Modern Christmas cynicism isn’t something I’ve ever bought into. Particularly in the UK, whilst our increasingly secularised society has opened the door to a long overdue freedom of thinking, there also seems to be an undercurrent of Christmas-shaming; those who feel superior for disliking the celebration Christmas over those who do.
Whilst I can appreciate the atheist and counter-spiritualistic positions of disliking many aspects of the Christian faith, as well as the anti-capitalistic stance on how corporations abuse the season for that sweet dollar, I cannot help the emotional value Christmas has for me.
As I grow further into the depths of adulthood, with every exciting and terrifying development that it brings, I have always had this safe-place in the year that I get to come back to and be with the family I see increasingly less and less of. Life should be about change, and it should be something that challenges you. However, ‘safe’ is not an ugly feeling and Christmas really is that annual fireplace; a familiar warmth that will always be waiting for me at the end of yet another 365-day journey. I know this will not be Christmas for everyone, but I do not feel bad that this is what it is for me.
In recent years, there has been a growth in intellectual hierarchy of perceiving those who enjoy Christmas as inferior. Because we are the societal slaves to ritual who just go through with the festivities because we have to: we’ve been institutionalised by an ugly marriage of religious doctrine and western capitalistic practice and values. Well, if that’s what makes you celebrate Christmas, then you should definitely stop. But I celebrate Christmas because I genuinely enjoy it.
My argument has always been that, despite whether our prior purpose in life was to simply survive like every other species or not, the human race has now reached a point where it has evolved an improved perception of what the meaning of life is. That purpose? To enjoy it; to experience happiness.
We have evolved the concept of enjoyment, so let’s use it! These cynics spend their lives thinking ‘what’s the logical gain in just living for happiness?’. Well, what’s the point in being a slave to logic when happiness is far more gratifying a life experience? Who’s the real slave here?
As an agnostic, my whole approach to life is to not worry too much about the bigger existential picture; to simply try to be nice to one another and have fun, no matter how successfully that often goes. What’s the point in choosing to dislike one another to simply relish in conflict, hatred and superiority when that gets us nowhere? As some are aware, I struggle with an anxiety that frequently subjects me to a whole host of negative emotions – I don’t have the time to experience negativity when I don’t need to. For me, Christmas is my time to get away from these petty and ugly attitudes that I have to see others express every other waking day and simply enjoy the warmth of what life should be.
Sat in the living room with your family, view from the front window blocked out by the tree, watching tales of optimism with familiar snacks and treats, playing games that bring chuckles of arguments, waiting in anticipation for each other’s facial expressions as they open that present you were so gratified to find, then watching your stupid little dog trying to open said present, before everyone huddles round the table to enjoy a warm dinner that tastes better than any other meal you’ll have that year. In life, your family changes and evolves, but my experience and reliance on Christmas is something I never wish to see the end of. More so this year than ever before, I’ve learnt how much that really means to me.