Here comes Santa Claus.

I have issues with Christmas. It’s the same problem I have with Easter.

We observed the major holidays growing up because my mother is a believer. My dad was agnostic for most of his adult life though he’s switched back to the beliefs of his childhood now that he’s old. In a casual way – formal Catholicism isn’t his jam.

My mother’s Anglican and that’s the church we were all baptized in. My son was baptized Anglican as well, though at that time I was already questioning my adherence to religious practices that are from a faith I don’t fully believe in. [i]

I mostly considered baptism hedging my bets. I was very worried about SIDS and so I wanted to make sure heaven was an option for my son should the unthinkable happen. [ii]

It didn’t, and we continued to do Easter and Christmas with enthusiasm. Who doesn’t love an egg hunt, chocolate, and a new spring outfit? Who doesn’t love stockings waiting for presents and gifts sitting under the brightly lit Christmas tree?

Christmas in Vancouver, 2018

Yet underneath the pomp, I remain aware of my hypocrisy. I celebrate these holidays as a matter of habit and societal custom, but that’s all. I don’t celebrate Hannukah because I’m not Jewish and though I believe in God and the afterlife, I’m not Christian.

I don’t believe Jesus was the literal son of God and I don’t believe the story of the resurrection on a literal level. I like some parts of the Bible very much, especially the New Testament, but to me, it’s less the verbatim word of God and more Marcus Aurelius. It’s lovely writing and nice philosophy some of the time. [iii]

I’m going to reread some Marcus. I enjoy him.

This is not to say I don’t believe in God. I do. I think I’m even monotheistic, though I don’t discount lesser entities no matter what one calls them – angles, demigods, fairies. The world is a place of wonder and miracles and to think we understand it or God is rank arrogance.

Try comprehending advanced physics or cosmology first. To my thinking, once one fully comprehends those, God will be much easier.

Still, I do like presents and decorating the house. And I’ve become a huge fan of the Advent Calendar.

When I was a child, we did the Advent candles. I loved lighting the candles once a week in the run-up to Christmas day. I loved the pretty wreath sitting on the table. I don’t do it myself, but it’s a fond memory.

We didn’t do Advent Calendars, however. These are a newish thing, the ones filled with stuff. And though my mother complains about “kids today” and the incredible, materialistic, filled-with-stuff lives we have in developed nations, she bought calendars filled with chocolates for her grandkids every year until they were teens. [iv]

They were okay. In the early days, the chocolate was marginal – Lindor and Purdy’s hadn’t yet jumped on the Advent train. The thrill of getting a bit wrapped in the thinnest foil imaginable outweighed the lack of quality for the kids. And my eating disorder isn’t picky when it’s lit. It sees chocolate and wants chocolate, and isn’t into delayed gratification.

I prefer the Advent calendars that are full of stuff, though the chocolate ones of today are delicious. But nothing says “Jesus” like twenty-four days of socks.

I opened day three of my Sephora advent calendar today. It’s a napkin ring. So far, I’ve opened a beauty blender (it used to be called a sponge) and a tube of hyaluronic acid. I’m underwhelmed. Perhaps it’s karmic punishment – this is my second Advent calendar this year. The first one arrived the first week of November and that was too early for my self-control. It lasted ten days before I opened it all.

In my defense, it was only a two-week one, so I wasn’t unboxing a month’s worth of greed. But I want more and cooler stuff and I know that it’s all behind little doors in a box in my bedroom. What is Christmas about if it isn’t about buying and spending big coin? The best thing you can do for Jesus is to make sure Hollister and Amazon have a profitable quarter.

And if someone sent me the five-figure Jimmy Choo advent calendar, I wouldn’t complain, even though it only offers seven days of lux.

I will obviously be practicing my walking.

The veneration of greed is why I struggle. I’m not Christian, but the tenets and philosophies I pursue have much overlap. They’re not unique – the rules for living a good life are fairly consistent across religions and philosophies. It’s people who screw them up, mostly because of greed and a lust for power.

The former I definitely understand. We all want shiny things.

Meanwhile, I’m going to spend large chunks of today arguing with myself about the date. A disappointing reveal doesn’t mean I get to turn today into the fourth, my reptile brain’s nagging notwithstanding. But that beggars a philosophical question – is greed more palatable when stretched over a longer period of time?

And what does one do with a single cardboard napkin ring – and there better not be four.

Huh. I can see everything. I’m not gonna look. At least there’s only one ring.

[i] Catholicism was out of the question even with all of its questionability. There’s a process for marrying someone of a different faith and my dad didn’t do that. I’m not sure the Catholic church would even recognize their marriage or our legitimacy. That thrilled me a bit as a child, to be honest. It felt dark and rebellious.

[ii] Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The first six months were very stressful for me. I’m surprised my son was able to sleep at all, what with my regular checks of his breathing.

[iii] I grew up with the King James Bible. I find the plain language offerings boring and unlovely.

[iv] My parents have always been a bit “when I was a child,” and “one true way.” They’re “walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways” fairly regularly.


