Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Captain Scrooge

I'm not doing Christmas this year.

No Christmas cards, no presents, probably no tree. Nothing.

I'd like to say it's because I'm being a good non-consumer, but it's really because I simply cannot afford it this year. Christmas usually costs me around $1000. I don't have $1000 to spare, hence no Christmas.

I'd like to say that having no money has woken me up to the true spirit of Christmas, but the truth is, not participating in the cards/presents orgy kind of means that actually, I'm just kind of ignoring the holiday season. Le sigh. Does that mean I have to consume in order to appreciate the holidays? That's a pretty freaking awful thought.

But what is a non-consumptive Christmas for a secular person? I guess one could say it's about friends and family, but I think every day of your life is about your friends and family.

It could be about Christmas music. I do love listening to carols.

Or about strolling the neighborhood looking at Christmas displays. Although given that the displays are an example of someone else's consumerism, I'm not sure it's fair to call them non-consumptive.

It could be about Christmas cookies ... except that eating cookies is literal consumption.

I guess the truth is, I'm not really SURE what Christmas is about without the consumption. But this month, I hope to find out.


Katy said...

As a pretty devote Christian I have done something about your question. What is Christmas to a secularist if you take out all the consumption?

I would love to say that Christmas is still something. But honestly? I don't think it is.

Don't get me wrong, as a Christian I think I celebrate a pretty non-consumer Christmas. For me the focus is more on season of Advent than the actual day of Christmas. Its a 40 days journey of contemplating and reflecting on where I am in my spiritual journey. The begining of the liturgical year.

But yeah. If you take out the consumption and the Christian spirituality I think you are just left with an extra federal holiday, some nice songs to listen too and don't forget some great classic movies and TV specials to watch...

ruchi said...

Katy, fair point. I think there is something to be said for taking some time out of the year to be extra thankful for your friends and family and to show them how much you care about them. That's basically what Thanksgiving means to me. I'm not sure Christmas can't be the same. But I know what you mean. At its heart, Christmas is a religious holiday. So if you're not celebrating it for the birth of Christ, and you are not celebrating the buying presents aspect, it can be hard to find something that you ARE celebrating.

But I do love "It's a Wonderful Life."

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I disagree - I'm secular, I rarely spend much on gifts, and I love Christmas! I'll be spending it with my awesome in-laws, including 4 nephews, 3 of whom are still young enough to get super excited. There'll be good food, good company, walks in the snow, very silly games of Cranium, oh, and skiing ;) And there are loads of parties to go to right now! We're going to a craft fair later today, on the water, with carol ships going by.

Christmas, like Hannukah and Diwali and other festivals around this time of year, was originally a pagan festival celebrating light and warmth at the darkest time of year. I think that's worth celebrating!

Jill said...

For me Christmas is about giving. Giving to my friends, family, and those less fortunate. It doesn't have to be about giving material things though. Spend some quality time with your friends and family listening to christmas music and eating cookies (consumptive I know... but you do have to eat somehting!); volunteer at the soup kitchen.... there are tons of ways to get into the "Christmas Spirit" that don't involve spending $$.

Rosa said...

There's the lights! Since it's dark at 5pm here, I appreciate the outdoor lights everyone puts up.

I'm a pagan; my partner is an atheist. We both have Christian families.

This year, I have just resigned from the parts of christmas that stress me out. Instead of buying garland and hanging it up, we dredged some plastic tinsel garland out of the attic and decorated with that. I bought one present (for my nephew; the neice I am buying for is getting cash because she's 16).

Our son is just delighted with the decorating (our "tree" is a lamp wrapped in garland...apparently at some point there will be fairy lights on it, and ornaments.) We've been baking (i guess part of that is gifts). We're going to spend time with MY family for the first time since my son was born, and so I'm cooking childhood favorite food.

That's it. I guess at some point his dad will get into the gift-buying frenzy, since he doesn't consider the $500 in presents for his family to be optional...but that's his problem. The only chore he does for me at Christmas is hanging up garland, and I let him out of that this year.

The bean-mom said...


Just had to weigh in here (even though I'm late to the thread). I'm athiest, grew up in a secular household--and I love Christmas! My parents are non-Christians who came to the States from a different country, and my mother embraced and loves Christmas, too. I'm with Cath. Lights, carols, family--what's not to like? And Christmas is even cooler to me now because my kids love it. This is the first year that my younger daughter really noticed what Christmas trees are, for instance. So fun!

That said, one of my sisters converted to a non-Christian religion recently and now says she completely doesn't see the point of Christmas. Different folks...