Half of Americans would rather skip Christmas

Count me in on that number.

Like others, I’m glad to have a day off from work and have a special meal, but the rest is just too much. We have a Christmas decoration box down in the storage area and it’s the size of a shoe box. It makes its way out once every three or four years, but that’s about it — unlike some AMERICAblog editors, who shall remain unnamed, and who have a penchant for putting 8-feet-tall Grinches on their balconies alongside 4-feet-tall Santas hanging precariously from their railing:

John got this little Santa while traveling with us in Normandy a few years back. Practically every house up there has this guy hanging from its gutter, to give the appearance that Santa is on his way in.

The Grinch is eight feet tall, inflatable, and has yet to make an appearance in John’s new condo (this is him at the old apartment), lest the condo board get a bit testy.  And there’s cat-burglar Santa on the right.

What has been enjoyable in the past is doing an easy meal with friends and then maybe taking a walk around town. We rarely buy each other gifts for holidays, though we will take advantage of the post-holiday sales to stock up on needed items. Other than that, we don’t care about the holiday or do much different. Not having kids, and not believing in religion, no doubt contributes to our indifference.

So what about AMERICAblog readers?

Celebrate or would you prefer to skip Christmas?

christmas shopping

Christmas Shopping via Shutterstock

Think Finance, a provider of payday loans and other financial services for consumers with limited or no access to banking services, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans across all income levels who use various forms of alternative financial services — including payday loans, prepaid debit cards and direct deposit advances.Although many of these consumers are on better financial footing and optimistic about their economic future this year, the holidays are still a source of stress and strain on their precarious finances, Think Finance said in the poll.

Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.

And here’s a great photo that AMERICAblog reader Bob Horowitz sent in yesterday, one of his own, that perfectly exemplifies the problem of the season:

Bob Horowitz

Photo by AMERICAblog reader Bob Horowitz.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • A reader in Colorado

    It’s not about being “compelled to stay away from it”. It’s that I prefer to be not hounded about it. I don’t believe in or care about either Christmas or gift giving and the harassment by people who seem to need to FORCE people is nasty.

    And I’m not going to say Santa exists and drink eggnog for “holiday cheer” for people who think that I’m flawed because I’m not a Christian.

    For me it’s not a holiday at all. I simply don’t give a rat’s potootie whether other atheists or agnostics celebrate it.

  • rmthunter

    I don’t really want much — I’m sort of the Anti-Consumer — and in fact, I periodically get crazed about having too much stuff. If I want it, I probably already have it. I don’t need another one.

  • rmthunter

    It’s actually considered a secular holiday under the law in the States. I’m not so sure about that — it’s actually become the feast day of the Retail God.

    It actually was a Christian holiday — it’s just that the early Church, as part of its marketing campaign, moved the date to coincide with Pagan festivals, and then the Christians appropriated gift-giving, Christmas trees, caroling, etc., etc.

    As for the “War on Christmas” — everybody has a solstice festival. Get over it.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    That’s a fascinating post, and I can relate to it in that I can remember the transition of Black Friday from a nothing day to this Big Thing, and so much of it has to do with media coverage.

    Black Friday bewilders me. I actually went this year, just to see it with my own two eyes, but I didn’t buy anything and quickly retreated.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    Your first sentence is spot on. I can’t count the number of times people have bought me things that I wish I could immediately give right back, and sometimes I’ve actually done that. The fact is there are very few things in this world that I want or could use, and of those things, most would be far too expensive for anyone else to buy, or so cheap that I could easily afford it if it became a pressing need.

    All that said, i would certainly accept a banana bread and would actually be pretty pumped about something like that! Yum!

    ROFL.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    Secret Santas are one of my favorite things for big families. I have close to 30 first cousins (not even kidding!) and there’s no way I could get everyone something. Some years we’ve done a Secret Santa and it always works out real well. It’s almost at the point where I’d want to do a Secret-Santa type thing for my cousins’ kids. There’s almost 10 of them now!

