We eased our families into our decision not to participate in the tradition. I still decorated for the first couple of years of our marriage, but now we’ve settled into our nontraditional and uncomplicated winters.
Most people think the holidays have magic in them, that they bring out the best in people. But when you watch people fight over stuff to put under a tree and curse someone’s existence for a closer parking spot at Target the illusion starts to fall apart. When parents struggle to pay for decorations, to buy gifts their kids will complain about, to put food on the table, and to pay their bills, all in the name of Christmas I start to get uncomfortable.
I’m not uncomfortable that people want to participate. I’m uncomfortable that this “celebration” is pay to play and it’s costly. Christmas can breed jealousy over what others have and how great their family photos in their matching jammies turned out. It brings out frustration and entitlement as children wait for the high of ripping wrapping paper off of a gift only to give a lackluster response followed by a continuous loop of, “I want another present.”
These issues aren’t unique to Christmas, but this magical time of year magnifies our ingratitude. Couple that with social media and the comparison trap it creates and you’re on a hamster wheel of longing.
We wanted something different for ourselves and our children. Our tradition at Christmas is that we order breakfast, watch Christmas movies, make a big lunch, and play games together. It’s simple but impactful.
Wherever you find yourself in 2020, remember that it’s truly about more than the “stuff,” and try to be present and truly enjoy yourself this holiday season however you choose to celebrate it.