. And lucky for me, I celebrate my family every single day, no pre-determined marking on a calendar or wrapped up gift will change, waiver, or enhance the way I feel about my family or the people in my life.
ps. marlowe will still have the one or (sometimes) two gift birthday deal, again, not anti presents completely. &I still think christmas lights are really magical looking.