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Anyone choose NOT to celebrate Christmas?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Christmas is a very stressful topic for DH and I. We have a 5month old and I want to get it straight what our xmas plans should be nice and early, as this 'baby's first xmas' will likely set the stage for every christmas to come.

We are mostly struggling with a) should we even celebrate at all? b)if we do celebrate - to what extent? Every time I bring it up, DH gets in a bad mood and doesnt want to 'talk about christmas anymore'.

Basically, DH has bad memries of christmas from childhood and claims to never have liked it. He's mostly an introvert and doesnt like to get together in large groups, nor open or receive presents. He struggles with finding the true meaning of christmas when surrounded with a large family who are very superficial and only concerned with presents (which tend to be lots and lots of cheap junky stuff no one really needs). he particularly remembers alwyas being disappointed in the presents his parents gave him on christmas and is sure that nothing will ever be good enough. For this reason, he hates buying presents and usually doesn't.

I, on the other hand, have good memories of christmas as a kid: eating lots of candy and getting lots of presents. Never disappointed as I always got nearly everything I asked for. But this isn't exactly what I would want DD's experience to be.

I just don't know what to do. Part of me thinks we could get by with just not celebrating... but I fear how our families will feel about it and we don't want to be singled out as being 'weird' or 'mean' parents.

I think I could strive to make it a more meaningful holiday experience rather than just a month of consumerism and a day of opening presents. But the thought of DH stressing out and not enjoying it .. year after year... has me puzzled.

What would you do? Anyone been in this situation? Anyone not celebrate even though they grew up celebrating christmas and whose families still do?
How do you manage it? What do you do on Christmas day while your family is getting together and you're off work?
post #2 of 26
we havent celebrated xmas in 10 years. no tree, no gifts (giving or receiving) and we treat it like any other day and dont attend family functions.

exs family who dont buy the kids gifts any other time try to let us give rhem gifts, we dont accept and tell them they have any other time of year for that.

not celebrating has been so stress free and we dont waste a lot of $
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post #3 of 26
It sounds to me like you and DH need to define your own Christmas. I'd also question what you believe about the holiday. If you both believe that it celebrates the birth of Christ and wish to celebrate that he was born then make the focus about that. If Christmas is about family moments and traditions (though that doesn't sound like the case for DH) then focus on that.

You don't need to have anyone else Christmas celebration. If Church and take out Chinese is the Christmas tradition you want for you family with no or minimal gifts then make it about that.

If Santa is a real person for your family celebrate him in whatever way you feel comfortable, if he's a mythical creature who it's fun to tell stories about but who isn't real. Decide that now and make that the reality of your holiday. If Santa drops off an orange and a few chocolates, let that be who he is or he can be the bearer of the 1 Christmas gift you give.

It doesn't matter what you decide to make Christmas. But make it something new and meaningful for your DH, children and yourself. It doesn't matter how anyone else chooses to view the holiday.
post #4 of 26
Kind of... If it were just our family, then no we would not celebrate it at all. (We are Christian, but I feel the holiday is so far from what we actually believe I don't see it as a religious holiday at all and can find other times to celebrate our faith.) My MIL however is totally all over Christmas so we do the traditional dinner and presents stuff with her.

My parents could really take it or leave it I think. They always went big for us and they like to do things for my kids, but we are kind of transitioning to a family weekend vacation thing with them at a different time of year which is a lot less stressful and they can still do all the presents and stuff.

We do not do Santa at all. That is where we've gotten the most comments. My kids always correct strangers when they are asked what Santa is bringing them. That gets a lot of odd looks. Eh, nothing I can do about it. (ETA: Strangers, as in adults, not that they are telling other kids that there is no such thing.)
post #5 of 26
We have never done xmas with our kids. We traveled for years at the holidays and then developed our own Soup and Solstice tradition. No gifts. No santa. No crazy making.
post #6 of 26
Lots of people don't celebrate Christmas. I'm not one of them (I love Christmas!), but there's nothing wrong with it.

However, in your case, OP, I agree with JollyGG. You and your dh need to hammer out your own Christmas and what it means to the two of you. A few thoughts...

We do exchange gifts on Christmas...usually 2-3 each way between me and dh (that will be one fairly big gift, one smaller gift, and maybe a more jokey gift...like the DVD of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians that I gave dh last year)...and three each for the kids (that includes one from Santa, plus a big and a little gift from us...and sometimes there'll also be a group gift from Santa). But, that's not really the focus, as there are lots of other things we enjoy:

We eat a dessert at Christmas that we don't eat any other time of the year.

