Bah humbug


Celebrations / Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Confession: You see the problem is, I think I am Ebenezer Scrooge.

I hate Christmas.

“??” you say. “I don’t think I caught what you just said.”

I hate Christmas!!

I cannot describe the panic of entering any shop in town by the middle of November and encountering cheap red velvet, artificial evergreen, garish tinsel, and the rin-tin-tinning of silver bells. I face a sensory assault almost equal to the ghoulish orange-black-and-gore one of the preceding month.

Why?

I can hardly say, and to those of you who find my words offensive or sacrilegious, I am deeply sorry.

I feel shame at being “the kind of person” (blech) who would skip the entire month of December if she could; who goes through the motions of celebration for the sake of happy childhood memories—my own and my kids’.

Can you help me? Why do you like Christmas?

I asked my family this question over Thanksgiving; you’ll get their list tomorrow.

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10 years ago

I find this post comforting. Thank you.

Sharon
10 years ago

This is going to sound shallow…but I like all the lights on dark winter nights. I also have been known to say that I’d like to celebrate Christ’s birth every year and Christmas every second year. But while I have frequently echoed Scrooge and Shari on this matter this year I am playing Christmas music and have my house decorated. Hmmm…see if the mood lasts?!

Mama Zook
10 years ago

I love to be at home with the fire going, Christmas music playing, and memories of our Christmases past! I do not like the crowds from Black Friday on!! I even hate shopping for groceries after that point! I can identify with not appreciating all that fake stuff when we’re celebrating the most alive Jesus who wants more than anything to be real in the lives of each of us!

10 years ago
Reply to  Mama Zook

Oh, I can echo this completely!
One of the downsides of living far away from family and friends is the loneliness during the holidays, BUT a huge trade-off is skipping the obligation to participate in extended-family dinners, cookie exchanges, gift exchanges, attending Christmas programs at three or four Mennonite schools, etc. etc. I just don’t enjoy feeling obligated to be so busy over the holidays.

10 years ago

I like winter to begin with (and the getting dark early), but I like the house looking festive for the month, the music and Christmas movies, and since I work with the public (at the library), there is a general shift of joy, even in wishing each other a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday (gasp). Since I do about 99% of my shopping online, I avoid the crowds which cause me a lot of stress. I appreciate your honesty! If you don’t like it, you don’t like it and that doesn’t make you a bad person. Between you and me, I don’t like always going to church every week. I do it but I can’t say I love it. I do love my quiet bible time every day and the quiet moments in prayer with the Lord, but church? Not always so much.

Alvin S
10 years ago

I despair of the noise, clamor, long lines, and crowded conditions.

And that’s just the family gatherings.

For the most part, I would be happy to skip it as well.

Things I do like:
The glow of the electric candles that my wife puts in the windows.
Southern Comfort egg nog.
The sheer delight on my 6 year old daughter’s face as we go Christmas caroling with our church.
My mother-in-law’s fruitcake.
SOME Christmas music (like Manheim Steamrollers and Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

Admin
10 years ago
Reply to  Alvin S

And that’s just the family gatherings.

I like your kind of humor. Stick around.

Admin
10 years ago

Well, we could start playing Christmas music in August to get in the spirit. Yeah, that would work.

At Christmas I like puzzles and warm drinks. And buckeyes. I used to hate party mix, but resistance is futilefading.

Funny, I didn’t know Black Friday existed until I dated a Coblentz. I thought people just ate turkey and dressing and then went out and cut firewood. Well, surprise. Who corrupted whom, eh?

If you’re Scrooge, what does that make me? Oh dear.

I am not as dead as a door-nail, to begin with.

Mama Zook
10 years ago
Reply to  Not the Boss

did we always cut wood on Thanksgiving or the day after, when everyone was getting shoved around at the malls! I’m hoping it didn’t warp your personality!
The day after thanksgiving this year, (actually the afternoon and evening before Thanksgiving) your Daddy began filling up the trailer and pickup with all that stuff he was going to take to the metal recycle on Black Friday, until he found out they were closed for the holiday until Monday! Guess his vacation days from teaching were always used as clean up days, or days to put new gravel in the holes in the driveway!

Renita
10 years ago
Reply to  Mama Zook

Ok, “not the boss” and Mama Zook… you gave me the first laugh of the holidays! 😉 That is a pretty good description of our vacation days– “putting new gravel in the holes in the driveways”.

And I don’t feel so bad having those memories. Much better than the surprise I found on my first “black Friday” in PA; I couldn’t figure out why all these awesome sales were advertised (and SOOO early in the morning), and then why everyone was so pushy to get stuff off the shelves… I came home disheartened and wiser.

Ah, if I could only go back to Grandma Marner’s ham and “Curly sauce” and green bean casserole. And of course, cutting firewood the next day (or was that July 4th?) Back when life was simpler and not so expensive.

Do I sound like Scrooge yet? I’m with you Shari. I’ll give you a listen on your blog in the next few weeks to see if you can cheer me up. 🙁 Otherwise, we may have an interesting Zook Christmas gathering. At least we could forget turkey and trimmings, and just cut firewood.

Mama Zook
10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

didn’t you mean “vegetable medley” with the fried onions on top!?

Renita
10 years ago
Reply to  Mama Zook

that’s right! Just wrote the wrong thing. I was thinking veg. medley.

Admin
10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

We’ve got the firewood and the holes in the driveway. Bring it on.

Mama Zook
9 years ago
Reply to  Not the Boss

should we bring the chainsaw along?

Rachel
10 years ago

My dear girl!
My first observation is: why are you seeing all the counterfit and garish, the fake and plastic, the crowds and the emptiness? Why do you hear empty rin-tinning instead of clear bells on the horse drawn sleigh like in Laura Ingalls day?

