Saturday, November 25, 2006


Isn’t that a wonderful word, coined — as far as I can tell — by Franklin of The Panopticon)? Otherwise known as XSmas (you can work that out!) is not my favourite time of year. Apparently the Silly Season went into high gear yesterday, the day after the US Thanksgiving, when everybody goes out and shops ’til they drop. Yuck. I’m really trying not to be too Scrooge or Grinch-like, but it’s all just Too Much and it was making me seriously crazy. So I decided a number of years ago to pare my celebrations right down. I don’t do presents, except sometimes for the little ones if I feel like it. Sometimes I get around to sending out cards, sometimes not. The family has gotten used to it now, I think. I try not to feel guilty and if someone gives me a present, I thank them very much but don’t feel like I need to reciprocate. I’m sorry if shops threaten to go out of business or craft sales poop out because I don’t do my bit to keep the wheels of free enterprise going. I really can’t stand shopping for other people. Go buy yourself something nice and thank me for not having to figure out what I want/need this year. I’ve already got it, thanks much.

My biggest problem is trying to blot out all the zillions of sales ads, tacky decorations and incessant carols. It’s really hard not to let it all get to me. I actually have to work at putting it into better perspective. I know there are a lot of people who love all this stuff, but I’m not one of them. No, I didn’t have an unhappy childhood! However I don’t remember things being quite this ridiculous when I was a child. No decorations going up before Halloween. No interminable buy-buy-buy from all sides. I still love the lights and tasteful decorations (even some not-so-tasteful ones). We have a real tree. I love the family get-togethers and the cooking and the eating and drinking and being merry. It’s so important in the darkest time of the year to have something to work towards, look forward to and celebrate. But the gods of commerce have gotten hold of this season and are trying to kill it for me.

Still another thing I hate about this time of year is the plethora of charities that want your money. Constantly. Phone calls and flyers and advertisements. Sorry but I pick one thing to donate money to and it has to be something that is personal and relevant to me and that doesn’t waste anything on bureaucracy. No fat-cat management, no mail-outs, no annoying soliciting. This year it’s going to be the care home that my mom spent her last few years in. They are lovely caring people and I know they will use the money for something useful to benefit the residents.

I’m not a Christian or religious in any way, so that part of it is lost on me. I prefer to celebrate Winter Solstice (despite it also having religious overtones) because it is a real event. Scientifically proven. Inarguable. The earth rotates around the sun. It’s all good!

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. There are a number of different approaches to avoiding/reducing/chilling this season down to something resembling sanity. There is a lot of baggage attached to Christmas though, so it’s hard to forge a new path. It takes guts and determination and humour. I hope I’ve got enough to last me another whole month. I’m working on it. Anyway, here in the Land Of Incessant Rain it actually snowed a teeny bit today. Leetle teensy flakes that didn’t settle. Suddenly I feel Winter-ish.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Christmas over-do is a big city thing? Here in PR it's very much lower key. The local craft sales figure prominently and folks shop 'local'

I just pared back my card list to those who actually send a card back or otherwise have earned it.

Gifts: we have switched to gift cards and now have eliminated the big bill for postage and the hassle of shopping. The only decision is which card to get? My local Safeway has racks of 'em from all different stores and businesses and so I didn't even have to make a special trip.

While we haven't gone 'full against' Christmas, we have made inroads into making the season more manageable and affordable for us.

We concentrate on the Solstice aspect too and I love the lights, which is what the Solstice is all about... return of the light!

Ya gotta do what you gotta do to get through and out the other side and into a whole new shiny year!


Anonymous said...

Hi Louisa - found you through Fiber Femmes. And, hey - you are NOT alone in your chagrin with what has happened to Christmas. I am a Christian, and (maybe surprisingly enough) I feel the same way you do about it! I love the lights, and just do as much as I can to stay out of the whole commercialization thing! Cheers! and Happy Solstice!
~Linda in Virginia