And so this is Christmas?  By Lisa Ellex

And so this is Christmas? By Lisa Ellex

. 4 min read

One PrimeCush writer urges us all, this holiday season, to choose peace over all else.

On a sunny afternoon just after Labor Day, I entered a well-known home improvement store to have keys made. I barely made it through the huge automatic doors when I was assaulted with Christmas trees, animated snowmen, talking reindeer, creepy elves, three wise men on camels, Santa Claus figures from around the world, and other garish decorations chirping poorly-recorded Christmas tunes and other indecipherable sounds. School-age children had barely made it through their first week of classes and already moms and dads were being pressured into the commercial spirit of the season.

And so this is Christmas? Yes, once again, the holidays are upon us. This year, Christmas will arrive between her sisters Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, only to be followed up with what I consider to be the most forced and dreaded holiday of all – New Year's Eve. For many, December is a difficult month; thirty-one full days of S.A.D., stressing over cooking and shopping, forced meals with politically misinformed family members (my fear of prison is the only thing that prevents me from hitting my cousin’s husband in the temple with a full tray of boiling hot lasagne), partaking in unwanted travel, deeply missing lost loved ones while attempting to spread good cheer, and for those with mental health issues, enduring the dark and lonely daily struggle.

Welcome to The Christmas War: the internal conflict between what is expected of us and how we really, deep down, would like to spend those Hallmark holidays. Some of us might opt to be alone with a significant other, while others prefer to stay in bed with the covers pulled over our heads, emerging only to eat, drink, and watch old movies. Some desire intimate gatherings, while others will have nothing less than full pageantry. And let’s not forget those selfless souls who choose to spend their time volunteering for the needy or spending the day at an animal shelter. For me, they are the true heroes of the holiday battlefield.

“But it’s just another day on the calendar,” some say. Maybe. For many, if the day is not about religious belief, it’s about tradition. It’s a marker of the memories that prove where we came from. It’s our history.

I recall one Christmas when I was a college freshman and my entire New York family decided to visit our recently relocated Florida relatives. For reasons I can’t recall, I chose to stay behind. Before my mother left, we put up the Christmas tree, exchanged presents, and said our goodbyes. When I awoke on Christmas Eve morning, I stared at the tree and wondered how I could celebrate alone yet continue tradition and make a memory. I took a walk to our local gourmet shop, making a point of saying “happy holiday” to every kind-faced folk I encountered. I purchased my favorite foods, then continued on to the liquor store for my first legally-purchased bottle of wine (the drinking age in New York was 18 at the time). I felt like a grown-up. A lonely grown-up but, nonetheless, a grown-up. Once home, I put on some Christmas music, enjoyed my little feast, and meditated on Christmases past, recalling the day that I learned about “the big lie,” a.k.a. The Santa Scam.

If you ever believed in Santa Claus, you no doubt recall the day your parents sat you down and said, “We have something to tell you…” The magic was over for six-year-old me the day I found toys in the hall closet – the same toys that appeared under our Christmas tree a few days later. I felt a betrayal, a distrust, so deep that I would have preferred my parents had told me Santa had died in a sleigh accident and the reindeer got taken out with him. It’s the day that the first piece of your childhood falls away. But an upside of leaving childhood is discovering your voice and the power of saying “no.” The day I realized I possessed this power was one of the most liberating days of my life, and today, guilt-free, I can use that power to say “no” to unwanted holiday madness and celebrate in my own way. Just like George Costanza’s father on Festivus.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, there are at least 35 live conflicts currently happening worldwide (up from 27 last year at this time). (Find their Global Conflict Tracker here.) In the pursuit of peace, let’s keep the holidays conflict-free and give each other the gift of permission to celebrate (or not) in whatever fashion we choose.

And so my friends, in the words of John and Yoko, “A very Merry Christmas, and a happy new year, let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. (War is over, if you want it, war is over now.)”

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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