29 thoughts on “Here comes Santa Claus.

  1. I nodded along to a lot of this! My dad is an Anglican Vicar – retired, but you never stop being a vicar. For years I went to church, sometimes two services on a Sunday, because for a while Dad was in charge of two parishes, and my brother and I were in the choir in each one. When I walked away from the church after a few years in Canada, it was the Christmas services I missed most. But I can’t reconcile going back for one service a year out of nostalgia.
    This year, I don’t have an advent calendar, though in past years I’ve treated myself to a Lego Star Wars one. The child in me does goggle at the notion of a new toy EVERY DAY! Part of the fun of being married to my wife is that she’s the kind of person who likes to keep stuff to a minimum – you should be able to fit everything you need in the back of the car and take off at a minute’s notice. And I’m a clutter monkey, hanging on to all kinds of things “just in case”, and longing for yet another shiny gadget that might make me more efficient, or capable in some way.
    I think I’ve come around to a secular Christmas, though I still wince when I see the character in the movie say “And that’s what Christmas is about – family!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point. When I think about missing church, it’s the nostalgia over the pomp and procedures I recall, not the sermons. The first church I went to without prayer benches for kneeling hurt my brain.

      I like the idea of being able to travel light – I’m not a one-bag person, however. I’m not quite at my parent’s level, but I do love my stuff (especially books and stuffed animals).

      I’ve come to realize that when someone includes the phrase, “that’s what Christmas is about,” they’re not even in the stadium.
      Thanks for a lovely comment 💖

      Like

  2. I’m fascinated that there’s a Jimmy Choo advent calendar even though my foot just hurts looking at that picture.

    I had grand visions of doing a reverse advent calendar project with my kids this year – giving something or doing something nice for every day but I haven’t gotten it organized and now it seems like I’ve missed the boat. Maybe we can do giving on the weekends.

    I think that whatever our belief systems is, being intentional about consumption and giving is called for in this season. Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this idea. I think I’m going to implement it next year. I see the advent calendars with boxes one can fill oneself – I think I could put paper notes of things to do. Thank you 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I clearly need to reconsider advent calendars. I’ve never had one, though my kids got a couple from relatives while growing up—the terrible chocolate ones. I’m not a big chocolate person (love me all the salty snacks, though), so they never had any allure for me. But, Jimmy Choo?! Now you’re talking my language!

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Hmmm a cracker calendar…. I just have some basic ones on hand always, so that works. Also, I found out that cheese and wine don’t need crackers. Or even cheese by itself can almost be like a piece of chocolate – the star of the show.

          I went to the store in November to get it and it’s been in the fridge since.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the first Christmas I’ve been buying myself things as I shop for others, but it usually doesn’t occur to me to spoil myself during Christmas. Perhaps an advent calendar is in the cards for next year.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a good thing. I find I often put myself last. I went Christmas shopping last week and while I did accomplish a lot, I also came home with a cute handbag I probably didn’t need. It’s adorable though.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Right? Among all the things they need to add to what is taught in schools, teaching girls that they don’t have to put themselves last all the time would be a good one. We take that one into our bones.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The Sephora box pic. On one hand – I love it because you know what you’re getting (i.e. that you might not want to get it if you don’t want what is inside; I hate it when I get something and it doesn’t meet my requirements). However, I like the calendars for their mystery. Yet another one of life’s conundrums.

    Back in the day, I like the chocolate ones but… there were always some that I didn’t like but it was too late because they made it into my mouth before I could tell what they were. I’ve done a tea calendar a few years back and doing a cheese one this year. It seems they are all mixed bags. They have to satisfy not just me but so many others with weird tastes. I still don’t understand why that is.

    Christmas has always been magical to me – the religious part, the family, food, weather, gifts. Then, it all lost its magic… I am trying to slowly reinvent it and make it my own. I’ve been ‘formally’ religious all my life, with some hills and valleys. Being close to the hilltop this time around, I feel better about Christmas. We shall see how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I like the idea of a tea calendar. I gave up coffee a year ago, or rather if gave me up. I couldn’t stomach it after a nasty kidney infection. I’ve recently reconnected with tea, however. Irish breakfast is my favourite.

      I like the idea of trying to recapture the magic of something we loved. I hope it’s wonderful for you this year.

      Thanks for commenting 💖

      Like

  5. Yeah, you’re not alone. For a lot of people Christmas is largely about the traditions and material gains. We’re imperfect people but hopefully with time we’ll come around. Btw you should try the Old Testament. It has some awesome stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Marcus Aurelius! From what you said about what you believe in, you’re basically a Muslim in spirit 😆 there are many similarities between Islam and Christianity. My mom was a catholic until the reverted at age 20. She said she found discrepancies in the Bible and then she met my dad and he helped her become a Muslim. I find that many non-Muslims hold Muslim virtues and that is put in consideration on the day of judgment. After all, God is the most Merciful.

    Liked by 1 person

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