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On the difficulty of skipping Christmas

On the difficulty of skipping Christmas. “The idea of being anything but wildly enthusiastic about the annual mass transfer of merchandise often seems abhorrent to the American psyche.”

Reader comments

GregNov 23, 2004 at 3:04PM

Bah Humbug!

What a dorkus. If you don't want to participate, then don't, but that writer doesn't have to try to drag down the rest of us. He's being an attention whore. "I'm so cool, I don't have to give presents."

M.Nov 23, 2004 at 3:58PM

Uhm. As someone who'd give anything to be able to skip Christmas, I was actually annoyed at how many times the author seemed to bend over backwards to say "Hey, if you dig herd shopping, more power to you." I think Greg's comment serves only to reinforce the author's point---that you just can't just-say-no without having people shooting the sign of the evil eye at you for messing with *their* worldview.

essNov 23, 2004 at 3:59PM

We must all celebrate during the "Thanksmas Eve" holiday season! Credit Card debit makes America strong!!!

The hard part is convincing people NOT to give you gifts. And asking people to give to a charity in your name is in poor taste, unless you are talking about your memorial service.

With workplace gift-giving being what it is, I'm surprised more people don't open fire on their co-workers.

AfsheenNov 23, 2004 at 4:00PM

Christmas was always a holiday of convenience when I was growing up. My immediate family is not religious โ€” nor do we have Christian ancestors โ€” but we celebrated the holiday anyway, because I went to a Christian preschool and came home one day wondering why we didn't have a tree like everyone else. (For some reason, my parents thought it would be easier to buy a tree than explain to a three-year-old that his family is neither religious nor Christian and, in fact, settled in this country because religious extremists led a revolution to take over the land of his parents' birth the year before he was born.)

Around the time that I was old enough to learn that Santa was not real and began to understand that none of my relatives were Christian, my younger brother started at the preschool I had attended and, so, faux Christmas continued. After he was old enough to learn about Santa and begin to understand his cultural background, my family still celebrated Christmas because, well, we liked getting presents.

These days the holiday isn't such a big deal, though I give and receive a few small gifts, and I don't have to get caught in any unnecessary hoopla because my girlfriend is Jewish, which means there's no need to haul a tree up the flight of stairs to our apartment.

What does surprise me, though, is that people are always shocked when I lack an important piece of Christmas-related knowledge. For example, I didn't know that Christmas Eve is also a time for family togetherness and holiday merriment, a fact which confused a friend of mine just the other day.

As for the article, I would have enjoyed reading about other people who half-heartedly celebrate the holiday for lack of a handy alternative, but instead all I learned is that some people don't like presents.

Go figure.

ypNov 23, 2004 at 7:46PM

My parents did a pretty good job of skipping Christmas by refusing to get a tree and any gifts they did give weren't wrapped (they were supposed to be gifts celebrating the winter season and being together with the family). Of course, this translates to my current obsession with all things related to Christmas including twinkly lights, xmas trees, xmas cookies, decor, etc. etc. Guess you just want what you can't have.

GolightlyNov 23, 2004 at 10:11PM

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SeanNov 24, 2004 at 10:05AM

I didn't know Christmas shopping was a purely American invention.... Spreading goodwill to all mankind can be such a downer sometimes.

essNov 24, 2004 at 10:23AM

YP - if you want tradition, look into the Xmas Eve tamale party complete with fireworks and a bonfire. Ay yi yi yi and ho ho ho.

If "King of the Hill" has not already made this an international favorite, I expect they will soon.

JNov 24, 2004 at 4:24PM

I give gifts for Christmas (I like giving gifts) and am a fixture at most of the local churches and community events this season because I'm a classical musician. I end up attending about 3 Christmas Eve services and 3 more on the actual day. Never mind all the special Christmas concerts the weeks before.

So, I spend a good chunk of my waking life during the month of December as an integral part of bringing holiday cheer to others. But let it be known that I don't decorate at home (I live alone, so no one is being deprived)... sacrilege!

AliciaNov 26, 2004 at 4:13PM

Nearly every holiday (not to mention birthdays) has some sort of obligatory gift exchange, Christmas is just the most elaborate of the celebrations. If you can stand the awkwardness of not reciprocating a gift once, you can be pretty sure you won't get anything from that person the next year. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do something nice for the giver, but it can be something that doesn't cost money.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.