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Scrooge prefers travel over Christmas

December 16, 2010
by budgettravelsac

Scrooge I may be but I still want Christmas to be fun for my family

Scrooge.  Yes, that’s my nickname.  It was given to me by my wife because of my attitude during the holidays.  Honestly, I don’t hate the holidays and it’s not a nickname I was given out of disdain.  It’s more of a comical way of labeling my stubborn, and sometimes serious, views about the holidays.

I will defend myself as a dad and say that my boys have their share of gifts (sometimes too many) and a nice big Christmas tree.  However, before my kids were ever born, I made a list of things that I wanted to do as a dad that are a bit different from the norm.  The reason I do this because I want to raise my kids with the idea of who I want them to become, not what makes them happy.  Mr. Scrooge strikes again.

Before I share Mr Scrooge’s thoughts on Christmas, I want to preempt my holidays musings with a more positive thought.  There are a lot of great things that come from the holidays – time with family and loved ones, great memories that will live with us forever, and an opportunity to focus on giving and loving rather than receiving.  It’s with that kind of attitude that I wrote 5 ways travel teaches your kids about the true meaning of Christmas.

While my thoughts and feelings about Christmas go back many years, I owe the inspiration for this particular post to Caz Makepeace with her blog post My thoughts on Christmas.  Caz and I are a lot alike in this area (and many others as well).  There is one difference here – my reputation was so well-known and deserved regarding my attitude toward Christmas my wife gave me the name ‘Scrooge.’  Caz just gave herself the nickname ‘Grinch’!  :)

Travel and Christmas

Unless you spend every Christmas traveling to a different place, many people wouldn’t put this together except for how they have to travel in order to celebrate Christmas with others.  For me, I have spent a number of Christmas holidays actually flying on Christmas Day (it’s cheaper!) as seen from the photo of Salt Lake City on Christmas Day.

For a number of years, I didn’t even have a Christmas tree.  2009 was the first year there was a Christmas tree in my house since 2002.  Growing up in my family, Christmas was always about tradition and family and my brother and I received a lot of gifts.  I have a number of great Christmas memories from my childhood so it’s not that Christmas has ever been a bad thing for me.

However, Christmas has become too commercialized.  It’s too much about shopping malls and presents and enormous amounts of money being spent on kids, friends, and family who don’t really need stuff.  While Christmas for young kids is great, it doesn’t look too appealing when these little kids grow up to be self-centered and always focused on what they have or don’t have.  Now I know all kids aren’t like that but it is just that spirit and the culture Christmas can create that I don’t like.  It’s just my anti-materialistic nature and much of that has been shaped by my travels and how little we really need to be happy.

I might be in the minority here but Christmas is still about Jesus.  I know that religion is taboo for many people but it is about celebrating a birthday and the love and kindness of a man who changed the world (even if you don’t like religion or Christianity, you can’t dispute his impact).  From a spiritual and religious perspective, it saddens me that Christmas is so incredibly huge and Easter is downplayed in our culture.  I guess remembering death is not nearly as fun as remembering birthdays but it’s the culture of the Christmas holiday that makes so many of the important things – like love, family, giving, and humanity – forgotten.

I don’t claim to be some altruistic, moralistic do-gooder who wants to rain on everyone’s Christmas parade.  However, I do want to be different.  Very different.   I want the lives of my kids to be different.  Travel has taught me a lot of things.  It’s opened my eyes to the world around me.  Even for someone as self-centered as I am, I don’t want to be like so much of the world I see around me.  So here is a list of a few ideas I came up with for Christmas a few years ago:

  • Have a birthday cake at Christmas to remember why we celebrate – it’s Jesus, not the gifts
  • Adopt a project, child, or person at Christmas so my kids can spend time buying a gift for someone who really needs it
  • Have my sons pick a member of the family for which they are responsible for the gift – without spending money
  • Use the holidays to serve – whether it be a food bank, shelter, or community service project.  Show them that there are people in need and that we need to love and give back to others
  • As parent, be an example to them by showing my kids what it means to love, sacrifice, and give to others at Christmas and all other times of the year

Behind Scrooge, there really are some decent motivations for why I feel the way I do.  Let me be honest here – I can be a bit self-centered and some of these ideas make me very uncomfortable.  However, I want to be challenged to do these things so I can be an example.  Ideally, I want this type of attitude to exist all year long and not just during the holidays.  Twenty years from now I want to be proud of what my sons have become.  And for this Scrooge, that starts with me and how I live.

