The Perfect Christmas (repost)

This post was originally published November 20, 2012 (my how things have changed, and yet, in may ways stayed the same). We have resolved the tree crisis. This year my Inner Perfectionist was/is too burnt out by COVID concerns to care much. I was too exhausted to light candles to celebrate the Solstice, perhaps another night, they’re all long and dark these days anyway.


It isn’t even December yet, and Christmas is already making headlines. Can we please let Thanksgiving dinner digest first?! I am so tired of hearing about “Black Friday” sales, predictions, and atheists trying to “shut down Christmas.” Let it go people.

There’s a poll out and an accompanying NBC headline “Why One Poll says 45% Would Rather Skip Christmas” which essentially says that most Americans are unprepared for “holiday spending” and

Although many of these consumers are on better financial footing and optimistic about their economic future this year, the holidays are still a source of stress and strain on their precarious finances, Think Finance said in the poll.

No, really?

Precarious finances aside, the holidays are a source of stress and strain anyway. Everything MUST BE PERFECT, or so says my Inner Perfectionist from the dark recesses of the closet my Inner Realist has locked it.

I admit, my Inner Perfectionist did escape long enough to get cards ordered in early November, but my Inner Realist made them postcards (instead of full-color tri-fold with coordinating photo ornament), and candid photos of the kids (instead of hiring a professional, or going some place scenic with the express intent of getting THE PERFECT FAMILY PHOTO).

I also refrained from sending what my husband deemed to be “inappropriate” Christmas cards (what, they’re all screaming Jesus is the Reason for the Season, what’s wrong with a stark reminder?! Actually, Axial Tilt is the reason we have seasons Jesus is just the justification for the presents, but I wasn’t allowed to put that either*). Now I have to decide if I want to hand-address the 110 cards or print off mailing labels. These decisions!

The biggest problem with Christmas is we don’t have a fireplace, so we don’t have a mantle, so not only do we NOT HAVE A PLACE FOR SANTA** to come in, we also don’t have a place to hang our coordinating homemade (by me in a fit of over-achieving) stockings. My Inner Perfectionist is really freaking out about this – good thing it is locked in the closet!

We also don’t have a live Christmas tree anymore, the kids pulled up the drip system that was watering it so it died this summer. It had been with us for 2-3 Christmases now and had outlived my husband’s prediction of “it won’t last past New Year” (that was in 2010).

So I’m a little freaked out by the no-tree situation. Do I buy another potted one? I like this idea best. Do we chop down a live one? Maybe, but they drop needles everywhere. Do we *gasp* get a pre-lit artificial one? – my husband feels very strongly AGAINST this last idea -I tend to agree because we have no room to store the blasted thing.

Christmas also means struggling with explaining to my mother/MIL that the boys really don’t need any more toys. They have plenty, they’re usually happiest with the cardboard boxes we bring back from Costco and an old sheet, or some old paint brushes and a bucket of water so they can “paint” the fence. A little broom will keep them happy for a good half an hour as they push dirt and mulch across the patio. They do not need more gimmicky, plastic, noise-making, battery-operated, character licensed crap (there are exceptions to this rule but they are far and few between).

The biggest issue I’m facing is one the kids are happily oblivious to, since I no longer self-identify as Christian, are we really celebrating Christmas? Kid1’s school has a Winter Faire and Advent Circle, they have “Sprites Night” (a fall festival around Halloween), and celebrate a few other festivals and seasonal events throughout the year.

Christmas is a wonderful mid-winter festival with a focus on family and togetherness. Bringing fresh greenery inside reminds us that the winter will end (eventually), and the lights on the tree twinkle in the growing dark of late afternoon. Hot chocolate, peppermint, and ginger cookies are tasty. What isn’t to like about a holiday that promotes such things?

We have managed to take a wonderful mid-winter celebration which was initially reveling over the sun’s triumph the dark days of winter, into an overly commercialized mess involving a fat man in a red suit and flying reindeer with some over-bearing Christian iconography kicked in for good measure.

I am NOT offended by nativity scenes, or cities that want to erect Christmas trees, if people would like to celebrate Christ’s birth that’s cool (killing people over Black Friday deals is NOT), but please don’t get offended when someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” – Christmas isn’t the only thing going on from November-February (that and the concept of Paxmas, while really cool, takes a bit of explaining).

*And by “allowed” I had no real intent of putting them on the cards anyway, the “disapproving” phone call from my mother/MIL is more than enough to discourage those sorts of things. The generic “happy holiday season” we already put on the cards causes enough grief.
*I don’t think we’ve actually bothered to tell the kids about Santa and I don’t see any reason to… he’s a not real, sort of like God and the Easter Bunny… the difference is I like the Easter Bunny, he leaves chocolate eggs.
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Update: More great articles: “It’s time to ban Christmas presents” “Why are retailers ruining Thanksgiving” and “Holiday Travel Tips from the TSA” (don’t bother bringing food).

5 thoughts on “The Perfect Christmas (repost)

  1. Jaycie Bee says:

    I really loved this. two years ago I might not have understood. I’m getting further and further away from Christmas as we knew it. Realizing I’m offending with “Happy Holidays” in my “holiday letter” in which I did not even Mention Christmas — but not caring Can’t explain to my husband that the creche has no meaning for me anymore. We have no place to put it in our new home. Can’t it just stay packed away in the attic? Is it why the one we gave to our son and his ex-wife no longer finds its way out of the attic of his and his new wife’s house? They stopped believing long before it even occurred to me.

    Every year I give donations of my children and grandchildren’s choice to whatever charities they choose. I cried over grandson’s choice of Columbus Community Shelter Board. (Homeless) Why does this mean so much more than the endless shrimp and cheeseballs and candy canes and who knows what all my husband insists on buying for us every year?

    thanks for reposting.

    >

    • kat says:

      It is a yearly struggle for me. How much do I actually *want* to do? How much will I *volunteer* for? How much will I *feel pressured* into doing? I got holiday cards out with over-the-top adorable photos of the kids, we have stockings, and the tree up, but I’m not really feeling “festive” or “merry.” The Christmas season feels like a runaway train, barreling towards the end of winter vacation, then we pack it all away until next year, and start the madness all over again. Every year I try and convince myself it will be “different” and while the post is nearly a decade old, not much has changed!

  2. Ashley P says:

    It’s been about 20 years since I made a BIG effort to step out of the modern madness that we call Christmas.

    I told everyone I was close to — Look, I love that Christ came to Earth. But the fact that he did, has NOTHING to do with the stressed-out frenzy of buying gifts, going to parties, fa-la-la-la-la-ing, decorating better than the neighbors –the *BUY THIS NOW* mindset that nowadays accompanies “Christmas cheer”.

    It’s insanity!

    I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told everyone, I’m not buying gifts anymore, except for little children in my family. I’m not decorating. I’m not going to one single Christmas event. And I didn’t, and I haven’t.

    Even if you live in the midst of this extremely stressful holiday bonanza, you can still make a choice to step out. Remember everyone — you don’t “HAVE” to do all the Christmas mania. You CAN make a choice to say, “I’m going to keep it simple. No or few gifts, skip the decorating, skip the parties. I’m making a conscious choice to stay sane!”

    Like I said, I’m so grateful that Christ came to Earth. But I can feel that gratitude much more clearly if I opt out of the modern crazy Christmas, and just think about it quietly and gratefully, at home.

      • Ashley Patel says:

        Yes I can understand that. I don’t hardly have any family anymore (so many have passed away), certainly none that would invite me for Christmas. So in that regard, it’s easier for me to “opt out”.

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