The tradie and I have made the decision to quit Christmas. For the last few years Christmas has been a burden. The consumerist nature of the holiday is both depressing and expensive. The idea that we must all come together as a family is sometimes an obligation rather than a joy, and as non-religious people there is no real meaning to the holiday for us. So why are we enduring it each year?
Making the decision was actually quite simple. I approached the tradie to discuss how we wanted to celebrate Christmas from now on and within minutes we both agreed we didn’t want to celebrate it. Done deal. Telling our family was kinda traumatic; reactions ranged from fully supportive (rare), disappointed, supportive but still wanting their yearly Christmas gift, nearly crying and lastly telling us we’d gone nuts. Won’t someone please think of the children.
When I started searching the internet for other people’s experiences of quitting Christmas I was shocked to discover most bloggers who have ‘quit’ Christmas were actually Christian! Probably the most interesting read was by an ordained minister which can be read here.
Quitting Christmas doesn’t mean that we are just going to sit at home like a normal day; what we are actually doing is finding new ways to create meaningful traditions that align with our family values. Some of these will be celebrated during the Christmas period, while others will be associated with other important days.
This is what we are doing..
A bigger emphasis on birthdays and name days
We are planning to celebrate the people we love more on the day of their birth by giving little gifts in the lead up, more experiences with that person instead of just a party, and really celebrating the life of the person we love. That means a lot more to us. Our girls both have European names, so we also celebrate their name day. So far this has been quite a small occasion but we plan to ramp it right up.
Celebrating days of significance
We would rather celebrate days that represent our values, so we got the UN list of days and marked a bunch down. Some of our choices include: International Day of Social Justice, International Women’s Day, World Literacy Day and Mother Earth Day. These days have a lot more meaning to us, and are also worthy of being marked in a greater way than they currently are. On world literacy day we plan to discuss the importance of reading with the girls, treat them to a few new (second-hand) books and donate some books to kids in need.
Celebrating days of our cultural heritage
We both have an immigrant parent, so we are going to look into special cultural days that reflect our unique heritage.
Gifts, just because
Do we need an excuse to give a gift? We plan to do a lot of craft with the girls that teaches them skills, but also have a recipient in mind.
Giving our time to others
This is the one we are most excited about. We really want to teach the value of helping those in need. When the girls are older we will use the Christmas break to travel to developing countries and help out in local NGO projects. Hopefully by seeing communities in real need, the girls will learn how rich their lives are.
I know these things are not the same as a big pile of brightly wrapped gifts under a tree, but I’m hoping that they will be just as exciting. We are going to build traditions around our family and our values rather than buy into one we no longer believe in. It’ll be interesting to see what future years look like in December, especially once the girls start school. Right now though I’m looking forward to 22nd of April, when we will celebrate Mother Earth Day by buying the girls some trees, and planting them in the garden.