Mid-flight back to Georgia, the fasten seat-belt sign is on and my tray table is full of Starbucks coffee, one cream, KIND oats and honey granola bar, bag of pretzels. Christmas is the next time we’ll be back in Minnesota. Gives me anxiety thinking about presents, wrapping paper, saving receipts. Ugh. Here’s my case against Christmas.
For the record, I’m entirely anti-Christmas. 100% sympathetic with Scrooge. And yes, the opinions below likely aren't winning me many friends. But still.
As an atheist, commemorating Christ’s birth is fundamentally antithetical to my worldview.
Even naked of religious sentiment, as a secular gift-giving holiday, I’m against the nauseating over-consumption of material goods.
Nevermind that gifts under the Christmas tree somehow gets twisted into an expression of charitable giving, when in fact they’re self-indulgence at worst a family soaking in the latest fads at best.
Last year, the best gift I received was a package containing four pairs of Adidas Tiro 15 training pants. They qualify as “best” on utilitarian grounds: in the 300 days since last Christmas, my legs have been wrapped in these Adidas garments during at least 290 of them. That said, I’d still eliminate this official day of gift giving even though I benefit(ted) because I think 3rd party gift giving is incredibly inefficient. One of the principles of free market capitalism is that the price of a good reflects the demand for that good. By giving someone something, the gift is almost always under appreciated, simply because if it was really desired, it would have already been purchased. The same is true with the Adidas pants. Even though I cherish them.
I’m aware of what psychologists dub “love languages” and how one specific language is physical expressions of love which would include material gifts. I still object. I don’t give Kate anything. An expensive ring speaks less of my commitment or fidelity, and more of my discretionary income. Even an inexpensive and thoughtful gift, something hand-made perhaps, says less about my day-to-day empathy and support and more about a one-time show.
Leaning more and more toward secular Buddhist paradigms of meditation, yoga and non-attachment, an annual ceremony of gift giving seems only to shift focus back toward tickling the ego, indulging pleasure. Why would I take a step back on the treadmill?
Instead of snorting a line of retail speed, going through motions I’m wholesale opposed to and yet by participating, passively endorse, why not a day that stands for something I actually actively believe in? Buy Nothing Day, Spend The Whole Day Outside Day, No Phone Day, No TV Day, 30,000 Steps Day, 108 Sun Salutation Day, Fasting Day, THC Therapy Day!
Supporting the myth of Santa Claus to preserve children’s sense of magic, fantasy and wonder is also out of the question. Yearlong toy production by elves and global gift deliverance in a single night defies logic and only serves to promote stupidity, not wonder. As far as mystery and awe, step outside and walk in the woods to marvel at nature’s jaw dropping abundance and magic. Christmas-time is abound with natural wonder: falling snow, Northern Lights, the spark and flame of fire. Why do we need a myth incarnated to prop up Amazon’s predecessor consumer good distributors?
Boycotting Christmas sets a value precedent of skepticism and independent thinking. From gender roles to factory farming, so few people think critically about the fabric of western lifestyle. And yet, with the globe literally melting, our survival depends on such an awakening of intellect.
Generosity, surely, is a virtue. I anticipate proponents of Christmas will argue this. Stingy, I could use extra practice with rituals of generosity. But every moment of every day is an opportunity for spontaneous displays of generosity. And this generosity need not be monetary or material. Emotional generosity, for example, can be just as powerful a gift. Why wait for a Judeo-Christian sanctioned holiday to practice the virtues we ardently believe in?
We are a family of 3 surviving on 20k per year. We live below the federal poverty line. Which is fine. But we don’t have enough money to prudently run our family ship and hemorrhage dollar bills on frivolous gifts.
As a first-time father, I want to shape my daughter’s life to reflect MY values, 31 years in the making. Not cancerous and contradictory calendar-markings of an outdated American culture. The idea of sitting underneath the Christmas tree with the aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas reenacting wrapping paper rituals makes me feel like a vegetarian trying to swallow the Christmas ham just to please the cook.