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    I’m not a practicing Christian anymore and consider myself agnostic, but I don’t find the holiday particularly Christian, and plenty of other cultures around the world have taken it up as a non-religious holiday.

    It was never even a Christian holiday to begin with; it has its roots in pagan traditions and goodness knows where else. All of that is a way of saying that I don’t think atheists or agnostics should feel as though they have to lock themselves away from holiday cheer. You can drink eggnog and pretend Santa exists for all the kids for a couple days and not feel guilty about it.

    You don’t *have* to do any of that, of course, but there’s nothing about being an atheist or agnostic that should make you feel compelled to stay away from it.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    It’s “poor planning” if people can’t afford Christmas?

    Get real. The holidays can be immensely expensive, and millions of people simply don’t have the money, no matter how well they plan things.

    Even if they have “comfortable income” it’s not always so easy to spend big money on Christmas, and there shouldn’t be an expectation that all people do it. We are citizens, not consumers. A nice meal and a little festivity should be enough, if people feel inclined at all.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    Parents would be wise to somewhat limit what they get their kids on Christmas, even when times are good, so that unrealistic expectations won’t exist when they aren’t (and so you don’t raise a snotty brat).

    When I was a kid, my single mother always got me one nice thing (or a couple small ones) on Christmas and far from wanting ever more, I appreciated what I did get all the more.

    I never really felt ‘left out’ as a kid, because I was still able to have some of the nice things other people had, but I always had to put a lot of thought into what I asked for, and I always tried to take care of things I could use year after year (vigilantly keeping my bike in the basement when I wasn’t using it, so it wouldn’t be stolen, etc.).

    As an adult, my immediate family has often ‘cancelled’ Christmas — as a gift-giving holiday, at least — if one or more of us simply didn’t or doesn’t have the money or time. We were all hit pretty hard by the recession and are still very much in recovery mode. Some of us are even a little worse off now than we were at the beginning of the recession, as to be expected in the anecdotes that are called our individual lives.

    I did buy my mother a very modest gift this year and asked her to please not get anything for me. I don’t think I’m going to be buying anyone else any gifts, and don’t expect to be given any,either. I’d honestly be a little ticked if they did. I have little want for anything, anyway.

  • A reader in Colorado

    I don’t celebrate Christmas, and have been subjected to year long feuds and ridiculous loads of crap from family because of it. Every year I get the guilt, the browbeating, the guilt tripping, and the nastiness because all the gifts and the nonsense is something I refuse.

    If this is what “Christians” are, they ought to be ashamed. And they are the ones who claim to be persecuted. Ludicrous.

    Christians need to leave people in peace.

  • Krusher

    Nobody asked me, but I agree with the 45%. I’ve tried to tone it down to everybody just giving one gift to each other, but my brother and sister will have none of it. My son and daughter in law are just fine with it, but the sibs are the sticking point.

  • rmthunter

    There’s an easy answer — don’t try to shower everyone you know with things they don’t want and can’t use.

    I like the feel of the season, and in my family, we keep the gift-giving pretty minimal — immediate family only, mostly books or DVDs, although my sister sends out banana bread, which is excellent. I’m more likely to make donations to food drives than worry about what to get for some cousin that I haven’t seen for a year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerry.dupas Jerry Dupas

    I remember when the ongoing commercialization of Christmas hit it’s stride. It was the day the nightly news began reporting the day-to-day retail sales figures leading up to Christmas Day. It was further fueled by the extension of personal credit in the 60’s-70’s. Parents routinely lamented that it took 3 or four months, if they were lucky, to “pay-off” their Christmas bills. It was someplace in the 80’s that the competition among parents began as to what they gifted their children. It was about the same time the advertisers started exploiting the fact that more and more purchases were being driven by the young.
    It has evolved to the point that commercials imply you won’t have sex with your spouse/girlfriend unless there is jewelry involved and your children will reject any gift short of what they “need” to compete with their friends.
    The answer is simple…..”Quit buying what they are selling”

