Hana Shafi Christmas From The Other Perspective

I love this time of year and I honestly don’t even know why. 

Growing up, my family never celebrated Christmas- unless you can count the few times they attempted to celebrate it in a half-assed attempt when we first immigrated to Canada. As a child I was always dying to celebrate it, mainly because of the presents part (obviously) and my fascination with Christmas lights. The truth is I never even really believed in Santa Claus- when you don’t celebrate the holiday, the idea of an obese man squishing down your chimney to bring you gifts seems absurd. But I continued to love Christmas and still do.

On one hand, Christmas can certainly be a spectacle of over-indulgent and irresponsible consumerism. Working in retail has really exemplified this for me; families spending exorbitant amounts of cash on gifts, cards, decorations. Suddenly everyone’s household budget and hanging debt disappears into thin air and I’m seeing people spend over 50 dollars on each gift (which in the mind of a broke student like myself, makes you look like a goddamn billionaire). Christmas is essentially the time of year where billboards and TV ads can tell you “buy this, buy that, shop shop shop!” and we absorb the message like sponges and sleepwalk to the malls with a glazed over look on our face swiping bank cards like we’re invincible.

But at the same time, what I’ve always loved about Christmas is its universality. Even non-religious households and some non-Christian households celebrate Christmas. And despite the obvious commercialism of Christmas, a holiday that can be widely celebrated and promotes bringing friends and family together doesn’t sound that bad. Somehow, even though I have no personal memories that can ignite some sense of Christmas nostalgia, this time of year tends to get me feeling sentimental and loving, and I’ll admit that it’s a nice break from my usual state of cynicism. While I hardly see Christmas as anything particularly holy, it certainly has the ability to put people in a giving mood. Besides, pretty lights never hurt anyone. 

Though, I would like to point out that although I do harbour a soft spot for Christmas (especially for someone who’s never really celebrated it with their family in their life), I do think it’s important to say Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas. And for the whiney ones griping about that, calm the fuck down. You can still have the merriest Christmas ever, a little bit of political correctness isn’t going to kill you. 

I plan on spending my Christmas with one of my friends whose family also doesn’t celebrate it. And I’m thinking of trying egg nog for the first time ever. Though our Christmas day won’t be very much like that of my friends, maybe our spending time with one another will still embody that Christmas spirit of love, giving, and quality time together (whatever that means). Or you know, we might just watch movies till we fall asleep, that works too. 

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