Seasonal

In Defense of a Non-Traditional Christmas Meal


It's Christmas 2014. I awake, groggy and blurry eyed to the sound of my least favorite Christmas music (meaning any of it) blaring from the family room. My sister, who is not disaffected before her time (as I very much am), is waking me up on Christmas. I was hoping to sleep through it. Maybe just go straight to Boxing Day. It's a big deal in Canada, I've been told. 

I shoo her away, and rise from bed to open gifts — many of which will be sent from relatives who still can't manage to spell my name correctly. Look, there goes an "Aaron." Ah, an "Arron." Here's a new one: "Aren." There's an "Aron." "Aaren?" Sure, why not. It's pretty close, I guess. 

As I make my way through the day, Christmas music continues. A ham continues to bake. I don't really get it. Why don't we just do Chanukah? At least genealogically speaking, my family is mostly Jewish. Plus, Chanukah has latkes, more days of gifts, and perhaps most importantly, it is not accompanied by the endless cycle of Christmas standards and Gregorian chants pervading the house. 

Finally, it is time to eat. So, I do what any normal, self-respecting holiday participant would do: Put on some pants, grab the keys to my orange hatchback, and head to my neighborhood Filiberto's. I order a burrito El Rey — a massive, seeping thing filled with carne asada and bacon and ham and pico de gallo and a variety of other items I can't or don't want to identify. I eat it all. I feel good.

Or is that not what's normal? Do most people stay home, and eat a ham or turkey or something else that can be easily confused for Thanksgiving leftovers? Huh, I'd never noticed. 

Except, I clearly have. People mention it to me all the time. I'm not all that spirited. And it's not just that I'm an asshole. You see, my birthday falls on Christmas Eve. I am among the illustrious few, including One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and the current president of Azerbaijan, who must share space with the birthday celebrations of some other guy. Plus, I'm not particularly religious (not that Christmas has many particularly religious connotations anyway — it began as a pagan holiday and turned into an exercise in consumerism), and if I were I suppose I'd be Jewish. So, if I hear another person give me shit for not having "Christmas spirit," I will have some choice words for them. 

I actually quite like my birthday itself, when it gets celebrated. It has a lot more meaning to me than Christmas. But, it's easily forgotten and replaced in the minds of many of my friends and loved ones by Christmas. I don't blame them for that, but from a personal standpoint, it's not really a great birthday to have. 

So, by the time Christmas rolls around, it doesn't have much significance to me. I probably celebrated a decent deal the day before and feel a little burnt out, or if I didn't celebrate my birthday, I don't particularly feel like celebrating the reason why. So as a post-birthday, post-Santa Clausal belief young person with a taste for irony and international food, I don't usually feel motivated to follow the traditional Christmas route. 

So, here's the deal. Can we all agree to let each other live their respective lives unperturbed by arbitrary custom? I don't want anyone to enjoy their Christmas less, just because they're worried about me not being into it. I probably never will. I still spend time with my family and appreciate every minute of it, as well as all the free stuff. But, it doesn't feel fair to me that I should have to have the same experience as everyone else. Holidays are an ultimately human experience, and part of that experience is diversity. Our red-and-green, corporatized Christmas carol chaos should not have to be everyone's December 25th. 

And you know what? I will not apologize. Last year, I went to Filiberto's. Tomorrow, I'm thinking...Julioberto's, maybe? 
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Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona journalist whose reporting interests include urbanism, business, real estate and dining.