We bake together, and we decorate a gingerbread house every year (sometimes homemade gingerbread, and sometimes a kit).

We have an activity advent calender (first time last year - I got the idea here), and that includes making pinecone bird feeders the day before Solstice, then going for a nature walk and hanging the feeders on the Solstice. (It also includes getting the tree, baking, decorating, crafts, watching Christmas movies, etc.)

As far as the extended family goes, that can be tricky. Maybe try a year with no gift exchange between the adults, so the grandparents and aunts/uncles can get gifts for your ds. See how it goes. If it's overboard, then you need to discuss that.

And...what you do this year isn't sealed in stone. It really isn't. I've changed traditions over the years. And, the only gift my babies have received from us is a full Canadian coin set, minted in the year of his/her birth. (Since we do Santa, dd2 also got a small stocking, just to keep up the story for the middle two.)

As for what to do on the actual day? It's a bit tricky with a small baby, but if you don't want to celebrate, and you enjoy movies, Christmas is a great day to go to the movie theater. They're very uncrowded and peaceful.
post #7 of 26
I think it's totally your call to make, but if your DH shuts down and won't discuss it and you're conflicted about it, then there's a good chance your family members will be a bit baffled.

Not that you necessarily "owe" anyone an explanation, but Christmas is a hugely important cultural tradition for many people, so if you're planning to drastically change your participation in your family's celebrations, you might want to clarify (at least for yourselves) your philosophy about why.
post #8 of 26
When DD was still under a year, we had Christmas just the three of us. I didn't want it to be that one set of gparents got to see her for her first xmas, unfairly, whatever. We got her a little wool doll, a cloth ball, and some babylegs. We went to church. We had some ham and sweet potatoes and salad. We went for a walk on the beach. We just hung out! We certainly did it differently the next couple years.

Luckily, DH's family doesn't have strong xmas trads, but my family does, and they are way more centered on decorating with the same old stuff, baking, cooking really good food, crafts, and just hanging out together. We've done that at our house with family over, and we've gone to my parents', and it's all been good. I'm lucky that my family is really into NOT overdoing gifts. We don't want DD to be so focused on that, but we do stockings from Santa as a sort of in-between, since our original plan of not doing e Santa didn't quite work (DD insists there is one, over our statements, so we're going with it). We do one nice big gift from us (ie nice playfood one year, to go with other kitchen stuff from Santa, and a really nice doll I made and clothes and stuff to go with it) and then everyone else is free to do some gifts for her; they are mostly awesome things like wood toys or books or experiences.

But DH and I have talked about holidays and xmas in particular for a while, b/c we were stressed when his family didn't celebrate and it fell to us, or we ended up sitting around with them NOT really celebrating and it was SO sad for me and even DH. So we had worked out what we wanted and enjoyed, and we go with it. I agree with PPs, that's what you two need to do. I think not celebrating is one good option, but maybe checking out some books about family traditions might help, too. Maybe some kind of service work would be a good tradition, or lighting a special candle and saying something meaningful for you... I like the idea of making holidays really personal, and cutting out the stuff you don't like.
post #9 of 26
There are plenty of good reasons not to celebrate Christmas or any other winter holiday if you don't want to. However, if you want to then it would be nice if your partner would muster up some enthusiasm and contribute to the three of you finding a way to celebrate or be together in a way that's meaningful or at least fun, you know?

Quote:
DH has bad memries of christmas from childhood and claims to never have liked it. He's mostly an introvert and doesnt like to get together in large groups, nor open or receive presents. He struggles with finding the true meaning of christmas when surrounded with a large family who are very superficial and only concerned with presents (which tend to be lots and lots of cheap junky stuff no one really needs). he particularly remembers alwyas being disappointed in the presents his parents gave him on christmas and is sure that nothing will ever be good enough. For this reason, he hates buying presents and usually doesn't.
To me, that all seems kind of selfish. He didn't get what he wanted for Christmas and has never recovered? He hates buying gifts? And doesn't like to be around people? Eh. Would you and your child enjoy some kind of holiday? Isn't that enough reason for him to make an effort?

