My family has been both completely non-religious and devoutly religious over the course of my growing up but one thing has never changed: the absolute normalcy of Christmas Day. We’ve never had any celebrations, any trees, lights, gifts or specially prepared food for the day. It has always been just another day at home. When I was younger, I didn’t really notice the difference between my family and others. Yes, I knew others celebrated Christmas and went to church and did a bunch of other things in between but since I had very limited interaction with people at the time, it didn’t bother me much.
That was until I was about 8 or 9 years old and I spent my Christmas holidays with some distantly related cousins in another town. Christmas was “lit” there. There was no tree but everything else made up for the lack of this essential Christmas utility. Bright shiny lights; lots of food; Christmas carols; staying up late; going along to visit my cousin’s friends. It made me start to long for some of these things at home but I never asked and the visits stopped after sometime anyway. Thus the effect was that, I came to see Christmas as any other day and struggled to understand the fuss made on this day, especially when I discovered that the date itself is wrong in relation to Jesus’ birth and the celebration has pagan roots.
School, travel and social media have meant that my circle of friends has increased a lot since I was a kid and I have to deal with the fact that Christmas is actually a big deal to most of these people. They start to talk about their plans for Christmas weeks before the day and they are always so excited about it. On the day, I have to reply their messages, express my best wishes to them too and have conversations about the wonderful Christmases they had. It’s actually quite fun. It is also one of the few times some people on my contacts list remember I exist and I have to politely reply every Christmas message personally no matter how generic they may seem.
I don’t think I’ll ever see Christmas Day as special. To be honest, I’d rather sleep from 24th through 25th and 26th and wake up on the 27th, but I have grown to better understand why others do and to accept it just the way it is. At the end of it all, Christmas Day just like any other day ends when the clock strikes 12………. Well, not for me anyway, because Boxing Day is even worse. But more on that tomorrow……