Many people do not celebrate Christmas for religious reasons, or because of their lack of religion. There are some eight years who celebrate Christmas in a secular way. I however choose not to celebrate Christmas. This is difficult since everyone I know including my wife does. When I tell people that celebrate Christmas, I am usually asked whether I’m Jewish. The truth is that the reason I do not celebrate Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas itself, but has to do with my child.
To adequately explain why don’t celebrate I will have to take you back to about as far as I can remember. As a child I always had a heightened sense of logic. You might ask what do I mean by this. I never took anything at face value and was always skeptical. I don’t exactly remember when my parents first told me about Santa. However I only remember one Christmas in which I actually believed. I remember that year there was a box in the school office to drop off letters to Santa. At the time being in first grade, my dream was to be a doctor. As if I was a grant writer for some University, I wrote and rewrote my letter to Santa in order to make it perfect. In the letter I asked for all sorts of medical equipment.
After I finished my letter to Santa, I folded it into a little envelope, and off it went to the North Pole. Probably a week later I received a letter in school supposedly from Santa. There was a generic be good, Mary Christmas, and do good in school kind of letter. This is where the skeptical child started to wonder. Kind of like when you send an e-mail to a congressperson, and receive that “we appreciate your comments, however because of volume we are unable to respond to every e-mail” response. This letter did not mention anything about what I wanted, or anything about me. The evidence made me wonder whether my letter ever got to Santa.
Fast forward to Christmas day, and I was in for the biggest disappointment of my life. As I ripped open all the gifts, not a single one was on the list. I got all sorts of Tonka toys, matchbox cars, and other generic toys a parent gets a first grade child. This is where the doubt started to set in. Fortunately, being Hispanic I had two Christmas like holidays. The first was of course Christmas, but the second one was three Kings Day. This is a celebration of the arrival of the three wise men at the manger in Bethlehem. According to tradition you must leave a box with some hay or grass for the camels under your bed. In turn the three Kings arrive bearing gifts for you. Again, just like Santa I believe that this was possible. However, being ever the skeptic and knowing that when I asked Santa, I did not get a single thing I asked for, I decided to do a little experiment. This time I told my mother what I wanted. Sure enough, on the morning of three Kings Day, my shoebox was filled with a toy stethoscope.
As you always do, after a month or so I forgot about the whole dilemma. A year later the holidays rolled around again. By this point I was almost 100% sure that there was no Santa. I periodically contemplated why a loving parent would ever lie to their child about such a thing. Just prior to Christmas I found the final piece of evidence disproving Santa’s existence. I knew that my mother, who did all the shopping, would not be able to buy all those gifts on Christmas Eve while you’re sleeping. Therefore I theorized that if she indeed was the one purchasing the gifts, there must be somewhere in the house where she kept them. I set out to find this hiding place. I did not set out to find it to disprove the existence of Santa, rather I set out to fail. My hope was that I could not find this hiding spot and therefore not find proof that my parents willingly lied to me. After an exhaustive search that turned up nothing. However while not looking for it I accidentally lifted up a panel in a closet. This panel contained wrapped presents. This was a smoking gun, and probably one most disappointing days I experienced up to that point. I couldn’t care less that there was no Santa. The prospects of some weird, bearded fellow entering my home bearing gifts didn’t really excite me much. My disappointment was in the fact that my parents were willing to lie to me.
I continue to play along for many more years until I realized that my sister already knew the secret. But at this point I let my parents know that I knew. Every Christmas would remind me that both my parents and my sibling were holding this big secret or my head and allowing me to believe a lie. This experience will forever be associated with Christmas. While others celebrate, I remember the disappointment I felt towards my parents for lying to me. To me Christmas does not fit in logic. The idea of gift giving alludes me. If I want something I’ll go get it. I have everything I want or need, and nothing you could get me would be anything that I will ever use. And I have no idea what you want. Don’t bother giving me a gift card, because nothing says holiday cheer like giving me 20 bucks but I can only spend it at a designated location. I take a lot of heat for not giving any gifts, or receiving gifts and not returning the favor. I’ll usually say is that that’s what you get for giving me a gift, because I don’t celebrate.
Now that I have a child on the way I asked myself whether I will play along with the Santa game. I know I will take a lot of criticism, including from my wife, but I just don’t think I can do it. Chances are that my lies to him or her would not have the same devastating effects that it had on me, but I still think I could not do it. It still puzzles me why we must have a holiday built on lies. Why must we have a holiday where for half of your childhood you are made to believe in some weird friendly intruder into your house?