What do you call someone who loves the holidays and enjoys repeating traditions every year? Because whatever that person is called, I'm not quite the opposite - I'm not a total Grinch - but I'm far less likely to entertain the hustle and bustle of the season on purpose. I like crossing my eyes and staring at all the lights (creating the effect in the photo above), and I like giving gifts to people I love if I see something I know for a fact they need or would really like; but aside from those two things, I'm a nontraditional celebrant.
I don't listen to Christmas music.
This year, Mat and I are spending Christmas in Germany with a blogger I know and her family. Along with requests for Big Red and Reese's came an ask for a typical American Christmas CD. I had no idea finding a CD was going to be such an undertaking. Did you know that Target only has a single section of CDs now? I mean, I haven't bought a CD for at least 10 years, but I was shocked at the lack of selection. I'm also lazy and didn't want to go too far out of my way to find one.
Anyway, I picked up the obvious choice; one of the only choices I could make. I'm sure you know exactly which one I'm talking about, but I'm not linking to it because I don't want to ruin the surprise. Truth be told, I don't listen to Christmas music so I'm not really sure what all is out there. I don't know why I don't listen to Christmas music, I just... don't like it. Heresy, I know. I hear it in stores and at other people's houses but that's about it. I do prefer the older versions of songs though. Give me some Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. The fact that Sia has a Christmas album is weird to me, and I refuse to listen to it.
I don't watch Christmas movies either. I prefer movies where Christmas happens but it's not the focus. I don't have food traditions and if any were starting without me realizing it, they'll change now that I'm vegetarian. We also don't give gifts every year, and sometimes we don't have a tree.
I don't even know what Advent is.
I mean, I know what it is. But I never got into it when I was a Christian. I am a heretic (in more ways than one). Christianity is chock-full of traditions, holiday and otherwise. But Jesus' birthday is not December 25. Or so it's argued.
Growing up, our house was decorated mostly with traditional Christmas decorations, but we always had a ceramic manger scene on display. I collected glass animals when I was younger so I liked playing with the camel and the donkey when they came out. But aside from hearing the story of Mary and Joseph, and the three wise men at church, we didn't do any bible-reading at home for the holidays. My immediate family has always been very low-key and casual with the celebrating; and I like it. We'd get a tree no sooner than a week before Christmas (because who wants to have a tree around longer, taunting you with wrapped presents for an entire month?) and we always opened presents as soon as we were done buying for everyone, which meant we never had to wait until December 25. That nontraditional tradition is the only one I've managed to bring into marriage.
Traditions feel like rules.
And rules are meant to be broken.
I think I'm just a nontraditional person in general. I still celebrate the holidays, in my own way, but I like to experience traditions by stripping the "rules" away as much as possible. I'm not sentimental about most things so the holidays don't need to play out a certain way. Mat and I set the stage for our marriage with our wedding.
We were married on a Thursday in a different state because we didn't want people to come. We didn't have a wedding party because we didn't want to deal with the drama. We didn't cut our cake in front of anyone or feed each other. We didn't have a first dance or even a dance floor. I didn't want to bother with flowers so I had a single bouquet to carry while I walked down the aisle, and I gave them to the only teenage girl in attendance as soon as our photographer told me he was done with them. I also walked down the aisle to The Luckiest by Ben Folds and it was the only song we had. We didn't light a unity candle and our ceremony was as short as it could possibly be. I didn't toss my bouquet and Mat didn't dive under my dress to slip a garter off my thigh. When the sun began to set, we met our friends and family on the beach for a bonfire with s'mores. The most traditional aspect of our wedding was the fact that I wore a wedding dress and Mat wore a suit. Five years after our wedding, I trashed my dress at the Portland Color Run and was reprimanded by people on Facebook. "But what will you have to show for your wedding day?!"
Um. My marriage. And this great video.
We are leaving the country.
This year we've changed things up yet again and are continuing our nontraditional celebrating with travel. We visited friends in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and we'll have a snowy German Christmas before ringing in the New Year in Amsterdam. The thought of doing this more often is pretty appealing... but I don't know if it'll get me on the annual tradition train. We'll see.
In any event, I hope you and yours have a very Happy traditional or nontraditional Holiday!