a middleSage publication

Tidings of Comfort and Joy…Bullshit

images-4I’ve been very clear about my dislike and withdrawal from the Christmas holidays.  Christmas was just never a happy time during an abusive childhood, and then as a very young mom, I tried to create magic every year only to  be left with a feeling of failure.  I wrote about it in my other blog; onbothsidesnow

A recent poll suggested 45% would rather skip Christmas.  So I am not the lone Scrooge here!  The concept of Christmas is beautiful, but that’s not what we celebrate now.  As a child, I remember nothing….just a feeling of tension and the dread of “oh, no it’s not going to perfect for our mother!”  As a young mother, I drove myself crazy trying to create magic out of thin air and low balances in my checkbook.  As my family started to multiply with children in law and grandchildren, the stress was compounded and I knew I was just one of the many grandmas and relative giving unwanted things to children who were, by the end of the day, too exhausted to even know what had been given to them.

Since my kids are grown with children of their own and we live hundreds of miles from all of them, I decided to “pull out” of Christmas.  Stop the Christmas Bus.  Turn off and take down the Christmas lights….for good.  Thanksgiving is our holiday, and we all agreed we like it much better.  The first year was hard, guilt crept in, anger could easily take over and my will to abandon this now commercial excuse for a holiday weakened.  I held fast though…and came through it without too many scrapes.

I send my kids and grandkids things at a different time throughout the year….when I’m not just adding to a stack of cardboard and paper strewn about.  They seem to notice and appreciate it more.  I don’t ask them to travel to see me, I’d rather have them come in pleasant weather and do things outside we can enjoy.  I don’t put up a tree and I don’t have a mess to keep cleaning up and put away in two weeks.

So now, what else is there?  This is my new family tradition and I must say, it’s not stressful.  I find myself looking forward to Christmas and I’m not paying a charge card bill for 6 months.images-8

Every year, I buy a beautiful beef tenderloin.  My husband and I love a recipe I have for it and since it’s about $100 for a whole tenderloin, it’s not on the weekly rotation for menu suggestions.  I make a few desserts that we both really like and we stock up on some good movies.  We’ll FaceTime with the kids while we’re snuggled up in our warmth with a great glass of wine and enjoy the fact they’re enjoying a different version of “comfort and joy”.

To know the rest of the world is in the midst of “tidings of comfort and joy” and we are stress free and enjoying our time together seems to be a real bonus and truly comforting and joyous to us.  I say bring “THE SPIRIT” of Christmas to your life all year long and enjoy the quiet holidays!


  1. peersncareers

    21 December

    Isn’t that the truth? Enjoying each other’s company. Period. It is about how we treat each other throughout the year and not this one time of year. Great post! Cheers and all the best for the New Year! xxoo T REddy

    • Barbara Joy

      21 December

      It’s good to hear from you! Merry Christmas, friend!

    • Zena

      22 December

      Great! I live in Germany and next year I want to go on holiday at Christmas. People here lock themselves away with their family, shops are shut and they say “see you next year”. It’s so much stress and by the way I am a Christian. I even thought of going onto the streets and feeding the homeless.

  2. […] Please indulge me for not seeing it your way. See my follow up post on middlesage […]

  3. […] Please indulge me for not seeing it your way. See my follow up post on middlesage […]

  4. […] sure if you’re a regular reader here, you know I don’t do Christmas. At least I don’t do it in the way the masses thinks I’m  supposed to.  I find […]

  5. Simon

    6 November

    This is a wonderful comfort to read.
    Congrats on a diligent guide to being non compliant! 🙂

    • Barbara Coleman

      10 November

      Simon, I’m glad I have company here! Thanks for visiting!

  6. Anonymous

    28 December

    I totally agree. People use it as tool to remind us to be nicer. Everyday could be Christmas. Giving your time and and random presents, helping neighbours and visiting relatives should be all year round. It’s really not rocket science. December is now a month of stress, road rage and a quest for a perfect day when most people’s best experiences are spontaneous and unplanned. The over consumption and waste is an embarrassment. I detest being dragged into it and judged because I don’t want the stress. This was my first year of not buying presents. It was hard to receive a couple but I believe the two that did buy me, enjoyed it and would have been hurt if I didn’t accept them. They understand my time for them is my present and I treat when I feel like it. Hope my view doesn’t offend but how many of you would actually like to ditch added stress. We really have the power to stop following the herd. Unless of course you love Christmas and it makes you happy and that’s equally as important too. Just try not to judge either way

