I absolutely love Christmas. I love seeing my family and friends, eating good food, and giving people I love gifts that show my appreciation for all they do for me. I love decorating the tree and singing Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate while wearing a hideous sweater with snowmen on it. I even love those cheesy Hallmark movies where people find love on Christmas Eve.
But the whole holiday season, there’s always a feeling of discomfort bubbling under the surface. Put simply, I’m not Christian. In fact, I am not religious at all and have serious problems with the current state of organized religion. So when I see nativity scenes or bumper stickers that say “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” I feel a little pang, and wonder if my love for Christmas should be toned down. I feel guilty I don’t know more about other holidays being celebrated during this time.
Of course, there are many other issues I have with Christmas. For a start, it’s become so commercialized it’s utterly ridiculous. Even as a non-religious person, I realize how far Christmas has shifted from a religious celebration of the champion of the poor and sick. It’s such a hard time for people who are poor or otherwise struggling, because they feel societal pressure to buy things and to be “in the Christmas spirit.” The traditional narrative of the birth of Jesus is a flat out lie that shockingly underrepresents people of color. Also worth a mention—the holiday was stolen from the Pagans in the first place.
Speaking of flat out lies—Santa. Now, I realize the reasons that telling kids the story of Santa Claus and the North Pole is appealing. The capacity to believe in magic is remarkable. But here again we see a primarily white and Eurocentric view of the world. And we are setting up small children for absolute devastation later in life. It’s a difficult balance. I don’t have the answer, but I’m not sure I will feel comfortable explicitly telling my future children Santa is real.
With all of that being said… I still love Christmas. I am still going to go home in ten (!) days and sing carols at the top of my lungs and stare in awe at the lights on the tree and smile for family pictures until my face hurts. I am still going to tear up a little when I realize how lucky I am.
The important thing is that I will be with people who love me and who I love. And any day when that happens is pretty perfect to me.