Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Christmas Traditions

After talking to the internet a bit, I've decided to talk a bit about what I do for the holidays. See, I've always held the conviction, since starting this blog, that my life is fundamentally uninteresting to anyone but myself. To talk about myself all the time would be solely self-serving, and thus be completely out of place on a blog. But after talking a bit with the internet, I've found that there is much interest in the question of "How do you celebrate the holidays?" Despite the strong aspect of tradition in the holidays, there is a surprising amount of variation in how people celebrate. Even though my own family's traditions seem absolutely normal to me, I suppose they are still worth sharing so that we all might compare our different visions of normal.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that I celebrate Christmas. Contrary to popular myth, leaving religion does not mean that you lose your Christmas or any holiday. That is, unless you don’t like celebrating holidays, then no one is forcing you. In any case, the rest of my family celebrates Christmas. For us, it is a very family-oriented holiday. Christmas involves two or three family gatherings (and then there’s another on New Year’s Eve).

Family gatherings are pretty fun. They always have dinners of the sort that leave excess food. And there’s also plenty of time to talk to extended family, watch movies, play board games with cousins, and everything. Sometimes I play some Christmas music on the flute, although privately I am not a fan (an entire month out of every year is dedicated to a relatively small set of music, so of course it annoys me!) It’s actually not particularly different from any of the other family gatherings we have for other holidays. Except, of course, for the presents.

There always seems to be an abundance of presents. Honestly, I don’t know how the rest of the family does it. I don’t think I could ever pick out a gift or two for each of my many cousins, aunts, and uncles, and yet my mother seems to do just that. She’s a very good selector of gifts too. As for me, I seem to have a phobia of shopping.

When I was younger, I used to get a few presents which were marked “From: Santa”. That was the extent to which my family pushed Santa. There were only a few presents from Santa, and they were not clearly any different from the other presents. I do not recall a time when I believed in Santa. I thought of Santa as something I was supposed to pretend I believed in. Because that’s what all the adults are clearly doing. But I’ve always been a bit incredulous that anyone could really believe in Santa. I’m almost inclined to think that true Santa belief only exists in the movies. I’m even more incredulous that any parents would go so far as to dress up in a Santa suit in order to fool their kids. Don’t they only do that in the movies? The whole “fool your kids about Santa” tradition seems rather alien and excessively theatrical to me.

Another “tradition” that I think only really exists in movies and Christmas TV specials, is the practice of all the kids waking up early Christmas morning, and running down the stairs to find lots of new presents under the Christmas tree. We do have a staircase, but there’s hardly any sense in running down excitedly, unless you want to be overly dramatic about it. Most of those presents have been sitting, wrapped, under the Christmas tree (always a real one, covered with a ridiculous assortment of ornaments) for the last week or so, and most of them we open at family gatherings, not at home. We do have stockings though, even if we have no chimney to hang them over.

So tell me readers, was this as boring as I thought it was (be honest), or was it fascinating because of how differently you celebrate the holidays?