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Same here because it was my Dad’s favorite and he always made it wonderful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Bosse/608235497 Joe Bosse

    I haven’t personally celebrated christmas for over 30 years, but I don’t begrudge anyone their fun. I stopped watching tv well over 15 years ago, and while I still find show’s to watch (I’ll never get over Dr. Who and I’m enjoying The Walking Dead (via charters streaming service). What really bothers me is the in store Muzak and every freaking radio station everywhere.
    I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments too, from every direction. As to the decorations thing, I just dragged out twelve 30 gallon plastic totes full of lights and xmas stuff for my mother, and lets not even discuss the 5 foot santa and snowman that are already on her lawn by the 6 lighted deer attached to a sleigh.
    None of my clients has yet asked me to hang anything, but it’s just a matter of time.
    I’ll do it too. I just wish the music would stop.

  • Jon

    I’m fairly religious and not at all into over-the-top decorating or gift-gifting. I celebrate the holiday as it ought to be celebrated, in church at midnight Mass. Consumers are totally at the wheel with this one – it’s up to them to keep this commercialistic holiday season going (or not).

  • 2L82Pray

    On top of all the other reasons already listed here (so valid, thank you), The Other reason I hate Christmas: Every freaking year somebody has to make a big drama fest about saying “Merry Christmas” or about someone putting up a tree or a nativity scene or the school ‘x-mas play or…. Look, if you don’t like it, DON’T PARTICIPATE! It’s that simple. If you want to say Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays or even God-Doesn’t-Exist-Enjoy-Your-Commercialized-Feast-Day-of-Ignorance, Say That. If you don’t like children singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer….then just don’t put your kids in a school that does that. It’s sooo simple, people. Do your own thing, but LEAVE OTHERS TO DO THEIR OWN THING UNMOLESTED BY YOUR JUDGMENT AND SUPERIOR ATTITUDE. I would never work for a Catholic Church owned business, but you don’t see me downtown protesting and filing law suits. To each their own. Let it go already.

  • cjfb

    Count me in with the “hate it” gang. My mother hated Christmas because of the amount of work that she was expected to do. My father never gave her enough money to cover gifts for our huge family so shopping was stressful. On Christmas Day he would hand out envelopes (plain business envelopes that he brought home from the office) with money – the amount depending on the age of the recipient. All the while my mother was slaving away in the kitchen. My sisters and sister in laws would help but it still was a stressful and exhausting time for her. My small family has never done that to me but still I recoil from all the hype and materialism.
    My grandchildren arrive the day after Christmas and don’t even notice the lack of decorations. I give them each a big box of the things I have been collecting for them throughout the year, often unique items that I picked up while traveling. No Christmas shopping for me!

  • Jim Olson

    There is a difference between Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity that those of us who are practising Christians celebrate as part of the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany liturgical cycle, and Xmas, the orgy of capitalism and commerce that is inflicted upon us this time of year. I celebrate one, but not the other.

    http://yankeeoxford.blogspot.com/2012/11/youre-mean-one-mr-grinch.html

  • NotHardly

    It has become so commercialized and not even very cute commercials, I don’t hate it, I just avoid it. We give gifts to a few people, lots of homemade stuff. We save up if there is something we are going to need… washer or dryer, microwave, and other such “happy” necessary things. Other than that, its just nonsense. I like what one of the other posters said… if it is about their religious holiday, then going to ones place of worship sounds more fitting for those who espouse such rather than multiple camp out trips to WalMart or any other big box place. Unfortunately, most of that frequently sounds like much more noise then putting one’s money where one’s mouth is… yes, kinda a pun.

  • OtterQueen

    I love to decorate the whole house at Christmas time. I’ve collected some really beautiful ornaments over the years, some inherited from my great aunt and other relatives. So they’re not only gorgeous antiques, they all have stories and family history attached to them. No kids and no pets makes it possible to decorate the house with even my most precious Christmas doodads. We just enjoy drinking Tom & Jerrys (Jerries?), admiring the pretties, and snuggling in front of a fire. Not really into gifts, although I usually bake up some stuff for the neighbors. Oh, and I love to send and receive Christmas cards! I especially like getting the “newsletter” type in which my friends tell everyone what they did all year. Luckily, I know some clever people with exciting lives who know how to write. How did I get so lucky?

