Last week I mentioned some tough critique I had received for my questionable beliefs about the stranglehold the Christmas holidays have over Western society. In particular, MasterDebator had the following to say to my first piece on opting out of Christmas:
“Why don’t YOU completely give up Christmas yourself, hurt everyone’s feelings to do so and see how it goes before you broadcast to everyone that this is the morally right thing to do.”
Now, I know a gauntlet when I see one. And this particular person has been challenging me to new heights from eating dog food in elementary school to jumping into San Francisco Bay just last year. I’ve never backed down from a MasterDebator challenge and I’ve always emerged a better person for it, and this time will be no different. Here it is for the world to see:
I solemnly swear to completely give up Christmas next year.
Everyone now has fair warning – I will not be giving or receiving presents, cards, saying “Merry Christmas”, attending parties, or even producing any Christmas-themed videos, despite how much I was looking forward to making my “patchouli hair” piano rendition of “All I Want for Christmas”. I will, however, be keeping the spirit of Christmas alive by engaging in charitable pursuits that alleviate suffering and spread knowledge in the world.
Continuing on this topic, I mentioned in “How to Opt Out of Christmas” that you should start planning your boycott in October of next year. I now realize this is too late. Right now is the time to start opting out, if that is your wish. Here’s a 1-2-3 on what you need to do, and readers feel free to chime in with suggestions, as I am still a white belt opter out:
1) make a list of people to whom you normally give gifts at Christmas. Periodically review the list and do nice or thoughtful things for these people at random or unexpected times.1
2) plan a charity retreat for as much of the “critical period” as possible – that’s all of December through the first week of January. Consider volunteering at a farm, a disaster relief site, or working with a larger organization like Habitat for Humanity.
3) if you need to stay local, check with shelters, schools, churches and see what activities they have planned.2 Or start planning your own centered around something you can share, whether it be your cooking, a skill, or simply your company.
This idea of a charity retreat is one way parents who have already indoctrinated their children into the annual Christmas routine of excessive consumption can instill some real values while not completely erasing the holiday from memory. OK, I know MasterDebator, better wait until I have children of my own before I start telling all the parents out there to blast Santa Claus and his good-behavior-rewarding ways from the poor children’s experience. Fine, I’ll start with just me and let people know how it goes – but that’ll be on the to-do list for parenting when the time comes, along with homeschooling and other difficult but worthwhile pursuits (looking forward already to the conversations with my one and only on the subject!).
There is more to say on these topics, and I left MasterDebator’s last critique in the balance. That’s a long answer but if I had to do it in one sentence I’d simply say – we are all a product of the good and evil that exists in the world; still we can and should renounce the evil and pursue the good, for the betterment of ourselves, the species, the planet, and the universe.
That’s it for this week. Next week I look forward to delving into why it matters less than nil that it is a “new year”, and why resolutions based on that fact will never work. Happy week ahead!
1 This will help alleviate any concern about hurting others’ feelings, which MasterDebator pointed out is somewhat callous
2 Yes, I am critical of some of these institutions but they do also engage in good works
- A Christmas Piano Tutorial
- The Ginza Farmers Market (a primer)