It’s a very high standard that I have set for myself.  During the holidays, I slip into Scrooge mode because I want to look ahead to the bigger picture and not get caught up in the culture that teaches us we need to be happy and get everything we want right now.  I don’t want a Christmas that is all about ‘me.’  I fear this holiday culture may lead to every day becoming like Christmas – a search for fulfillment through our insatiable desire for things.

I’m really not a Scrooge.  I sometimes play one during Christmas to achieve a greater good.  I want to live my life by this motto – To live my life in such a way, that my kids become better human beings than me.  I want Christmas to be fun but I want it to be celebrated for the right reasons.

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  1. December 16, 2010 4:21 am

    You know I’m going to love this post Jeremy! I agree with everything you said.
    And even though I am not religious, I totally respect that Christmas is meant to be about Jesus, which is why I get so upset with no one focusing on this. I feel like it is such a sham of a holiday. I think I could accept Christmas and celebrate it more if people did the ideas you outlined here- it would make more sense.
    I was brought up in a Catholic home, went to Catholic school and even Catholic college. I remember somewhere in here, I learned that Easter is so much more important, because that is when the big “sacrifice” was made. I said to my teacher, “so,why does Christmas have such a bigger celebration?” Her answer and those since have never satisfied me.
    I think Christmas is such an all-about-me culture and that is instilled from us way back when Santa delivered us all we wanted in our sacks. And so many people forget about growing up and realizing life is not all about you.
    I love how you mention the idea of instant gratification and the need to be happy. We recently had to ask someone in our family to cut back on the spoiling of our child, as we noticed a considerable change in her behaviour. “But, I just want to make her happy,” was her reply. I cannot even begin to tell you how my heart sank when I heard this. Are my cuddles, kisses, endless praise and total love not enough? Since when was this the answer to happiness and where does this belief start?
    I don’t want my child to ever have to rely on materialistic things to be the source of her happiness, and that is why I wonder if this is what Santa is doing.
    I think your ideas outlined here are brilliant, as they focus on kindness, selflessness, and giving and that is where you find happiness. And this is what Jesus was about. And so I think we have lost our way and the Christmas Spirit. And its why I will always be the Grinch. Because until it can get back to a place where it makes sense, and follows the message of its true origination, I am always going to want to steal it away.

  2. December 16, 2010 9:22 am

    Wow, thats a deep post haha Its and interesting read though and I definately agree with what you’re saying

  3. December 17, 2010 12:16 am

    You know what?? The birthday cake at Christmas is a splendid idea.

    • December 17, 2010 9:42 am

      Thanks Inka! I came up with these ideas a few months before my first son was born. I wanted things to be different and to teach him about life and people that lets him look beyond himself. I have lots of other ideas not related to Christmas. I just hope i stick to these as my kids get older!

  4. December 17, 2010 10:41 am

    I’m not religious at all but I share your concerns about it being too commercial. My family and I have cut back on the presents and money year after year and are trying to get back to the ‘family’ part of it. It’s so much more enjoyable and no one is broke after the holidays.

    • December 17, 2010 12:04 pm

      It might be an uphill battle to fight the commercialism of Christmas but I think it’s to everyone’s benefit (retailers excluded) if we try.

  5. December 17, 2010 2:11 pm

    It doesn’t sound like you’re a Scrooge if you want to celebrate Christmas by giving back to the community. It’s true that Christmas is all about presents and shopping… it can become a chore, instead of a holiday to celebrate.

  6. December 23, 2010 2:48 am

    I like your passion for traveling Sir..Hats off to you..And also Merry Christmas…Your blog is great, i like it..

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