  • Constant Comment

    I HATE this time of year, primarily due to the financial pressures and the fact that it lasts two freaking months. I love my family and love spending time with them, but I just try to ignore the season except for Christmas Eve. The “kids” in the family are all adults, so we’re all on the same page. If there ever were truly a “War on Christmas,” I’d be the first to volunteer…

  • perljammer

    Chris, your headline is misleading. Not “Half of Americans”. Half of Americans who use “alternative financial services”. In other words, half of Americans who have crappy credit and haven’t planned in advance for expenditures they know are coming, whether due to circumstances beyond their control or just plain poor planning. The snippet says, “… Americans across all income levels …”, so I have to assume that some portion of them have painted themselves into financial corners despite being comfortable above average income.

  • Naja pallida

    I’m skipping it this year. Christmas day I’ll be here complaining that nobody is here posting political rants. :)

  • penpal

    I like Christmas as an opportunity to get together with friends and family and to do some holiday decorating around my house. I also like the festive drinks and foods. But no presents. I don’t give them, I don’t want them. The American obsession with shopping for stuff they don’t even need is repellent any time of the year, but intolerable after Thanksgiving. I stay out of it completely and am happier because of it. Gifts and religion are banished from an otherwise fun time.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Me too. Christmas is big for me.

  • LanceThruster

    Xmas should be much like Halloween (i.e. participation is completely voluntary and at whatever level you choose – including none). I have long ago jettisoned the more anxiety producing elements of the holiday and now just enjoy the breaking of bread and the light displays.
    Hail Satan!

  • K_L_Carten

    For me and my husband it’s hit or miss, we try to give something for his mom, she does so much for us. This year, my husband bought me a KitchenAid stand mixer, he waited a month and couldn’t stand it. He gave it to me while I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner. So, it looks like this year we are giving gifts, lol, before we paid off the car and didn’t have the extra money we didn’t exchange store bought gifts. I don’t like going in debt just for Christmas, seems silly to me. If we had kids maybe it would be different, but we don’t. For me growing up in Ill. Christmas was snow on the ground, cold weather, and my parents where really into Christmas. Since they moved us to Tn, it just wasn’t the same for me. When it finally gets cold it’s Jan. and that’s when I want to put up a tree and do lots of baking, so for me it just don’t feel like Christmas when it’s in the 60’s. The few years it was cold in Dec, we had decorations inside and out, otherwise, I am like the Grinch until Jan.

    When we get together for the family Christmas thing, everyone gets together we eat, do what my mom calls a crazy Christmas exchange and have a $15 limit on gifts. I rather have a nice meal and my family together. I love the stand mixer, been wanting one for years, even when we did have the money, I just couldn’t spend that much on myself. I bake a lot of bread so I wanted the professional series, so he basically bought it more than half off, the same sale price of the Artisan. I like the stand mixer but I cherish the recipe box he made by hand for me last year more. Cheesy I know, but it’s true, he took the time to choose which tree he would get the wood from and did everything by hand. Spent every spare time he had out in his shop and surprised me with it on Christmas eve.

  • Indigo

    It is possible to skip Christmas. Just skip it. If you think of Christmas as a religious observance, go to church and let the rest of it go. It is that easy. Don’t ask permission from S.o.c.i.e.t.y. Just do it!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    We put up decorations or not as the mood strikes us. Three Christmases ago, we got a tree and enjoyed it. Last year we didn’t bother and this year we won’t because we’re in the middle of packing to move.