As much as "baby's first Christmas" sets a precedent, so does not doing something important to you and potentially your child because Daddy doesn't want to make the effort.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh and I want to be clear, I have ZERO ISSUE with people choosing not to celebrate a holiday but to me, if my partner wanted to opt out of something important to me and something I wanted to share with my child because he didn't get the right gifts as a kid, I would be very unhappy with him.
post #10 of 26
post #11 of 26
We've never done Christmas, but we do try to go on a special outing during that time of year. We've explained to the children why we don't do Christmas and that instead we do such and such. They have all been okay with this while simultaneously being respectful of those who choose to celebrate winter holidays.
post #12 of 26
Dh hated Christmas too. Until we had kids, especially once ds1 got to be 2 or 3. Now...the man is CRAZY. I think he'd buy out entire toy stores if we had the money & space. He buys several sets of lights every year & strings them every where. He insists at putting up the tree at the beginning of December & leaving it until well after New Year's. I almost miss the grinch.

All that to say, your dh might change his attitude about it as your little one gets older. Our first 2 Christmases, we had just us & ds. It was nice & quiet & cozy.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Christmas is a very stressful topic for DH and I. We have a 5month old and I want to get it straight what our xmas plans should be nice and early, as this 'baby's first xmas' will likely set the stage for every christmas to come.

We are mostly struggling with a) should we even celebrate at all? b)if we do celebrate - to what extent? Every time I bring it up, DH gets in a bad mood and doesnt want to 'talk about christmas anymore'.
First, I would like to say that what you do this year absolutely will not set the stage for future years. You can change, add or remove traditions as you see fit, and really, whatever you do this year especially is all for you anyway...nothing you do at Christmas this year will affect the baby's holiday in any way.

Second, while I love the Christmas holiday-it's in fact visions of Christmas holidays that help to fuel my desire to have kids even-it's um...August, the beginning of it. Unless you are having to decide whether or not to purchase plane tickets across the country to see family or something...I have to say that if my spouse was regularly bringin up what we are doing for Christmas, in August, I might get stressed too. And this is coming from a mom who's birthday is in December, who's oldest's birthday is in December, who's brother's birthday and BIL's birthday are both also in December. You would think advance planning for that would be a top priority for me.

You are asking your spouse to discuss a holiday that he is uncomfortable with, over 4 months before the date. Summer isn't even over yet. Honestly, at this point in the year, I don't want to talk about Christmas anymore either. Can you perhaps drop the topic for a bit and revisit it once it gets a little closer? Give your little one more time to become even more interactive, give your spouse a little more time to get used to the idea of "baby's first Christmas" and just get through the rest of summer and some of fall first? I mean, you aren't going to be buying dozens of gifts for baby or planning to host some elaborate dinner for 55 or something right? Regardless of what you decide I mean. Unless you are doing any of that, or flying across the country or to another country, most Christmas traditions just don't require all that much planning or prep time.

About Christmas itself....what have you done in the past before the baby arrived? I assume you had at least one Christmas together pre-baby, what's wrong with just doing what you did last Christmas, +1? If you gave each other a present or two, give the baby a present or two as well and call it even?
post #14 of 26
I agree with people about being able to change your traditions as you go - you don't need that kind of pressure.

Just as some perspective - I never liked the holiday either in the past; I was molested almost every Xmas growing up by a family member and my memories of the holiday are pretty grim. For several years when we didn't have kids we did kind of hole up as a couple and not celebrate much and that was fine. But we also instituted a tradition of doing some community work and that was better. It was important for me personally to move from a "this holiday never did anything FOR me" to "what can I do for people this holiday." But I don't think everyone has to do that. It just helped me.

I think for us the key now is our attitudes. We aim for low-key, low-stress, non-perfect.

Anyways some traditions we have enjoyed:

- we start with baking cookies for advent; we don't quite manage one batch of cookies per day but we try, and then we give them away. (I work out which ones freeze well and do those first.)

- last year we adopted a family; the year before we did a food bank stint earlier in the month. We look for something meaningful to do.

- we spread the gifts over three days - we have a Christmas Eve dinner where we open some; we do stocking (story on this one) Christmas day; I reserve some "box gifts" for Boxing Day. I find it helps with let down. We don't suffer from the issue of over-the-top gifts from relatives, so it's like 2-3 per day.

- Santa brings a DVD for us all to enjoy in the afternoon Christmas day, a tradition my introvert DH really approves of.

