While a part of me can understand this response, most of me doesn't get why it is warranted. If I said that I hated Halloween, it likely wouldn't deter people from telling a ridiculous story about the time they started flirting with Ke$ha before realizing it was a man. But for some reason Christmas is different. I don't even really think it's about religion anymore. There is just this ingrained idea that Christmas is special and sacred and that everybody needs to love it. Unless you don't celebrate. Which people tend to forget is the case for a lot of people.
Ultimately, while there is a certain inherent sacredness to some holidays (for some people), I find that the true magic comes in the memories the holidays hold. At the very least, that is the way in which I think about holidays. For Christmas, the memories aren't particularly special.
My earliest actual memory of Christmas (there are obviously a few more than can be pieced together from pictures... 'oh, I remember that toy!' - but they aren't actual memories) is the year that my father got my mother a cookbook. I don't remember a single thing I got, but I remember how mad my mother was that my father got her something that wasn't for her (despite her apparent love for cooking). After that, I don't remember a single Christmas until I moved to Germany. I remember my mother trying to buy me a few things that she couldn't afford and feeling guilty that she got me anything. The next one was a year later. I was back home in Canada and my Grandmother had sent gifts. I remember how angry my step-mother was that my Grandmother had spent more money on me than on my much younger step- and half-siblings and the ensuing family conflict that it caused. The next memorable one came a few years later when my family set the tree up while I wasn't home. It was one of the few traditions that I enjoyed and I was crushed that they did it without me. The next couple years were unmemorable in any way. I don't recall what I received, I don't recall what we did. They are blank spaces. Then I started University. The first Christmas I spent with the family of my boyfriend at the time. While it was very kind of them to include me, all I could think about was the fact that my own family lived 2 blocks away and didn't invite me, didn't call me, didn't acknowledge my existence. The next year, we were broken up and I spent Christmas alone in silence in my dorm room.
Since that Christmas alone, I've rekindled with my father who has gone out with an array of girlfriends. Now the holiday isn't defined by my childhood or family or any traditions built over time. It's defined by whoever is girlfriend is... most of them have been lovely and kind but it still doesn't make up for the feeling of lost tradition. There was one who ensured we all got showered with gifts and love and her traditions. Another refused to give me a recipe for a casserole I loved.
This year I couldn't help but stare at the tree that I used to love to help set up. The one that I coated in ornaments carefully taken out of their boxes every year and admired for weeks while it twinkled in lights and tinsel. This year the tree was coated in generic plain bulbs. No sign remained of the ones I remember from my childhood. Part of me wanted to ask my dad where they were, if I could have them. That might be the best Christmas gift I could possibly receive.
As I stood starting at the tree, I realized I couldn't ask. I realized that I didn't want to hear the answer that I knew would come. While I loved those ornaments and remembered them as the only constant for most of my Christmases; Christmases that spanned both countries and families, they were likely now forgotten in a thrift store, or perhaps a new home somewhere, lost in the countless moves and life changes.
I couldn't hear that.
Someday I might like the holiday again. But it'll take awhile for those memories to change. I suspect that once I create my own family and start collecting my own ornaments and creating traditions, they will.
Until then, I will continue to hate Christmas.