Sunday, December 26, 2010

Keeping the X in Xmas

There is something incredibly freeing and peaceful about not buying into the consumerist frenzy that is Christmas. I thought I’d write a paragraph or two about how and why I’ve stopped celebrating Christmas, delving into things like the guilt I felt even as a child knowing my parents were going into debt every Christmas in order to have a massive array of be-ribboned packages under the tree; my preference for giving and receiving gifts for no reason other than, “I knew you’d love this. I know it’s not your birthday, or any other holiday, but I saw this and thought of you;” the dishonesty and meaninglessness of a holiday co-opted from pagans and manipulated into what has become an empty, stressful, pressure-filled orgy of capitalism and obligation… but I find that even just writing about all that is unpleasant, so suffice it so say: I don’t do Christmas. It makes me uncomfortable. Ignoring it is utterly blissful.

Instead of Christmas, we celebrate Kwankahvusolmas-X (Kwanza+Channukah+Festivus+Solstice+Christmas+the X from Xmas.) And in the spirit of keeping the X in Kwankahvusolmas-X, we celebrated out in nature, on the earth's skinny trails, in the warm winter sun, stress-free.

With short days and long, cold nights, it makes sense to spend time inside with loved ones, eating good food and enjoying music. And why not celebrate the day when the sun turns back from its descent and the days begin to grow longer again. I know some who like to kill a tree and drag it inside. Some who bow down before the birth of new hope. Some who light candles against the darkness. And many who scorch credit cards with the passion of love or reciprocity or obligation or desperation.

In recent years have I've found myself moving further and further from the annual frenzy of consumerism, fealty and fellowship that churns through each late-December. I continue to revel in the change of the season, but no longer feel the need to dive into the rest. And, more and more, to avoid the whole public affair altogether.

Moments being moments, I'm sure that I let certain opportunities pass that could be considered "lost". But moments being moments, I keep the ones I have with me, and do my best to live in them. I enjoy the moments I spend with my family even if it takes place outside of the proscribed holiday schedule. Maybe, even, because it happens outside the holidays.

We were invited. But we declined. Instead of spending two days on the road in winter driving conditions, we stayed very close to home. Instead of fighting queasy feelings toward a holiday we feel disconnected from, we gave ourselves to the days of the season. Out into the world and under the sky. The trees remained rooted in soil and rock. The jingling came from Sprocket's collar. The song was the voice of the raven, the crow, the dove, and the hum of tires on moist earth. We drew breath from the cool air and warmed our bodies with our motion.

Not, perhaps, the traditional celebration. But it did suffice.

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