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?
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]
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.
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.
[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.