Christmas Spirit? Bah Humbug!

December 6, 2011 Becky Oberg

I have a confession to make--I'm not feeling the Christmas Spirit.

This is especially disconcerting because my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder tells me I "should" feel a certain way. I should be happy, generous, loving, especially kind to people I've never met or don't like. I should buy gifts for everyone dear to me. I should single-handedly bail the post office out of bankruptcy by sending Christmas cards.

But I don't, and I don't really care who knows it. To be honest, I feel like Beck-anezer Scrooge--Bah, Humbug! And that's okay.


Be honest with yourself

I realize not all of my readers celebrate Christmas. However, since that's the predominant holiday--you don't see movies about the joy of Festivus (this coming from someone who hates Seinfeld)--I'll use that as the default term. According to the movies and TV specials, this sense of joy is supposed to enrapture us. We're supposed to be nicer to everyone, upbeat, giving--in short, jolly old St. Nicholas incarnate. But if this is at the cost of being honest with ourselves, it's all hollow. It's a guaranteed way to have post-holiday depression.

To me, the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus. In my religion, the Son of God came to earth as a baby. Weak. Vulnerable. If the Son of God came to us that way, then there's nothing wrong with being the same way--weak, vulnerable, needy. We need to admit our weakness, our vulnerability, our neediness, to ourselves and God. Honesty is liberating, and an especially good way to feel the freedom to experience life. Now that's something to be joyful about.

True Christmas love

Christmas is a hard time for me; people I love tend to die in December. We lost my maternal grandfather to cancer on Christmas Eve when I was a child. There was not a lot of joy that year. Or the year a classmate of mine was killed in a gun accident about two weeks before Christmas. For a lot of people, there is grieving involved in this time of year.

Instead of inane cheerfulness, may I propose Christmas be a time of compassion? A time to really "love thy neighbor"? Compassion is understanding that not everyone feels the way you're "supposed" to feel. Compassion is standing beside those who may be written off as not feeling the spirit. Compassion is love.

Love isn't a feeling. Love is an action. It is showing that you care in spite of your own feelings about the time of year. It is being there for someone. Love isn't gifts, Christmas cards, or any material object. Love is accepting someone for who they are, not what they can do or give. Love gives you the ability to feel joy, hope, happiness, cheerfulness and all those other holiday emotions. Christmas is a time of love.

Lessons from Charlie Brown's Christmas tree

I have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree for a number of reasons. First, finances--I have to keep it simple. Second, I'm a fan of A Charlie Brown Christmas. In my opinion, that's the special that comes the closest to capturing the true meaning of Christmas. The tree reminds me of the vulnerability of people, be they Charlie Brown, Becky Oberg or Baby Jesus.

The tree is not impressive. But who says it has to be? Who says Christmas has to be impressive and showy? I prefer a Christmas with honesty and compassion--the simple things.

The tree has a grand total of two ornaments--the famous red ball, and a blue and gold ball depicting the shepherds and Magi. But does it really need more ornaments? Is the sum of Christmas measured in quantity instead of quality?

The tree is just like us--weak, bent down by a nearly unbearable weight, yet somehow beautiful. To me, that's what Christmas is about--a strengthening of the weak, a lightening of the load, appreciation of the beautiful in spirit. No "Bah, Humbug!" there.

Happy Holidays.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2011, December 6). Christmas Spirit? Bah Humbug!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Becky Oberg

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