Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
This is a piece of folklore collected from my own experiences. I am a senior at Utah State University studying secondary education-history composite, with a minor in the classics. I am 21 years old. I am the Vice President of the Zombie Aggies Organization (ZAO) which is a campus wide game of tag that happens once a semester. I've never been one for holidays, least of all Christmas; and I never hesitate to express my disdain for the holidays.
In July of 2017 my older sister Sarah Elizabeth Turner passed away, at the age of 26. Family traditions have been hampered immensely, as they are quite emotional for us now. We only ever really celebrated because she wanted to, and we wanted to grant her the right to celebrate holidays with her family. She was consistently in living cares and hospitals for all of her medical conditions that she needed constant care we couldn’t provide to keep her alive and well. She was confined to a wheelchair most of her life, and was in constant pain; the least we could do to help her was allow her to celebrate holidays with her family. I deeply regret expressing my disdain for holidays when she was around, but now find her absence as a source of validation for my hatred for the holidays. In addition I hate Christmas due to the snow, obnoxious repetitive music, over decorating, bright lights, strife from my parents divorce, and now the absence of my sister. We no longer get a tree, put up stockings, or do much of anything for Christmas.
Christmas is, and always has been my least favorite holiday. I have always avidly expressed my disdain openly around the season. I was forced to deal with my own family putting up and decorating a tree, putting up stockings, playing the music, and all else associated with the holidays; again,even at home, I avidly expressed disdain for the holiday. I always receive backlash from others, often with exclamations, statements, or questions like, “WHAT?!?”, “How can you hate Christmas?”, and “You must be celebrating wrong.” It was evidently not ok, according to others, to hate Christmas as avidly as I do. Nobody ever asked for reasons why, just assumed I was a “grinch” or an awful person who hates joy (when I actually really enjoy bringing happiness to others). I have my reasons to hate this holiday: 1. My parents divorce caused holiday tensions, 2. The music is repetitive and obnoxious, 3. We often spend holidays in emergency rooms for one reason or another, 4. We have our infamous religious debates (as my family has quite different religious beliefs that are consistently used by my sister to antagonize the others not of her faith), 5. Bright lights hurt my light sensitive eyes, 6. My bipolar disorder has a massive downswing around the holidays, and 7. My oldest sister Sarah(not the religiously antagonistic one) was the only reason we celebrated the holidays in the usual fashion, and she left this world on July 18, 2017. We now find anywhere that isn’t our house to celebrate Christmas, so we don’t have to deal with the, now haunting, memories of a life we can no longer live. We now celebrate in an altering non-traditional sense. We celebrated in Seattle last year, and plan to be in Europe for the upcoming Christmas. I regret expressing my disdain at home while Sarah was with us to celebrate the holidays, but I now use that as the seventh and biggest reason for hating Christmas. (Not that anyone has ever asked the reasons behind my Christmas hatred.)
This is a story from my own life, and this is a deeply personal one. I am always nostalgic to celebrate Christmas with my sister, despite my hatred for the holiday; just to have another moment I could have enjoyed with her. I admit while writing this I teared up, and had to take breaks (I refused to include in the text section). This is likely going to continue to adapt as we celebrate anniversaries of my sister’s departure; and for each year that goes by we drift further from home, but we will eventually reach a maximum distance we can travel. The other alternative is adapting traditions in a new family setting, as we expand our own, where these memories won’t be as haunting, although they will never be forgotten. Christmas is now a hard time for my family, even those who liked the holiday when Sarah was around. This is too personal a story for me to share outside of writing it, visits with a therapist, and close familial relations. So this story gets spread, at a slower rate; mainly within my family unit.
Introduction to folklore
Prof. Lynne McNeill
Semester and year
G7: Marriage and Family
Turner, Jake, "UnChristmas" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 586.
Additional FilesUnChristmas.docx (8 kB)