Christmas is about __________.

This time of year you’ll find a lot of people/media outlets/corporations pumping out the “Christmas is about ____” message. Depending on their personal views, religion, agenda, marketing strategy or bottom line, they’re going to fill in the blank with whatever they need to and then point to all the traditions that support their ideas. A lot of these ideas and traditions are actually fundamentally different. Take a look at JC’s b-day party, Christmas trees and mall Santas (Christian, Pagan, Commerical). But, despite their differences, the “Christmas is about” people all say the same thing: “It is vital that you participate in this Christmas tradition. Because that’s what we’ve always done. And, it should make you happy. Because it’s always made everyone happy.”

I feel like that puts a lot of pressure on people. Especially if this time of year doesn’t match up with what “Christmas is about.” I’m not suggesting that traditions don’t make anyone happy. I think there are a LOT of people who do get a little giddy stringing lights on the tree (I’ve been one of them, at times). But if you’re just not feeling it (I’ve been there, too) traditions can make you feel like an outsider, like something’s wrong with you.

He's not that into this tradition.
He’s not that into this tradition.

The other thing about traditions is that, by nature, they require people to do the same exact thing at the same time every year. And you’re expected to feel the same warm and fuzzy feelings you always felt. But, the reality is that you may not be the same person you were the year before. People are constantly growing and changing. What felt comforting or celebratory in the past may now feel like an old pair of pants that doesn’t quite fit right anymore.

Who says you still have to wear those old pants that are too baggy in the butt and pleated weirdly? No one. They’ve been in the back of your closet all year. There’s no point in dragging them out if they don’t make you feel good about yourself. The same things goes for Christmas traditions. Maybe last year it was fun to bake cookies for everyone in your neighborhood, but this year you’re really busy with school/work/a relationship. Or you’ve given up sugar. Or you hate all your neighbors now. Or you just don’t feel like it. If baking cookies is going to generate more stress than good cheer, just skip it.

But, I think it works the other way, too. Maybe you’ve never had the interest, time or resources to create or participate in a tradition and now, for some reason, you feel like it. It’s not like it’s too late. And you can give yourself permission to bake cookies, deck the halls and sing a carol without any commitment to doing it again next year.

So, because you might not get it anywhere else, I’m going to, from my humble little corner of the internet, give you permission to adopt, dismiss, create, ignore, forget about any and all Christmas traditions this season. It’s just another day. Or, it’s the best day of the entire year. Or something along the spectrum. You’ll figure it out for yourself.

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