December 22, 2011

Another View: Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and that's OK

People who celebrate other holidays are not being "Grinchy" if they say "no" to a candy cane.


By even mentioning this I'm making myself sound like the Grinch. How dare I not be cheerful, I'm asked, as I'm handed a candy cane from someone in a reindeer sweater and Santa Claus hat, with “Jingle Bells” in the background.

“Jingle Bells” doesn't even say anything about Christmas, they argue. Oh, touche, hadn't thought of that. Hadn't considered that it's played among the numerous other Christmas things – wreaths, Santas, pine trees, mistletoe and the enormous Santa Claus factory with a train running through it in the middle of the mall – should I continue? No, because I'd never stop.

What most people don't realize is that while everyone grows up and experiences the subtle loss of magic the holidays once held over them as children, it's different for people who don't celebrate Christmas: If they celebrate other holidays, they're still reminded of Christmas in public, just like everyone else is. The difference is we aren't reminded of our holiday. It's uncomfortably inhibiting, and disables you from remembering that it's Hanukkah until you see your own decorations at home. They are reminders that here we celebrate and get excited for Hanukkah.

I have attempted to be excited about Christmas. I want to enjoy the Grinch and Santa Claus. But I can't because I simply do not celebrate that holiday. You do, which is perfectly fine. I'm excited for you that you celebrate it.

But please leave me be.

This is a glimpse into the world of what it's like for people who don't celebrate Christmas, because there are a lot of us. There's a connection during December between those of us who don't celebrate Christmas that people who do won't quite ever understand. Maybe this will help.

Carly Wittman is a resident of Portland.

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