(For clarity I use the term 'Xmas' instead of 'Christmas' to signify the consumerism function that I previously and resentfully worshipped).
I'm not a religious person, or maybe a God that suits me hasn't been invented yet - but fear not, this isn't a religious rant so let's explore my latest Xmas epiphany instead.
Despite the unwanted pressures and expectations of Xmas each year I always wrote the upbeat letters, sent the least sickeningly worded cards I could find, erected and decorated the fake tree, bought presents and observed the rituals as decreed by marketing gurus.
This year; mostly due to a life-changing course I took online; I resolutely boycotted Xmas in a non-participatory, non-judgmental way.
So what happened?
A discomforting enlightenment occurred.
Each year we send around 30-40 cards and receive maybe 20-30 back. With zero sent, guess how many came back this year? 8! 3 were from real estate agent suck-up lists with 1 from our hideously evil bank. By the way I really love the people who sent the heartfelt 4.
So what does this tell me?
Obviously I have been guilting people into sending cards for years. No one, including me, really wanted to do it but we got caught up in the machinery of Xmas and behaved accordingly.
I have this huge, uncomfortable feeling of having wasted vast quantities of time and energy by blindly going through the motions. Surprisingly even my wife had absolutely no interest in picking up what I let drop. Abilene Paradox anyone?
I'm still not yet free of all Xmas' insidious requirements. We still bought too much expensive food and stupidly overate to a state of extreme discomfort. It bemused me why I would do this to myself but I valued the forced introspection.
So what have I learned from this experiment?
- I don't have to allow big business, relatives or friends dictate my behaviour on any given day.
- Conspicuous waste should never be celebrated.
- Rituals should mean something to a person performing them.
- Being manipulated into thinking or acting far outside your will is dehumanising and frightening to acknowledge.