without the family
Since I arrived in Australia, it became necessary for me to travel for Christmas every year. Not because I like paying double (sometimes even triple) on air fare to go anywhere I want, but because it is the only time of the year I actually have off. My last 5 Christmas holidays were spent in non-Christians countries, and with non-Christians friends, which means “not a big deal” in terms of celebration.
This year, although I am still not spending time with my Brazilian family, it will be my first traditional (if I can call it like that) Christmas at “home” in 5 years.I have to confess that spending a “real” Christmas in Australia, and not backpacking somewhere around the world, is making me feel a bit weird. This is why:
1. There is huge pressure to “be happy and have fun” at Christmas.
It seems like you HAVE to eat a lot, drink a lot, and spend all your money on useless things – for yourself and for others. You are basically forced to have a blast. This is a big pressure when you are away from home and your loved ones. Especially when all your friends are travelling and you are not. Why can’t I just have a quiet celebration for once, without people feeling sorry for me?
2. It is the holiday that makes you broke.
Christmas just became another capitalist holiday.
I actually struggle to find a reason for the tradition of giving presents. Of course, I love getting presents. I just don’t see the purpose of doing it when everything is so much more expensive, for no other reason, than it being Christmas.
It is the pressure from society that makes us pay more to have gifts ready to be distributed on the 25th,even knowing that everything will be heaps cheaper ONE DAY AFTER.
I found a very interesting article called “Why I Hate Christmas” that expresses a bit of this pressure in this quote: “The only reason the tradition of giving gifts for Hanukkah exists is because it helps Jewish kids feel less left out when all their Christian friends are getting loads of them.”
Again, it is all about capitalism!
The pressure of having fun for Christmas comes with a bill: decorations, dinner, new clothes for the parties, Christmas cards, secret Santa, postage to send the presents overseas, etc. This list can go on and on.
I read on the news the other day that Australians will spend 3Bn over the weekend. After 5 years, I forgot how annoying it is to go shopping during this season. The streets in Sydney are packed, hot, noisy, – big chaos! I did try to do my shopping, but in the end, I just gave up and left empty-handed. Wine and chocolates will have to do the job this year.
3. Happy Holidays instead of Happy Christmas
Christmas is a religious holiday that has lost its true significance for many people over the years. Many celebrate Christmas as just a holiday to spend money and reunite the family for dinner. In my opinion, the fact that part of society doesn’t recognize Christmas as a religious holiday doesn’t justify the idea of changing the holiday’s meaning.
I have friends from many different religions and it is very common for me to receive cards of Happy Hanukah, Happy Ramadan, or happy any other religious holidays you can name. It is an important date to them and I respect that. However, I also want to be able to send Merry Christmas cards to non-Christian friends without being criticized for that. At the end of the day, Christmas has a meaning that is not only holidays for me.
I do wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers! Especially to my friends around the world who have spent Christmas with me, like a family, in my past 5 years away from home. Thank you for sharing those moments with me!
To all my friends, there it goes: My very own Santa dance! Wishing you the best Christmas ever! 🙂