Festive on my own terms

I don’t enjoy Christmas, for all kinds of personal reasons, alongside my loathing of the dire amounts of waste it causes. I also feel deeply uneasy about the financial pressure to buy, inflicted on people who will end up in debt as a consequence and for whom January will be miserable, terrifying, sometimes suicide inducing. I hate forced jollity, and I know too many people for whom this is the season to feel keenly the absence of lost loved ones.

If you enjoy the festive period, fine, go for it. What I object to are the people who feel entitled to tell me – and others who are unhappy during this season – that we should be happy. We should make more effort to be happy. We shouldn’t be such killjoys. We shouldn’t talk about the bad things, we should pretend they don’t exist. Sod that. Ironically, this approach adds to the misery. Being asked to fake Christmas spirit for the benefit of those around me has never made me feel better about things.

Festive on my terms. It means doing the things I want to do, not the things other people want me to do. Most years it means crafting gifts and buying things I can afford from local traders. It means not having put up any decorations, and looking forward to not having to take them down again later. It means not eating myself into a state of discomfort in a single session, but lots of evenings cheerfully nomming on root vegetables. It means pudding, because I do truly love the Christmas pudding, and I love it best when I’ve not had to get into proper festive spirit with a course or two ahead of it.

This year, I’ve done a fantastic job so far of avoiding too much exposure to shitty Christmas pop songs. That’s been a great mood improver. Empty, saccharine coated lyrics full of pretending everything is lovely. I especially hate any song that tries to tell us about peace and goodwill at Christmas. A feelgood fantasy that helps us ignore how much is really wrong. So much is wrong right now, hanging a bit of tinsel off it won’t change that. We can’t shop our way into the world being a better place.

When the stuffed full bin bags start to appear after the big day, I will mourn, as I mourn every year for the waste of resources, for the lack of care, for the total pointlessness of it. That particular phase of grief has become part of what this season means to me. It is a time to mourn for humanity, to mourn for our eco-suicide, our enthusiasm for putting short term superficial cheer ahead of the survival of the planet. It’s a time to mourn for all the things I can’t fix. And then we rush towards the shiny promise of the New Year telling ourselves it will be great and getting massively drunk to prove it.

I don’t want glut and debt. I want small good things that can be paced through the darker months. I want the warm comfort of being snuggled up inside with people I like spending time with. I want a steady supply of good food. I want lights – just a few lights, because I also want the deep winter darkness. I want real peace, not pretend peace designed to make us spend more money.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Festive on my own terms

  • lornasmithers

    For the first time I have told my friends and family I am not doing Christmas – now or ever again. It is such a relief not to be part of the insanity anymore!

  • Eliza Ayres

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    I feel more drawn to the Solstice now, as the Festival of Light, as it marks the changing seasons. Christmas “cheer”, presents, and parties have worn thin for me over the years. I rather go for a walk in the woods and enjoy the scents of the quiet Nature. Thanks for your insights.

  • Ravensare

    It’s a tough time for many people for a whole lot of reasons, and Christmas can really add to the stress of everything… I wholeheartedly agree with your “each to their own” attitude. For those who enjoy Christmas, that’s awesome and they should go for it! Those who for whatever reason don’t want to engage with it, that should be no issue either. I don’t really “do” Christmas anymore either these days. I was raised catholic and in my childhood Christmas really made sense and was very special. It’s actually a lovely time of the year for me. I like taking a break from my work and just having some quite time to myself. 🙂

  • heathenembers

    I share a lot of your feelings about Christmas. I find it especially annoying how now it is fashionable to call anyone who doesn’t go completely over the top a “grinch”. Simply opting out does not make you a grinch. If I was a grinch I would be stopping everyone else from doing what they do, but I’m not. I’m simply making my own choices. I can’t wait until it’s all over for another year!

  • Ann Beirne

    Hello Nimue

    I do love Christmas, having a granddaughter has ignited my inner child, I love a simple Christmas no over eating or spending, crafting gifts with love for each person, I love fairy lights but we never over decorate, often the lights are left up all year round so they don’t just shine for Christmas.

    I deeply respect people who may not want to be included in the false bonhomie of this time of year, and what you write of is right, we should all do what we want and if it doesn’t chime with what everybody else thinks we should do tough!!!

    It has taken me a long time to get to the stage of doing what I want to do when I want to do it and not to conform to everyone else’s idea of how I should live, I am in a slow burning rebellion stage, and thoroughly enjoying it.

    I wish you a happy Yule and may 2018 bring you great things

    Ann ________________________________

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