“Are you a Christmas lover or a Christmas hater?,” my doctor asked me when I went in to have my back and hip adjusted yesterday. When I hesitated and said, “I’m tolerating it a lot better this year” and “I love Christmas lights” he said, “I’m putting you on my Christmas haters list. I am making a list of Christmas lovers and Christmas haters, the Christmas haters list is a very interesting list.” I didn’t protest. I have been known to say, “I hate Christmas!” in moments of yuletide overload.
But do I hate Christmas? It’s complicated. I loved making Christmas magical for my children when they were very little. Christmas Day was so much fun when we played games, made craft projects together, read the new books and built cities out of Legos with breaks for gingerbread waffles and Christmas dinner. I started to struggle with it when the over indulgent parents in my children’s classes started buying over-the-top presents for their kids. My kids stopped feeling as happy with the things we carefully and lovingly chose for them. A board game just doesn’t quite cut it, when your kid’s classmate comes to school bragging about his new snow machine. It made me sad that my kids starting showing disappointment mixed in with their happiness and I became increasingly frustrated by the materialism of it all. My kids had so much compared to the children I worked with in my social work job and so much compared to what I grew up with but they were too busy feeling being on the losing side of the comparison to their spoiled peers to notice the abundance in their lives. (Of course they do grow up and rediscover their blessings but it doesn’t make the disappointment easier to deal with in the moment!)
I’ve never quite recovered my enthusiasm for Christmas since then. All the waste of money and physical materials that happens when we buy things that people don’t really want or need (especially the useless plethora of plastic stocking stuffer baubles) that eventually ends up in the landfill really bothers me. I haven’t made peace with this Christmas angst but neither have I quit Christmas. I go along. I buy the stuff (carefully). I enjoy being with my friends and family. And I do love the Christmas lights.
I spend some time thinking about world peace and peace in my little town and in my own heart. I can’t help thinking that we might be a bit happier and a bit more peaceful without all the stuff. Can’t we just have Thanksgiving twice instead? But let’s have Christmas lights the second time around.