Friday, 24 December 2010

and so this is xmas

i don't celebrate xmas. no decorations, no tree, no presents, no family gatherings. it's not part of our tradition and we celebrate our holy days at different times in the year. so i look on at the whole christmas thing as a detached observer, untouched by what's going on but sometimes bemused.

my kids never believed in santa. i didn't ever bother with that particular myth, though for some reason i did go with the tooth fairy. go figure. i still remember when one of my girls was quite young, she was telling me about her day at school. they had had to write letters to santa, telling him what they wanted for xmas. i said to her "you know there's no such thing as santa, don't you?". she gave me that exasperated look the kids give their mothers, and said "yes, of course i know that, but my teacher doesn't!"

when i stopped laughing, i started to get annoyed. not because of the santa thing, but more because of the spirit of this activity. it was all about consumerism, about what you could get for yourself, and these weren't values i wanted my children to be growing up with. i would much rather they had to write a letter about what they would do for others for xmas. and that doing shouldn't about spending money to buy things, unless perhaps for the impoverished. it should be more about helping others, service, a look outwards rather a focus on the self.

it's hard to take the commercialism out of the image of santa. the use of santa at shopping malls to promote consumer spending really doesn't sit well with me. again, we have young children pressed to tell this old fellow what they want, of course with the purpose of pressuring parents into buying more stuff. but what values does it really teach?

it's such a pity because xmas could be about so much more, and i'm sure that for many people it is. for others, it's just a stressful time or a time of sadness eg see QoT on one variation of the subject. the sadness could be due the loss of someone close - thinking especially of the families of the lost pike river miners, those that died in the fox glacier plane crash, and all deaths from illness, accident, abuse or murder. there's the sadness for those who struggle financially and can't make xmas time the perfect time that popular culture tells us it should be, those who have lost their job or can't find one, who struggle on a benefit for any number of reasons, the abandoned, the lonely.

i won't be celebrating on saturday, but i'll be thinking of those of you who are. i know that we've struggled with the posting here over the last few months, because "real" life has taken up the time for many of our writers. but i hope they don't mind if i say, on behalf of all us, that i hope you have a relaxing and rewarding time over the next couple of weeks, or at least that you find some comfort. i'd like to thank all our readers for dropping by and contributing to our space. i'd like to thank and give e-hugs to my fellow writers here, for teaching me so much and for making me think about things in new ways or even think about things that i never bothered to give thought to.

kia kaha. have a good one.


Hugh said...

To be honest, I sometimes consider telling people I'm a Muslim rather than explain the real reason I don't celebrate Christmas.

Anonymous said...

What's the "real reason"? -- WilmaV

Deborah said...

My contributions here have faded in the last two or three weeks, but I'm pleading the sheer volume of things to be done as we shifted countries. I'm looking forward to being a much more active Hand Mirrorist once we have settled back in, towards the end of January.

It's so good to be home. Right now we are at my parents' place, and the family is starting to gather. That's what Christmas means to us. I guess that's somewhat disconnected from what some Christians would say is the real and only reason for Christmas, but given that the early Christian church simply imposed their festival on top of existing winter solstice festivals, I don't see any problem with the meaning of Christmas changing over time.

We've bought presents for our kids, but my brothers and I have a present-non-proliferation treaty. We have presents for each other - books and music that we know the other person will enjoy.

Merry Christmas to my lovely co-bloggers here, and to all our readers. May you enjoy celebrating, or not celebrating Christmas, just as suits you best, and may the New Year be peaceful and happy.

Hugh said...

Because it's effectively a gigantic ongoing advertisement for consumer products and I don't want to participate in that.

Brett Dale said...

Xmas for me is for two weeks off, to spend with time and family,and I must admit I like seeing my younger relatives all happy and exicted, its for the kids really.

Tanya said...

Still, it's a good time to reflect on the year past and to enjoy the thought of the year ahead. I do celebrate Christmas, despite its huge, silly commercialism. I just love the joy, and as a believer, the reason. Merry Christmas.


katy said...

I am atheist, my husband is a secular Buddhist and we don't have kids so Christmas in NZ for us is usually a day off (though he is working this year). No pressies and we usually do something nice together, eg, picnic at the beach but don't do a big meal. I buy gifts for my parents and siblings which I will give them next time I see them and in recent years these have tended towards the consumable. I guess I used to get caught up in it a bit when I was younger but living overseas and working somewhere where xmas is a normal working day desensitised me, as did travelling quite a bit in places where xmas is irrelevant. Anyway, so I will be having a low-key day tomorrow, sleeping in then dinner with friends.

Random Lurker said...

Writing letters to Santa... I guess you can't be too young to learn about disappointment in life...

Gift giving is fun and annoying simultaneously. But I only do it once a year per person, and doing it all in one go towards the end of the year suits me just fine (although I might pick up gifts over the course of the year).

I generally like giving books, but it is of course a poor choice for some Chinese people (as are clocks, umbrellas, fans, things wrapped in blue, white or black, odd numbers of things, pears, 4 things and greeting cards written in red ink).

Actually, I wouldn't mind knowing what might be unwise as a gift for people of other cultures as well.

I don't care much for religion and superstition but the giving of a gift isn't the time to pick that particular fight.

The other thing about Christmas is boxing day, which means amongst other things cricket and Doctor Who. The Christmas episode of QI was pretty good too.