This very evening I was going to sit down and make out my baking list. What delightful creations shall I bake for my family and neighbors to enjoy? Will I use colorful 10-cent tins picked up at a local thrift store or maybe plain brown paper bags tied with twine and a sprig of evergreen and berries? Hmm, I shall have to think on that.

And oh yes, the frosty evening we go to pick out our tree and some holiday wreaths. Then I shall pull out my boxes from the attic, full of Christmassy goodies. Yes, they will only beautify my home for a month (2 months, tops) but its worth it for the fun celebratory atmosphere that is created.

Then there’s Christmas music, hot drinks, coziness on wintry evenings…

Yes, there is all that fake-ness, but isnt there always, no matter what season, event or holiday? You don’t have to be drawn in. I didnt really even notice it for the feeling of excitement welling up inside at the thought of the approaching holiday! You don’t see anything but fake-ness? Buy a horse and sleigh and make your own reality!

9 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

And this, in a nutshell, is why we need Old friends in our lives, friends who knew us ‘way back when we were kids together out in the boondox, because they can take us by the scruff of the neck and say “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?” 🙂 Love you, Rach. Thank you…

Carla Zehr
10 years ago

You are far from Ebenezer Scrooge because you do love Jesus, you just don’t love the hype and the busyness. Your words are a good call for me to remember that not everyone is all joy about this time of year. I do not enjoy the busyness and pressure of trying to get food and kids ready to go to family gatherings, though I love the gatherings once I am there.

You asked what I like. I like the carols, the home decorations, and giving gifts. It is so special to see my little children in awe of the Christmas story. I want to experience this season as a time of reflection and wonder. You’ve helped me stop and remember that on a day when Tristan is begging for the 20th time to “get out the decorations”.

Janelle Glick
10 years ago

I like our little nativity scene, even if the angel was headless for a day or two last week. Who knew my second son could decapitate a ceramic figure on a carpetted floor or that my superman husband could glue the angelic head back on its winged body?

10 years ago

I understand not liking the hype, the craziness, the crowds, parents telling their kids and the kids actually believing that Santa is real. I just love celebrating the birth of Jesus. I love the Christmas songs – so much victory and declaration of the Kingdom of God in them. I love it when I’m in a store and I hear “Joy to the World” or “Silent Night”. I dislike hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” or some silly Santa song. I hate getting over-committed and busy. I love buying my kids a present or two and seeing their excitement as we open them. I sort of like decorating the house, but not if I’m too busy or put pressure on myself to do too much. I like making good choices and feeling free to say no to perfectly good activities. I love our Christmas Eve candlelight services. And this year, I’ve totally loved singing (a simplified version of) Handel’s Messiah with a bunch of church and community people. The words are sooooo powerful and I know there are non-Christian and nominal Christian people in the choir. What other time of year do people gladly proclaim the truth of the Kingdom of God? “And He shall reign for ever and ever!!!” (my hubby said tonight, “I wasn’t singing, I was preaching!”)

Shaunda
10 years ago

Maybe I should come over and help you decorate. I am not at all offended by your words, but am simply the polar opposite on this issue. We could see who wins: Pollyanna or Scrooge 🙂

p.s. I truly hope that I am not a Pollyanna and I know that you’re not a true Scrooge!

Marlene Stoltzfus
10 years ago

Oh boy. You’ve brought up yet another subject on which I’ve bestowed great thought and arrived at few conclusions.

Longer ago, I loved Christmas for the the rituals and rhythms that are so important to a child. Unwrapping the nativity, bringing out the same decor with stories behind it, the handmade Advent calendar, wood fires and games. Togetherness. Activities that brought us together.

Later, Christmas became terribly significant because of Emmanuel. God with us. In my darkness, it was a powerful truth that I clung to.

Now, the contrasts disturb me. God joins us in our messy, broken humanity. There’s so much grittiness and realness about it, meeting what is instead of what would be nice. Much of the cultural surroundings of Christmas seem the opposite; a place for the ideal experience, wrapped in a secure circle that insulates us from the grittiness. I liked Christmas for the way it made me feel, which was probably pretty distant from Mary’s experience.

There’s more, but I’ve clogged the comment section long enough. 🙂

LaDonna Nice
9 years ago

I think any holiday is what you make it. I personally have always loved Christmas. Can we look and see beauty even in the fake…the ugly…?

I grew up and holidays were special. It was a day we took a break from our work and played together as a family. We decorated, read books, sang carols, baked cookies and other goodies, watched a good video, visited family, passed out goodies and caroled to the neighbors, talked and talked and talked and sang, exchanged gifts and rested. I loved and still love the lights, togetherness, all the reminders of God with us, the joy the laughter. I even love the fake tinsel as it sparkles with a celebration. I make it a celebration of Christ’s coming to earth, Emmanuel, God with us.

I am realizing that as a mom this is harder. Almost every tradition you have requires an extra amount of work for mom. Also, when I married as you know, I moved to the other side of the USA which makes it difficult to get back with my extended family. Something about Christmas makes me homesick every year. I really have to work at not being a scrooge. The last 3 years we have not been able to go back for Christmas. I miss the big family gatherings where everyone knew and loved you. Where everyone was interested in your life and wanted to hear every detail. I miss the traditions we had at our church like the candlelight service, caroling at the mall, and the big Christmas program in which I was able to invest time and energy.

So I kind of have to chase away the gloomies and the scrooge in me come Christmas time and look for the Light for the gifts Christ offers. Our little family has started some of our own traditions that I am beginning to look forward to. This year I am trying to be more specific in reaching out to others, and I have found in this a great joy unspeakable. Yeah and this comment is so loooong 😉

Even in saying all that I have to say I love your honesty! Hoping your Christmas is enjoyable and not just enduring this season! Hugs!