    • Julia

      9 December

      Great comments. My sentiments exactly

  7. Nancy

    24 November

    It was almost therapeutic to read both your posts on Christmas! It resignated with me the part about it feeling “lonely” and being so overworked! My husband of 33 years has done NOTHING when it has come to helping me with anything Christmas, and after all these years, I am exhausted and just want to run away until after Christmas! I have threatened for the past few years that I was going to tell everyone that HE would be in charge of everything Christmas for a year, and I would NOT be responsible for ANYTHING. Christmas would have to be cancelled as he wouldn’t know where to start and if it took any effort on his part…it just wouldn’t happen! I am tearing my hair out this year as we begin yet another hectic Christmas season and I am already so stressed and almost in tears. Though I do not ever foresee myself being able to do what you have done, it makes me feel better knowing that I am justified in feeling the way I do and that others understand how I am feeling.


    25 December

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!! Everything you have said, in both articles is me to the tee!!!!! I have decided, finally, to announce to everyone that this will be my last year celebrating Christmas.

  9. Julia

    9 December

    Such a joy reading this post. I am someone who is there for family all year round. Christmas for me signifies stress , road rage, an unrealistic pressure on a single day. I would rather hibernate until it’s over. Why have society allowed this pressure on ourselves. I’m not someone who hates fun. I just don’t want to be told what days I have to celebrate. Makes no sense to me

  10. Helen K

    16 January

    Hi Barbara, I loved your blog. You sound very warm and loving. Everything you say makes sense. Thank you.

    I decided on Dec 26/22, “No more”. I’m a healthy, fairly active 81-yr old, a retired public health nurse. Three very fine grown kids who for legit’ reasons cannot host Chr Eve for us all. Long story.

    There were 9 of us here for a special dinner on Dec 24, plus 2 very little ones. Our step-great grandkids.

    I’m a very good and passionate cook/baker and I enjoy hosting family and friends. YET never again on Christmas Eve or the 25th! Maybe not TG either.

    BTW, in that group of 8 adults and 1 teen, we have 2 who only eat GF, one of those who’s also lactose-intolerant, 2 are Vegetarians, a picky teen, and someone who can’t tolerate egg whites. A 6th one who prefers no cholesterol. Eeeeek.

    Next year, we’ll host a family celebration mid-Dec on a Sunday afternoon. Not a meal. A nice cheese board, gf crackers (which can be pretty good), a variety of wonderful Slovak homemade cookies, and cold and hot drinks. It will be lovely, if not traditional.

    If any of our kids or our one grandchild (a boy, now 15) want to drop by and join us 2 on Chr. Eve, I’ll make a yummy casserole. But I will not do a formal invite nor organize a proper 🙂 Chr Eve dinner. Not interested in ordering in a catered meal. Not my thing. If we are alone, the beef tenderloin sounds great.

    I’ve been hosting 3 or 4 large celebratory family dinners for the past 55 years. Sometimes up to 20 people when I was younger. Stressful and exhausting, no matter how well planned. I’m very organized, and I also prep a lot of food ahead. Yet, there’s that “final crazy hour”. And the later mess.

    Overall, the 6-week period that I call NovCember is nuts. Interesting to me are the magazines in the fall advising us WOMEN on all the ways to make a unique and glorious holiday. Then right away in January, the women’s magazines titles feature “Reduce Stress” or “Simplify your life”. I shake my head and laugh.

    If I want to bake for special people (e.g. hairstylist) I do it in January.

    We (that is, I) buy a very nice gift for our adult kids on their b-days.

    We don’t give gifts to each other. Not for years. If my husband or I want something, we just go and buy it! Including concerts and play tickets or massages. There’s nothing we really need, and at our age, we are trying to downsize our possessions. And I can barely find clothes I like myself, so no way cud my husband do it. Don’t need more jewelry. We do give to charities.

    I decorate a bit with some live boughs (free ones) with a few pretty and sentimental items tucked into them. I always make Christnas breads and really nice cookies and will continue with that.

    Mostly, I don’t send cards, and I either use emails or a phone call. For people who mean something to us.

    We will still host our kids and grandson etc for a meal thru the year, but in groups no bigger than 6 from now on.

    We have a large, unfancy but covered patio. In the summer, I will repeat something I did in 2020, and will invite all of them over and ask them to bring their own picnic lunch. We will provide drinks and I will bake nice desserts for everyone – incl. g-free, lactose-free, and egg white free ones, of course! 🙂 My best dessert recipes include all 3, of course!

    I feel a bit of guilt, but I can handle it.

    We women are each different and I think we need to support and understand each other’s needs. A lot is/has been always expected of us mothers and wives (of all ages) and we internalize those expectations. All the best. Helen.

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