Today was the day. I was given the privilege to “undecorate” Christmas tree at home (I started writing this days before finishing the post). And by “given the privilege” I mean there was nobody else that would do it. I had been said to set it up in the first place so I had to undo all the decorations, untie lights and neatly pack it all back to their respective boxes. Sometimes I wonder how long the fully decorated tree would remain in its place in a corner of one of our rooms if I did not show up at home for a longer time. Would it be still there after a month or two? Or would my mom get fed up with it and undecorate it herself? I know for sure some people don’t bother with setting them up in the first place. And then, at the other extreme, there are those who are lazy enough to keep the tree for the whole year till another season comes in. Pathetic or genius?
Anyway, I don’t mind doing this chore, but it reminded me of Christmas which I wanted so strongly to forget as soon as possible. For a few years in a row now (including this one – big surprise) I feel awkward when Christmas are closing in and special kind of sad during them. I guess the holiday child in me died a long time ago. Ironically, by the (metaphorical) hand of entities I treasure the most – knowledge and honesty.
Knowledge gives us power. The more we know, the more able humans we can be. But on the other hand the equation knowledge plus honesty equals ruined childhood images and myths also holds. I will now talk for myself, but I believe it applies to most of people as well. I was blind as a kid. I believed in whatever “fairytale” my parents wanted me to believe. Bestseller lies of that age include – parents *always* want the best for you, there are monsters under your bed (so make sure not to have any limb dangling off the bed), your soul is doomed without Sunday church, or Christmas gifts are brought to good kids by baby Jesus (or Santa, depending on your region). I believed strongly in Christmas. Blinded by the vision of a huge pile of gifts for me under the Christmas tree. Then I did not understand. Back then I did not understand how the world really turns. Should I feel ashamed for myself? No. I guess nearly every child goes through the very same Christmas myth and when they become adults then they do the same to their children. But if we establish that the process of one’s maturing includes going through childhood de-mystification and discovering worldly limits and walls that “weren’t there before” then we might begin to think such misdirection is okay, maybe even welcomed. It is surely easier to make children believe in a supernatural / magical being that is all-seeing and all-knowing and gifts everyone according their good deeds (rings a faint bell, doesn’t it?) than trying to explain to them the market economy of gift-giving or economic status of the family.
Sometimes I miss the naïvité of my childhood. Basically whenever Christmas roll around. Can we even consider kids as selfish for wanting heaps of nicely wrapped gifts? Or is that just plain normal? I regret I do not know the answer. But what I know for sure is, that apart from how children think Christmas work, these “holidays” work much MUCH differently. In this day and age every major holiday celebration is a marketing opportunity, a chance to earn extra money from ordinary people. Because every event, every celebration, every even remotely un-ordinary day must be filled with buying things that you don’t need or to gift others and expect the same in return. That is what “over-commercialized” means. Why do you think shopping centers have Christmas decorations put up in November? To remind people that the “magical” part of year is coming! (and, on an unrelated note, that you should start buying presents as soon as possible). I don’t mind overcrowdedness of shopping places or the decorations (sometimes they are quite impressive!), but I hate Christmas songs being played in November, I hate how it is institutionalized that the more money you spend on gifts, the more you apparently “love” your close ones, I hate the concept how without “mandatory” gifts the holidays would dissolve into almost nothing.
As an adult I see what a theater Christmas is. Traditions are a pretext, but there are actually very few people (statistically speaking compared to the whole) who celebrate Christmas as a kind of a birthday of Christian Earth-born god Jesus Christ. Do not confuse it with traditions each family has on these holidays. Some people like the atmosphere, some don’t. Some have families, some don’t. Sometimes it seems to me like Christmas unintentionally bring more sadness, solitude, and frustration than they would want to. I get melancholic and a bit frustrated myself. It just all seems so fake and forced – the holiday atmosphere, the gift-gifting, even the people themselves. Why not give presents to those we love on any normal day? There is no need to wait for Christmas to roll around. Why forcibly buy gifts for those we normally would not? To what end? What are planning on gaining from it? I see around me much more stress from the time pressure to obtain gifts for all close people than happiness from the sole purpose the presents will achieve. Unfortunately, it is the same in my family, too. I do not feel exactly comfortable being at home during Christmas. Cleaning, cooking, baking are all perfectly normal and I love doing anything my mother asks me (except cleaning, I suppose), but all in all it feels forced. We never dine together, except on Christmas. We usually do not gift each other (at least not much), but on Christmas we do. It is a game of pretend for being a good and a normal family.
I don’t want to go off on a tangent about how lots of people celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, are not even Christians or how absolutely strange it is to have intertwined Christian and pagan symbolism during these holidays (sure, decorated tree is totally Christian symbolism) or how (according to some scientists) Jesus had not even been born in December. No, these are fine compared to topics mentioned before (although I cannot get them off my mind at the same time). Maybe you think I hate Christmas for some reason. And you would be entitled to think that. But, frankly, there are aspects about Christmas I really love and which are characteristic of only this particular season. It is not black and white, the good comes with the bad. But it would seem for me solely the bad weights down more.