I know that some of you might not like what I’m about to say, and others won’t be surprised at all… so here goes. I don’t like tradition. For the majority of the year, this isn’t much of a problem. I don’t do anything special for any birthday, and never buy anyone else presents (hey, I don’t ask for them either), and just go to the bathroom when I think everyone is going to start singing or cutting the cake. Every other day is normal. I’m a pretty spontaneous guy, and the people in my life know and respect that.
But along comes Christmas. With its holiday time off, shopping becomes a nightmare, and there’s so much expectation. So much. We’re all forced to celebrate some holiday which the pagans are trying to wrestle back from the Christians, but honestly is just as much the billionaire capitalist athiest’s celebration as anyone elses. Including people who religiously disagree but are so bombarded with Christmas marketing and tradition they figure they may as well have the family lunch, or the presents, because what else are they ongoing to do? Nothing’s open.
And unlike Easter, or Halloween, or whatever it is, my family are adamant that I spend Christmas with them. Bless them, over the years they really have tried to accommodate me. I’ve never have turkey, or the usual Christmas spread, presents are exchanged white elephant style, or as prizes for games, or in a game of pass the parcel, and they always find the most unusual Christmas crackers to fill out the table. I do it because I love them, and because at least theres some difference.
That all changes this year. I recently started seeing someone who I really quite like. I’ll say this because I’ll never let her read this blog, but I’ve never fallen for someone like this. It feels special. So of course she has to be obsessed with Christmas. I mean, frightingly obsessed.
She has about seven different Christmas jumpers (which she’ll start wearing the minute it’s officially December), not to even mention the accessories. She buys a real tree every year which she decorates until it can barely stand, and she loves to cook for her family. I mean, why does the perfect woman somehow have to have one fatal flaw?
This story does have a happy ending, I promise. She was equally baffled by my hatred as I was her love, so it stood to reason that we have several long discussions to come to not only an understanding of each other… but more importantly, a compromise. I certainly didn’t get my way. Instead, she asked me why these holiday traditions, especially Christmas, were such a sore point for me. Would you believe it, there was a reason deep down under all that resentment.
It feels fake. Like I said to her that night, I just hate the idea that we all seem to need a reason to see our families, forced together with no way out, and that growing capitalist greed has taught us to go crazy with presents, that we’ve owed them, even when you really can’t afford it. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving presents to my friends and family. From paying for a meal you shared to giving them things you saw passing by that you thought would make them smile. I like to show my love and affection clearly, without a doubt that my intentions were pure. I know that sounds a bit silly, and not everyone feels obligated to gift one day a year. But it’s just how I feel. I also feel that all this festive tat is just us being conned out of our money for no good reason. Clout on Instagram, or Pinterest, maybe.
She agreed that in our modern age, fun and well-meaning traditions have turned sour in light of mass production, mass markets, and this hunger for things we all seem to have now. Which is why, don’t call me crazy, we designed our own tradition. Well, more of a mix between my parent’s attempts, and my girlfriend’s. No tat! Every decoration must either be thrifted, or made themselves, and be used until they are literally falling apart. Only one small and sensible gift can be exchanged on the day. If you intend on more throughout the year, you may gift cards which have some sort of clue or hint as to what it might be. Then they can be gifted spontaneously. Everyone elects one starter or nibbly, one main, and one dessert for dinner. This ensures everyone gets something they want, and aren’t confined to ‘classic’ foods.
My parents were very happy to hear the changes… and I think they’re already planning my wedding. As you can probably innagine, I’m not a big fan of them either.