My Christmas: From Awe To Hate To Appreciation

Christmas story

When I was just a little girl I believed in miracles, magic, and Santa. Today not much has changed, minus Santa, of course.

Just like any other kid, I felt that Christmas is the shit. It seemed to be the most dazzling and wondrous holiday of them all. Of course, most of my Christmas holidays were spent in front of the TV, either with my family or all by myself. And this is where most of the lights, miracles, and the illusion of joy would come from – the silver screen.

No wonder then that when I finally came to realise Santa is not real and when I started to notice the dispiriting lack of Hollywood-style Christmas festive in my own extended family households, I became resentful and soon announced my personal little war against Christmas and, therefore, against the whole Western world for a solid two months each year.

I don’t remember it being a particularly traumatizing experience finding out that Santa is a made-up character of our modern folklore. What bothered me the most, though, is all the lies. Even now, I think, nothing is more off-putting in any of my relationships than the idea that I’ve been lied to or, even more so, have been left with a promise unfulfilled, taking away a piece of my self-worth too.

What’s the point of putting in so much energy and time to convince your offsprings that there’s this mystical grandpa in a rather flamboyant costume living in Lapland, who travels around the globe once a year to reward the good kids, when you know that soon enough you’ll have to hurt their feelings by telling them the bitter truth, simultaneously exposing your own vulnerability as a parent to the silly cultural customs? Isn’t childhood magical enough without the fairy tales? Life is magical as it is and kids are much better at recognizing this than adults.

All Santas aside, as I was growing into a teenager and later into a young adult, the repetition of a pointless tradition started to bug me more and more. And more. Sure, there were those odd years when I would be inspired to get crafty with my presents, to get creative with my culinary experiments, or to get amusingly sentimental with my surprise visits back home. But my enthusiasm would nearly always be doomed to vanish as soon as it hit the face of reality. Because, apparently, just a few people in the world appreciate handmade gifts, a wide selection of your divine super-healthy vegan snacks pale in comparison in your folks’ eyes to the good old potato salad, fish, and meats cooked by everyone else, and the thrill of your surprises only lasts as long as the hugs and the hellos. Or at least that’s how I saw it through my own darkened goggles.

The grim repetitiveness of the celebration, and the odd feeling that the holiday happened way too often, was crippling my soul for years on end. The generous glass of red wine (sneaked from the table or, as an adult, back home) after all the family madness is finished was, most of the time, the best part of the holiday. The silence of a wrecked ship after the storm. Silence until next Christmas.

But now it’s somewhat different. I still think that it’s a forced-upon celebration, especially for those unreligious ones. And I still think that it’s a consumerism-based vicious circle we’re trapped in. But if you look past this whole nonsense, it’s just another neat occasion to have a little fun and cosy up with your beloved ones.

It’s a fact, though, that if you’re lonely as it is, the Christmas season is the most brutal one to handle. There’s so much pressure to spend this time with your closest ones, but if you have nobody, then what? This Christmas issue probably upsets me the most.

I might not be as inspired to craft handmade gifts to everyone I know, but I still love to get a little something to perhaps that one special someone. I don’t get manic with my culinary experimentations anymore as it might be just another sign of my control-freak nature that I’m learning to harness. Instead, I might bring something small with me to the dinner party and be more open to receive the considerate culinary efforts of my hosts. I might not be as sentimental with grand gestures and Hollywood-style surprises, but I still want to hear the voices of my beloved family and friends wherever I am. But, instead of getting out of my way to come back to what I used to call home for Christmas, I’m now much more interested in being here and now and celebrating a truly one-of-a-kind holiday with my current community, my adopted family – the people that surround me everyday and that, at the moment, I’m emotionaly involved with the most.

I don’t believe in Santa and I don’t believe in Christian God and his son Jesus. But I’m done playing a victim of our sociatal rules and regulations. Yes, not celebrating Christmas at all is an option, though a very tricky one to achieve. But you are free to choose how you celebrate it, how much and what you consume, how much and what you buy, if at all, and what kind of vibe do you send into your environment.

There’s plenty of things to dislike in this world but I choose to resist the hatred. Hatred only leads to more hatred that eventually suffocates your own soul (yes, I’m spiritual but not religious).

It’s the longest night of the year and this darkness we choose to counterbalance with dazzling Christmas lights in those cold city streets and our winter shelters. And we light ourselves up too with smiles, happy vibes, and those quite quirky polar party outfits. And oh yes, handmade home decorations, let’s have at least them handmade, hm?

So here’s a toast – I raise a glass of my fragrant mulled wine – to Christmas, the ones with less cynicism, less mindless obedience, less watching TV, and more of being silly and jolly with your mates.

Here’s to being open, kind, and cosy.

Because life, you know.

So put on your red shoes

and sparkle, baby, sparkle,

be your own Christmas tree

and by doing so

light up and warm up

the face of the one in front of you.

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