Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rejected by Perspectives #1 : I Hate Christmas

My local public radio station has a series called "Perspectives" where normal people speak about issues they care about. I submitted this one many years ago and was told that, while they liked it, I had sent it in too late for the Christmas season. I have submitted it every year since then and received no comment. I finally decided to submit it here since I am reasonably confident it will be accepted.

I Hate Christmas

It’s strange, but everyone assumes I like Christmas, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Amazingly, I have to have a conversation about it every year. It goes something like this:

“Merry Christmas,” someone says.

“Thank you,” I reply, “but I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

“You don’t celebrate Christmas?”

I explain that I’m not a Christian.

“But it’s not a religious holiday,” they explain. “It’s an American holiday!”

“Then explain the signs that say ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ Explain all the nativity scenes or the lyrics to ‘Silent Night’ and ‘The Little Drummer Boy.’”

“Can I give you a present anyway?” they ask. “I like to celebrate Christmas by giving gifts.”

“I like to celebrate Hanukkah by setting fire to other people’s eyebrows. Would you mind leaning forward so I could light yours?”

“You celebrate Hanukkah? Could I give you a Hanukkah present?”

“That would be great!” I say. “But only if you convert to Judaism first. Otherwise, it would be like a non-Muslim fasting at Ramadan: a nice gesture, but hardly appropriate.”

At this point it becomes obvious that I don’t just avoid the holiday, I hate it. I don’t decorate my desk or take part in the company Christmas pictures; I stick my fingers in my ears when I hear the song ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and I never give presents. People call me “Scrooge” or “Grinch” a lot, probably because they hope that, like those characters I’ll change in the end.

Bart Simpson once said: “Christmas is the time when people of all faiths celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ” but I don’t. It’s offensive to automatically assume I celebrate Christmas, just like it’s offensive to automatically assume I eat meat or vote Republican. It’s not hard to ask if someone celebrates a holiday before you include them in it. For those of us who don’t want to be included, it makes life more pleasant.

Most of the people I talk with about this can’t understand and wander off, perplexed. Usually the message sinks in, but sometimes they still leave presents at my desk.

It’s okay. Sometimes I still set fire to their eyebrows.

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