- Santa...always controversial. It was actually my son's Muslim teacher who introduced the concept to him . But since we have fairies and all that, hey, we do Santa - mildly and he doesn't worry about the 'naughty or nice.'
post #15 of 26
You could both read "unplugging the christmas machine". it helps you to define the holiday for yourselves. it`s a really great read.

you have good memories, he has bad memories, now you both need to sit down and make new memories based on what you want the holiday to mean for you.
post #16 of 26
Your situation sounds similar to ours. We always did the big xmas thing growing up, and dh doesn't have a single fond memory of it. We've been together almost 9 yrs, and after the first 1 or 2, we haven't celebrated at all. My family has a xmas breakfast tradition that we've continued, but the rest of the day is just about relaxing and being together.

Last year was tough, baby's first, but after all these years, the family is beginning to accept that we're just "weird" and have mostly stopped haranguing us. We did get a bit of a guilt trip last year, but i refuse to feed into that. I'm the mom, and if we're going to do anything, it's not the thing that is going to require the most work from me (we're also not Christian, so that feeds into the attempted guilt).

We have chosen over the years to do the big family thing at Thanksgiving, and just be low key for the rest of the silly season (my bday is also in there, so we expend our resources celebrating that, instead of brushing it aside like was the norm growing up). So far we really haven't defined what we plan for the babe, but we're open to letting it evolve (within predefined boundaries).

I will say though that one thing i hear every year here on mdc is mamas who lament that they didn't put their foot down for baby's first, and therefore spend every year in the car/airport traveling to see family. You're the one w the small babe, the adults can travel to see you.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I agree with people about being able to change your traditions as you go - you don't need that kind of pressure.

Just as some perspective - I never liked the holiday either in the past; I was molested almost every Xmas growing up by a family member and my memories of the holiday are pretty grim.

'

Oh, Mama
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devaskyla View Post
Dh hated Christmas too. Until we had kids, especially once ds1 got to be 2 or 3. Now...the man is CRAZY. I think he'd buy out entire toy stores if we had the money & space. He buys several sets of lights every year & strings them every where. He insists at putting up the tree at the beginning of December & leaving it until well after New Year's. I almost miss the grinch.

All that to say, your dh might change his attitude about it as your little one gets older. Our first 2 Christmases, we had just us & ds. It was nice & quiet & cozy.

My husband always hated the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve because as a young child his mother killed herself around that time. Understandable. It's be really cathartic for him to have a children to celebrate with. Last year we went all out, as my older son is finally old enough to really get into the Santa thing. It was a blast! OP, perhaps it can be this way for your husband, too.
post #19 of 26
You dh hates x-mas b/c he never got anything he wanted - so fix it! Get him some kid toys that he would have died for as a kid for this year, or maybe something he really really wants now for himself.

Then get your dd a few things, and buy yourself a gift since you said your dh doesn't buy gifts.

Then, change the traditions every year until you find a set that feel right. We make cinnamon rolls on x-mas morning every year before opening gifts, and then we relax the rest of the day and play in the snow if there is any.

And who said you have to go to other peoples celebrations? You don't. If you just want to stay home with your baby and dh then do it.
post #20 of 26

Similar situation in some respects

I am from a medium family who loved celebrating Christmas eventhough mom's side is Jewish.

It is my experience that you may be able to slowly show your DH the good and fun that it could be.

DH is an only child of immigrant Catholic parents, who celebrated by themselves. They never had people over, or family that lived in the country.

He has good Christmas memories, but had and still to some degree, has trouble with my larger family gatherings.

It is something I can't give up because it is so good for me to see my family, and my family is fun to be around. He is learning that after 13 years. I am having easier and easier times getting him to agree to go up for the holidays, or for them to come down. He always enjoys it. It is mainly a $$ thing for us, so we keep the cost down.

DH has also adapted to my holiday decorating, tree, light, stockings. He thinks it is beautiful after some discruntlement. I push a bit, but in the end he is happy with it. And he loves it for the kids happyness, and he sees how good extended family is for the kids.

I also think early planning is good depending on your situation. I always try telling him way ahead of time so his mind has time to adapt to it. Like telling a kid you have 5 more minutes to play. And where we go, lots of families like to go, and sometimes we need a hotel, and the best hotels book early.

Early on, when I decided not to partake or travel up for the occasion, it was hard on me. I would get grumpy.
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