First, no TV. Watching shows on Netflix or by download is blissfully free of advertising. No salespeople dressed up as Santa Claus, no "gift ideas" for
Next, I haven't stepped foot in a mall. Not that I ever do much mall shopping, but my hair salon is in a mall, and sometimes some obligatory gift or errand forces me into the insanity. Not this year.
Most importantly, I'm not working as legal support staff anymore. This means no more listening to co-workers recite lists of what they are buying for whom. I don't know why people do this (they can't possibly think anyone else cares?), but for me it was the low-point of the office work environment. And it's gone!
Something also happened on the positive side of the equation. At our staff holiday lunch, people were talking about their Christmas traditions - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, which family they see on which day. Many have traditions connected to their ethnic heritage, like Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7, or seafood dinners on Christmas Eve, as many families of Italian descent do. One person was attending a sing-a-long Messiah, someone else was preparing for an extended-family tree-trimming party.
This was the first time in many years I was exposed to a Christmas that wasn't only about consumption, unhappy obligation, and stress. It was comforting to know that people have Christmas traditions that they truly love and value, beyond spending money.
I still dislike and resent that a religious holiday is a national holiday, and we're all expected to participate. I am still disgusted by the massive increase in advertising and consumerism in our world already supersaturated with consumerism.
But hiding in my little Christmas-free cocoon is a little easier this year.
* There are some very interesting discussions in those threads.