That’s right – I don’t do Christmas.
But before you start feeling sorry for me, let me tell you that it’s not in a ‘bah humbug’ kind of way. And I haven’t always been like this so let me explain why I don’t do Christmas.
Of course, when I was a child, growing up in our family, we celebrated Christmas every year in Australia.
That meant lunches and dinners with extended family on the 25th and 26th December, a Christmas tree heavily decorated with both bought and homemade decorations, Christmas carols, Christmas parties, Christmas presents – well, you know what I mean. They were absolutely normal, traditional, Australian Christmases. And being Australian I even remember one year we had Christmas on the beach when my daughter was little.
So, I’m from a culture where Christmas is celebrated by almost everyone in the community.
And when I had my daughter we continued these traditions and had some very wonderful Christmases together with family and friends.
And there were presents. Lots of presents. I think I tried to over-compensate for something because my daughter was thoroughly spoilt at Christmas time. Every single time.
The presents under the tree every year formed a small mountain. And as she was an only child, almost all of those presents were for her.
I’m sure she was happy about that.
Then she grew up and left home, so my Christmases became a little more low-key. We still sometimes had lunches or dinners on Christmas day, and exchanged presents, but living without a child in the house was completely different. I just didn’t feel the need to have a Christmas tree or decorations in the house.
Heading abroad to a new culture
I left Australia just a couple of days after Christmas, in 2006. I don’t really remember much about that Christmas. I was staying with my sister at the time and maybe she had a tree and maybe we exchanged presents (she had young children at the time), but I don’t really remember.
And if you know my story, you’ll know that I left Australia to go to live in Moscow, Russia. And I arrived in Russia in January.
So, because I arrived in Russian in January, I had to wait almost a whole year to experience the fabulous ‘white Christmas’ that those of us who grow up in hot countries can only dream about.
The year passed, and during that time I learnt that Russians don’t celebrate our ‘western’ Christmas. They celebrate Orthodox Christmas on 7th January – and it’s very low-key.
Their biggest party is New Year’s Eve. That’s when it all happens.
New Year in Russia
They have New Year trees as you’ve probably seen in my post from a couple of years ago. They give presents at New Year. They have parties, drinking, fireworks, and everyone’s ready to be happy and celebrate together.
It’s a bit like ‘our’ Christmas, but just a little bit later.
I must say, though, that the commercialism I see in Australia, and that I participated in by buying my daughter mountains of presents every year, doesn’t really exist in Russia.
Sure, they give presents in Russia, but from what I saw while I was there, people don’t go crazy in the shops before New Year. There were not hordes of people in the shopping centres, filling up their trolleys with enormous amounts of presents and food. It was quite low-key compared to what I used to see in Australia.
I don’t remember if my first 25th December in Russia was a white Christmas or not. It was a working day so I was at work teaching. We probably had a Christmas themed lesson, as we did these every year with our students.
Over the years in Russia, the 25th December Christmas became further and further from my life, and even though other foreign teachers in my school celebrated, I never did. No tree. No carols. And no presents.
Getting married didn’t change things
And then after a couple of years in Moscow I got married to Olivier. And even though he’s French and not Russian, he also wasn’t really too interested in Christmas. We’ve never exchanged presents at Christmas, not even the first one we spent together.
Living in Russia together for 10 years also meant that the traditional western Christmas was never really on our radar – it passed us by while we were concentrating on our jobs in the build-up to our New Year holiday plans.
Christmas in Bulgaria
And now, we live in Bulgaria. It’s not Christmas yet, but from what I’ve heard, they celebrate on 25th December, just like we do in Australia. There’s already plenty of Christmas decorations up in the town, in the streets, in people’s windows, and in the shops.
I’m not sure what we’re going to be doing on 25th December this year. We may get together with some friends, either Bulgarian or foreigners, and have a little party – the first Christmas party I will experience in many, many years.
So, I’m not a ‘bah humbug I don’t do Christmas’ type of person, I’m a ‘my life has led me away from this holiday’ person, but it looks like things just might change this year.
The photo below was taken in the entrance of the building we currently live in. The tree is just about the right size for me.
What about you? Do you have big celebrations at Christmas time with lots of presents, or is your Christmas more low-key? Or maybe you celebrate an Orthodox Christmas in January? Let me know your Christmas plans in the comments below.