9 January 2022

11 things I hate about Christmas

| Karyn Starmer
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christmas table

Christmas is a time of laughs, good times and gritted teeth. Photo: File.

I love Christmas I really do. I love a good party and a thoughtful gift. As a child, I was fortunate to grow up with all the anticipation of Christmas Eve, then the early morning excitement to see what the man in red had delivered.

Often followed by large, often raucous family gatherings. With adult eyes, I see Christmas through a different lens.

Yes it is a time of laughs and good times, but too often it is the stuff of nightmares, endured through gritted teeth.

As the holidays approach, here are 11 things I hate about Christmas. Feel free to add.

1. “We have to …”

Any person prefacing a sentence with this phrase will see my eyes widen. Who said I have to? Just because there is some element of Christmas that evokes the warm and fuzzies in some remote corner of your memory of Christmases past, does not mean anyone “has to”. We would all be sweltering in front of a traditional baked dinner in Aunty Rose’s dining room if we did not move on.

2. The Santa sack

Did you know that Australia is the only country in the world that has the Santa sack? The rest of the Christian world hang up their stockings that Santa fills with small items often referred to as ‘stocking fillers’. Kids get the surprise from Santa with the more significant gift from their parents. In Australia, we moved on to the pillow case and then the Santa sack and created this retail monster that fills up Santa sacks and every credit card balance in the country. Enough! Can we all just downsize?

3. Buying gifts for everyone

A few years ago I found myself buying gifts for every relative across three generations of two families, whether I was going to see them at Christmas or not, plus neighbours, friends, teachers and the people at work. I may as well have been posting $50 notes to random addresses in the white pages for all the joy it brought me and the thank-you’s I received. Why do we do this? Why can’t we just buy gifts for the people we will physically hand the present to at Christmas or because they are a genuinely significant person in our lives?

4. Atheists who embrace a Christian holiday with fervour

These people get all judgemental and act superior when discussing religious education in public schools or when anyone has their child Christened but come Christmas, watch out! They will be charging through the stores, arms loaded with gifts, decorating their houses and telling everyone they “have to” for a holiday that, wait for it, celebrates the birth of Jesus (gasp). You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy Christmas but if you are the non-Christian, judgy type, then please go and look up the definition of hypocrite before you get hyped up over whether the tablecloth and bonbons match.

5. Asking what someone wants for Christmas

I have enough on my plate trying to think of gifts for me to buy without having to think of ideas for you. Retailers have online catalogues and in-store displays with Christmas gift ideas created by people who are paid to think for you. If all else fails, there are things called gift cards.

6. Playing happy families

We all have relatives that we would never, ever, be friends with. We may have the same blood lines but sometimes that is where the similarities end. Spending time with people with different lifestyles, who hold political and social views that are the polar opposite of our own and, incapable of respectful debate, is not the way to enjoy a day. Add alcohol and it is a disaster. How about we all raise the white flag and retreat to our corners with our like-minded friends and families instead of making excruciating polite conversation with people you only see at Christmas, for a reason.

7. Over-excited children handing out gifts from under the tree

If I buy you or your child a gift, I would like to personally hand you the gift and be with you when it is opened. Gifts require thought, I have left the house and fought the hoardes to buy it, brought it home and wrapped it for the specific person in mind. Asking some 7-year-old to grab random gifts from under the tree and run and hand them out while we sit in a circle surrounded by a growing mound of wrapping paper, like a game of pass-the-parcel on speed, is not OK.

8. Rejecting gifts

A gift is not an option to hand back if you don’t like it. No matter what you get, what you think of it or, how it fits, just smile and say I love it and thank-you, like the rest of us. If you need to exchange or return, that is between you and the retailer. Most big stores will let you exchange at Christmas time. Don’t insult the person who has thought, bought and wrapped a gift for you by giving it back. If you get stuck with it, you can always re-gift.

9. Food Nazis

I am happy to bring a dish for the feast but please let it be my gift to the table, ‘bring a plate’ is not outsourcing catering to fit your menu. If you are the type of person who is fussy about the dishes on the table then do everyone a favour and do it yourself or just let us go random.

10. Too much food

Feasting is an age-old way of celebrating but do we really have to have every type of protein, vegetable, salad and dessert imaginable? Our stomachs are of limited size and there is much time and money in every single dish on the table. Please save the stress and make the menu smaller.

11. Seeing everyone

The world is not going to end if you don’t see one of your parents/children at Christmas. Families grow and people move. Cramming people into cars loaded with presents in the middle of summer, going from house to house while ensuring everyone is seen for Christmas is not fun. If someone is not with you at Christmas, it means they need to spend some time with other members of their extended family or, they got a better offer.

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