I don’t have the perfect Christmas holiday in my head because I’m not Christian. I am nothing. Christmas is like any other Thursday except for the fact that many people in my life have an emotional and spiritual connection to the holiday.
Christmas is a holy day of making other people feel obligated.
Christmas used to stress me out. I have strong values and know what I believe, but nobody seemed to care. I found myself surrendering to the moment and trying to make other people happy. Then I waited for a reward that never came my way.
I finally put up some boundaries around Christmas — no expensive gifts, no insane trips back to Chicago through snowstorms, and I won’t participate in arguments between distant relatives about shit that happened in the 1970s before I was born.
Now it’s so much easier. I don’t mind participating in other people’s traditions for 24 hours. Then it’s over. It’s perfect.
The 24-Hour Rule
I created a 24-hour Christmas rule as an exercise built out of compromise. I had an elderly aunt named Charlotte who never married and died alone. They found her body on the south side of Chicago. She was living in a garage — with no windows, heat or air conditioning — while her “caretakers” were stealing her social security checks.
For the price of baking cookies and celebrating the birth of your savior for 24 hours, I’m going to hang around with the people I love and have a beautiful time. And I better not die alone, dammit.
Values v. Pragmatism
I am a hardcore atheist, but I am also a pragmatist. The best Christmas miracle is the miracle of a safety net.
So ho ho ho, suckers. Enjoy the holiday season — even if it’s not yours.