Occupy December: 5 Joyful Protests if Christmas is Not Your Gig

You wouldn’t knostripedcatw it by looking around anytime from mid-November through the start of the New Year, but there are some of us who don’t get all that jazzed about the holiday season. We’re the 1 percent.

Oh, I know, most folks are running around, crazy psycho-consumers on fast-forward, choosing a tree (doesn’t it seem like Christmas tree prices have risen as fast as health insurance premiums and college tuition?), chug-a-lugging eggnog, agonizing over a cashmere scarf for the mother-in-law (did we give her one last   year?), racing inexorably towards the crescendo of that one perfect, joyful day.

And some actually like it.  But not all.

Believe it or not, there are folks out there who just don’t play.  For some it’s religious, for some it’s lack of family.  Some abhor the commercialization and others can’t see spending all that $$ to stimulate the retail economy.

Whatever the reason, there are numbers of people left with noses pressed up against the glass on Christmas.  And to make matters worse, everything’s closed.  Locked up tight.  No room at the inn.  So here are some ideas to keep your family’s day merry and bright if Santa’s sleigh glided right on past your chimney …

Movies and Chinese food. Followed by another movie.  These are the mainstays of many a Jewish family on Christmas Day.  Theaters are waiting to entertain the masses after the presents have been opened, toys broken, and ribbons and bows forgotten, so just start early.

Show up for the first showing at the multiplex and hop from one flick to the next on a single admission.  Before you know it, you’re starving ( in spite of the popcorn and Raisinettes), so head to the nearest Chinese joint (they don’t observe the sanctity of the day either) and go wild.  For something different, try ordering only dishes you’ve never tried before.

Fill up your heart by volunteering to serve a meal to someone in need.  Could be at a shelter, or could be a gathering at your place for those with no place to go on the holiday.  Make it an annual tradition and you might end up changing your mind about the season.

Ski trip! Well-kept secret:  The slopes are empty on Christmas and the week before.  Apparently families stay home to open presents and then take off for ski vacations.  Crowds start to mushroom on the 26th and peak on New Year’s Day.  Truly.

Choose the 25th as your travel day.  If you’re visiting family or friends over the holidays, plan to spend THE day in the air, car or train.  Prices tend to be lower, crowds  are nonexistent, and there’s a spirit of comraderie that makes it feel like an adventure. By the time you reach your destination you’ll realize you never had that empty, lonely sensation at all.

Invite yourselves to join the celebration with friends who do it up big. Joy is infectious, and there’s nothing better than spending a holiday not your own with folks who really love it.  No pressure — just bask in the glow.

What NOT to do? Don’t even think about taking the family to Disneyland.  We did it once, thinking ‘who goes to Disneyland on Christmas?’  Answer: more people than any other day of the year.  They typically end up closing the gates for several hours mid-day when the park reaches capacity.  Lesson learned.

So whatever your tradition, toss the guilt, have some fun, and make it a great holiday for you and yours.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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