“Next to a circus, there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out any quicker than the Christmas spirit”*

I’m grateful to have helped coordinate The Dymond-Studded Menagerie of Oddities — a circus arts-based show that brings in a wealth of local talent from the St. John’s-Metro area. I’m equally grateful that this show has given me the opportunity to return to something I’ve loved, studied, and worked at over a span of fifteen years: acting.

(Full disclosure: I donated space on my web server for the show’s info page. Am I biased? You’d better believe it.)

The reaction to the Oddities show has been fantastic and artists and potential audience members alike have expressed enthusiasm for the concept. It all boils down to this: it’s going to be a load of fun.

It’s also being staged on December 8th.

Over the years, I’ve found that when you produce a show in December and it isn’t about Christmas, you inevitably get a few well-meaning inquires about why it isn’t holiday-themed. I thought I’d touch on that reaction for a moment, because it’s easy to get so enthralled by your own joy that you forget why others mightn’t share your celestial enthusiasm.

There’s a plethora of reasons why people might not like the Christmas season. I can’t possibly assert to know them all (no one can), but I’m going to at least make an attempt at some examples. Note that I’ve only drawn from experiences I’ve heard from others — I’m not professing to be a psychologist or anything similar.

Okay, here we go.
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Why People Might Not Celebrate and/or Enjoy Christmas:
A Very Partial List

♦ Because they have strained family situations or have severed ties with a toxic family.

♦ Because they’re worried about coming out to their family and/or having to defend their life choices.

♦ Because they can’t afford the trip home this year and would rather just avoid Christmas altogether.

♦ Because a loved one passed away during the holiday season and they’re not ready to disassociate their grief with that time of year.

♦ Because they practice a faith that doesn’t acknowledge Christmas and/or it is against their beliefs.

♦ Because Christmas means choosing between seeing their family and facing their molester, or not seeing their family at all. (Not everyone is in a situation where they can report or speak out.)

♦ Because Christmas is a time when a loved one’s addiction was at its worst and those emotions (and memories) remain attached to the season.

♦ Because they grew up not celebrating Christmas and aren’t interested in starting to do so. (This might be due to cultural background, family preference, or an array of other reasons.)

♦ Because they feel overwhelmed by the anxieties the season inevitably brings.

♦ Because life is just damn complicated.

♦ Because everyone has their own personal preferences.
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Yes, I know for some of these examples mentioned above, someone can surely say, ‘Well, I know so-and-so in such-and-such situation and they LOVE Christmas!’ That’s perfectly fine — not everyone reacts in the same way and I’m not suggesting they should — but don’t assume that every single person gets excited about Christmas.

As far as the arts go, I personally feel it’s important to keep all this in mind when staging shows during December. Sure, plenty of people flock to see holiday-themed productions (which is great!), but I think it’s vital that we be mindful of the people we disclude (and there are more of them than you might think). Not everything has to be about Christmas in December. We have to unlearn that habit and be more inclusive during a season that, for many, is a very difficult and often downright awful time of year.

We have to be more considerate of other people’s pain and suffering.

So here’s a gentle reminder to not ambush everyone with festive cheer this holiday season — I’ve been guilty of it myself, so I’m not preaching from a tinsel-decorated soapbox here. I’ve no doubt people have the best intentions (I know I did), but take a moment to consider that whilst your heart might be in the right place, it doesn’t help to force it. Understandably, it’s hard to imagine why someone might not be into a thing that brings you so much merriment, but that’s just the way it is. In fact, we all need to be more mindful of that beyond the Christmas season.

If people you know distance themselves from all things Christmas, respect that. They’re not asking you to stop celebrating or to abandon your beliefs, they just want you to understand that they don’t have feel the same way you do.

Do whatever makes you happy, but be sure to let others do the same.

*Title quotation by Kin Hubbard

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