    Thing is, neither my wife nor I identify as ‘mainstream Christian’ anymore and so our preferred holiday is Yule — the Winter Solstice — which happens to be our wedding anniversary. That’s when we exchange our gifts. Which most often end up being some trifle we each pick for the other as the ‘secret’ present (never anything expensive) and one more serious ‘toy’ which we pick for ourselves and pretend like it was a present from the other. Last year, my wife gave me a Kindle Fire, for instance.

    But as for the rest of it? More bother than its worth, especially since in my line of business, I have work or I don’t and my clients don’t care how the holidays affect me or my family, they just want their projects done on time. Which, as often as not means I may be working on Christmas day itself. (Although probably not this year, thank Cthulhu and the FSM…)

  • tsuki

    Rupert Roo, WhatAilesAmerica, and Bill O’Reilly ruined Christmas for me. It went from a magically Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward All to a Yang-A-Thon. They can have Christmas, and their Bloody War. I’m out.

  • Naja pallida

    One particular thing that irks me more than it probably should is when they redo the lyrics on traditional songs to fit some cheesy, lame-ass advertising campaign. Yes, I’m sure Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was written with the intention of you abusing it to hawk used Toyotas. Thanks.

  • Butch

    We put up some decorations and invite a few friends over, but we stopped giving presents years ago. Extended family is just too big and there’s nothing anyone in the immediate family needs or really even wants (that we could afford to give); for us, we’d rather put the money toward a vacation.

  • Dick Sullivan

    Let’s also make Easter a Monday holiday.

  • Dick Sullivan

    Make it every 4 years like the Olympics, then it would be meaningful. When they start Xmas selling in August, it’s a half year every year sell a bration.

  • confusion

    I hate Christmas…I love Christmas

  • caphillprof

    I love Christmas. Always have, always will. It’s friends, family, garden club and community and lots and lots of traditions.

  • Suemarie

    I kind of love Christmas. We cut a tree from the grandparents’ land. Play some music. Make a lot of good food. Deliver baskets for a local group that helps people with HIV/AIDS. We used to attend midnight mass, but I am so over the catholic church that I just can’t do it. Bake a ton of cookies and donate half of them. Buy a pile of gifts (not on credit). Office parties. I even like taking at least one trip to the biggest mall in America when it’s all decked out.

  • perljammer

    So, 45% of folks who use “alternative financial services” get stressed over the cost of Christmas? The other 55% must be unconscious. Locally, there was a guy camped out in front of Best Buy for 4 days so he could get his flat-screen TV and Xbox. When interviewed, he said he was able to spend the time camped there because he was out of a job. WTF??

    For me, Christmas is about the family. Kids are grown and on their own, but they come home for the holiday. As far as gift-giving goes, we’ve been on a no-borrowing regime (including credit card use) for at least the past 20 years — we don’t go into debt to give gifts, which means that the largesse is tightly coupled to current personal financial condition. Some years it’s pretty crowded under the Christmas tree; other years, not so much.

    Christmas hype doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much as election hype.

  • http://voenixrising.com/ Mark Alexander

    Amen to that. it’s the most HORRIBLE time of the year!

  • http://voenixrising.com/ Mark Alexander

    And christopath heads explode from coast to coast.

  • AdmNaismith

    As an atheist with no kids, I still like Xmas (or The Solstice, as we celebrate it)- decorations, cookies (my Grandma’s Carrot Cookies, esp.), music, presents, and a nice meal.
    Normally I have bit of cash to spend on the holiday for a bit of extravagance, but not this year. Work for the past few weeks has been slack and I just don’t have that extra to spend. This year we will make do with what we have and pull back on the rest.

  • Fifi

    Pretty much like Chris over here. Going light on Christmas.

  • milli2

    The older I get the more I despise this time of year. 24/7 Christmas music on the radio. Every TV commercial, every newspaper ad – all about shopping for this ONE DAY. If the hype started a week or two before the day, and we weren’t expected to give gifts to anyone but our children under the age of 18, then it would be fun. Its nothing but stress as it is now.

  • slappymagoo

    Ironically, the people who are sick of Christmas are usually the people who give the most kick-ass presents.

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