Sometime during the past century, Christmas became complicated. As Meredith Deland put it in 1904, “Twenty-five years ago, Christmas was not the burden that it is now. There was less haggling and weighing, less quid pro quo, less fatigue of the body, less wearing of the soul; and most of all, there was less loading up with trash.”
Clearly, we did not figure out how to solve this problem during the twentieth century. Instead, we have doubled down with more fatigue, more wearing of the soul, and far more trash.
If gift giving is your love language, coming up with fun elf antics brings you and your family joy, and making picture-perfect baked goods makes your season bright, keep it up. The world needs people like you who know how to make celebrations special. But we do not all need to be that person, any more than we all need to be artists, engineers, mystics, or accountants.
For the rest of us whose specialty is not holiday magic, we should feel free to return to an 1800s Christmas that did not require so much of us, especially moms or single parents. If you are struggling with the loss of a family member, the loss of a job, illness, financial hardship, or simply opting out of the holiday circus this year, remember that this season does not define you as a parent.
To the parent with two presents under the tree
To the parent with thirty presents under the tree
To the parent with no tree
To the parent who asked for donations
To the parent who hasn’t shopped yet
To the parent who can’t do anything this year
To the parent whose kids don’t believe in Santa
To the parent whose kids believe in Santa
To the parent with difficult relatives
To the parent with no relatives
To the grieving parent
To the newly single parent
To all parents
This season does not define you as a parent