Christmas has become something rather different from what I remember as a younger version of myself.
I remember it to be celebratory, joyous, and a relaxing time.
Though I never really had a family tradition to celebrate the season, my mom would sometimes buy honey baked ham and log cake (chocolate!). We didn’t really do presents, though we did when I was much younger, or have a Christmas tree, but this simple gesture was enough to remind me that it was a time to indulge in a little food and have a little fun.
As a teenager, I remember attending gatherings, going to Orchard Road to see the lights, and enjoying the days leading up to it with friends. We would brave the crowds and sit somewhere to talk about the simple things that teenagers talk about.
As the years went by, I felt the vice of commercialisation tighten. I started to notice the ‘SALE’ signs everywhere, the advertisements for Christmas-sy products, and the promotions for ‘Christmas lunches and Christmas dinners’ at restaurants.
I started to resent ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchanges, the mad rushes to find something vaguely suitable, and the near-useless ‘gifts’ that ended up in everybody’s laps.
It was no longer about spending time with people I cared about. It had become a sideshow, about showboating, about who got the biggest, brightest present and how ‘lucky’ some people were to win the office prizes.
After a few years of this, I made a decision. I would no longer participate in these pointless gift exchanges and I would either spend my Christmas Day’s where I want to or stay at home.
As it turns out, this was one of my favourite decisions. Some may argue that I’m being oversensitive about the whole thing and others have tried to cajole me into joining in their versions of ‘celebrations’. I never caved.
Christmases in the most recent years are nothing like the ones I had when I was younger. They certainly don’t look as laugh-out-loud fun, but they are less meaningless to me now.
I take the time to think about the year that passed, and the one that is to come.
And, in case you wonder about my faith, Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, and I have very strong views about the christianisation of this ‘holiday’. I am not completely against the celebration of this day, but only if it is done with careful consideration, with the knowledge and understanding that this is a substitute celebration, and not a ‘holy day’ as it were.
You are free to do on this day as you please, just as you are on all the other days of the year.
As am I.