• Marina Harte

I opted out of Christmas and you can too

Minimalism is challenging at the best of times let alone at Christmas. I am not overly fussed with presents, in fact I am more grateful when you don’t give me anything. A text with Merry Christmas is sufficient if you really feel like sharing. I honestly have enough. More than enough.

Half of my family is of a different religious persuasion which means they don’t celebrate Christmas at all. I was initially shocked. How can you not do Christmas? It’s like eating and drinking.

One year, for no reason at all we opted out of Christmas, birthdays, the lot. Anything that we were traditionally obligated to celebrate, we opted out of. In fact, I went food shopping on Christmas Eve to find the shops completely deserted. What a relief.

After the birth of our son who is now 4, we celebrate a modified version of gift-giving and have a tree but again, this is well and truly a stripped-back version of what the major shopping centres would expect me to do.

The values of Christmas don’t sit right within me. I cringe at anything that sets expectations for purchasing behaviour. This is even more true for those who cannot afford to have a Christmas with the bells and whistles.

I have seen charity posters with pictures of a sad child with the message that this child too should receive presents at Christmas time. I feel saddened that families struggling to meet their everyday needs need to feel this pressure.

My son’s childcare centre encourages the belief in Santa and that he will bring presents under your Christmas Tree. Some people get offended at the fact that we choose to tell our son that dad buys the presents under the tree and there is no Santa Clause. I consider the kids whose parents do not have the means to afford all the stuff their peers are getting.

With the bushfires raging in many parts of Australia, wildlife struggling to survive and volunteers dying to save people and property we are more concerned about Santa bringing us just the right item under the tree.

My message is this - I want to empower to say no, opt-out or modify to suit you. I promise you won’t get coal down your chimney, in fact, life will go on.

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