Insert appropriate seasonal greeting here.

The tree is up. It has no decorations this year but there’s a two-year-old in the house so the decision to go “only lights” is a logical one. I’m not interested in playing “find the ornament” ever again.

The décor is out as well; again, in a limited fashion and placed up high. The presents are wrapped and tucked away in my closet; the few cards I felt obligated to pen have been sent. Dinner is planned and since it will be at my parents’ house again, the work I have to do is minimal.

Other seasonal festivities have been announced. I have people coming here for our annual friend-klatch and I will attend an open house for part of Christmas Eve. I will then return home and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. My father hates that movie with a fiery passion but I love it, hokey-ness and all.

And, through it all, I will struggle with feeling like a hypocrite.

I was raised on Christmas. Then again I was raised Christian. And although I no longer consider that to be my religious designation, I still partake in the traditions. I celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Easter. The pull of the majority that surrounds you is a powerful thing.

Although Christian holidays have been corrupted by marketers, Christmas is, at the core, holy day. It’s become less than it should be, for all that people pile into pews the morning of, so I’m not alone in my observance with a lack of buy-in, but I still feel like a fake and imposter.

My “Christmas” décor is already secular. I no longer put up a creche or an advent wreath. I suspect that once my parents are gone, I will shift even further, make it explicitly a seasonal, present-free, family dinner. A get-together celebrating the year that has passed. A “Festivus for the rest of us” in name as well as thought and deed.

It’s not that I don’t like Christmas things; I do. I like the lights. I like the sense of seasonal camaraderie. I like getting gifts. I like giving them, too. But I feel like I’m doing it under a false flag. I don’t celebrate Chanukah or Kwanzaa or Pancha Ganapati or Diwali or the solstice in December, so why should I celebrate Christmas? But history is hard to escape.

To announce I feel conflicted about celebrating Christmas would hurt my parents. And I wonder, am I doing any harm? After all, Christmas is also about family. It’s a day when we get together and try to get along. It’s a day when we try to show each other that yes, love is still there.

Continuing the traditions of my parents is also about respect. I can have a different point of view. I don’t have to go out of my way to bludgeon them with it. I could, but to what end exactly? What would taking a dogmatic stand accomplish? Should I demand that they greet me with “Happy Festivus” so as not to offend? It’s why I like “Happy Holidays”. December is a busy month, religious holiday-wise: “Happy Holidays” is nicely inclusive.

I feel a little uncomfortable and hypocritical calling what I do every year at this time “Christmas” but that’s a “me” thing. I strive to remember it is not necessary to push our every truth, especially if doing so causes distress and harm and not doing so causes nothing worse than mild discomfort. Flexibility is almost always better than dogmatic adherence.

It’s okay to not put yourself first sometimes. In fact, it’s seasonally appropriate.

Happy Holidays.

Do you struggle with balancing your own needs against the needs of others? How do you prioritize?

11 thoughts on “Insert appropriate seasonal greeting here.

  1. Happy Holidays!

    I think it’s an easy choice between something you know (Christmas) and something you don’t know (Kwanza). If they are equal to you (i.e. you don’t hate Christmas), then celebrating in line with your history just makes sense to me. It’s a part of your culture.

    Yes, I celebrate Christmas and consider myself Christian. However, I am nowhere close to celebrating it as hard-core as my family used to back when I was a kid. I definitely try to keep the spiritual part of it up and minimize the commercial side of it all. Plus, I try to make it more… me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good point. I’ve been thinking a lot about history and culture of late. I don’t have any particularly interesting history in the personal vein (long line of middle and upper class white people who didn’t struggle), I’ve been meaning to explore the greater cultural heritage. Perhaps this is a good time.

      Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think people need to be honest and separate the religious from the secular – make it about your religious beliefs and go to church. Make it about fun and games and holly jolly – and then enjoy it as such. Party time! Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t celebrate. Instead I put all my friends back together again after they “celebrated” with their families. I’ve learned years ago that people just can’t say No even if it for their own mental wellness.

    Do you know what I say? Happy Wednesday (or whatever day it is)! 😁 I had a great day finishing up with some cleaning, then crocheting while watching replays of the world road cycling championships. Perfect!

    I will say Happy Holidays if a person starts with a holiday greeting, otherwise I say “have a great day” as I usually do. Even Happy Holidays assumes people are celebrating something. I feel it’s quite
    presumptuous. Not only that but there are more than a few people who want to celebrate but spend the day alone, lonely… and every happy holiday greeting is like a stab to their heart.
    I’d rather err on the side of caution than cause any pain.

    I will admit though that when people wish me a Merry Xmas, I’ll emphasize the Happy Holiday or Good Holiday to you. I live in a Christian dominant neighborhood and it irks me.
    It would never, in a million years, occur to them that I’m an atheist. I’m certainly not going to advertise it because I’ll be treated very differently.

    How unfortunate.

    So instead, I have a wonderfully stress free December!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bring the port in the storm that is all too often the holidays is a lovely, seasonal gift.

      That’s a good point about even generic wishes being painful. I didn’t think of that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe my perspective comes from feeling quite invisible at times. I don’t know if they have this where you are but every December holiday season, someone sits in the foyer of the grocery story, ringing a bell, seeking donations. Nearly everyone avoids eye contact at all cost. It’s rather sad. I used to do that also, out of guilt of not being able to contribute. This year though, every time I saw her, I asked her about her day or simply wished her well if I was in a hurry, despite not contributing. Or I made a joke about something so we could both laugh and relieve tension. In other words, I made a point of letting her know that someone sees her. So yeah, I guess the fact that I go out of my way to do such things is a way to heal the pain of my own loneliness. Ironically, the cure for my loneliness was to make sure others felt like they belonged. Interesting how pain can motivate one to positive actions.

        Most people wouldn’t think about wishes being painful. Perhaps I only did because of being the recipient of that for many years till I finally found my own way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree with the eye contact thing. You’re right, people have a tendency to avoid it, avoid the people that make us uncomfortable. Good for you for stepping out of that comport zone. I’m glad you found it helpful. And it’s a good point about the loneliness; we can mitigate it by reaching out. Too bad it’s so scary at times, even though mostly, people are nice.

          Liked by 1 person

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