Why so humbug? The reasons why some may dislike Christmas (and what you should – and shouldn’t – do about it)

Posted on Apr 21, 2020 Tags: ,

A strange topic for the Christmas Lover’s Club, but, the fact is (*glances around, lowers voice*) some people don’t like Christmas. There. I’ve said it.

If you’re a Christmas Lover, being faced with an affirmed Humbug can be a disconcerting experience. After all, what’s not to love about Christmas?

Well, depending on your personal context, quite a lot, actually.

Here are just some of the reasons why people may not like Christmas, coupled with ways in which you can deal with their dislike.

They’ve worked in retail.

Retail is a hellish place to be over the festive season. Retail workers get all the worst things about Christmas full in the face for months on end. And it’s not pleasant. The Christmas season starts for retail workers at the end of August and tends to go on until February (if you count the January sales. Which you do). That’s more than enough Christmas for anyone, even if you don’t factor in the pressure from stressed managers, stressed customers and stressed colleagues.

Long hours, gruelling work, low pay, the same darn Christmas tunes on repeat day in, day out…and then there’s the customers, who are often irritable amid the bustle and queues of Christmas shopping. Sadly, Christmas is not a season of goodwill towards retail workers.

In summary, working Christmas in a shop is enough to put anyone off Christmas for life. And it frequently does. If your friend has worked (or is still working) in retail, chances are that the sight of tinsel or the sound of Christmas tunes will take them right back to the shop floor with a shudder.

  • What can you do about it? Trying to jolly a disenchanted retail worker into the Christmas spirit is unlikely to work. In fact, you’ll probably make things worse. The best thing you can do is be kind and not expect too much from them. Let them do Christmas at their own pace, and don’t take it personally if they don’t want to join in.


It’s too much pressure.

Christmas can be really, really stressful. For one reason or another many people falter under the pressure of the season. Perhaps they’re worried that their Christmas hosting won’t be good enough. Perhaps they’re struggling to get everything done in time. Perhaps they’re concerned about keeping the peace between warring family members. Perhaps they can’t find the right present for a loved one. Or pehaps they just find the whole thing a bit overwhelming. Whatever the reason, few people escape Christmas without at least a bit of stress. And, for some, that stress can ruin what should be an enjoyable time of year.

  • What can you do about it? Offering to help would be a good start. Perhaps you can nip round the supermarket for them, or peel some veg, or clean the house, or nominate yourself to keep an eye on more volatile guests… If they don’t want any help (and many people find having to organise someone else more stressful than just doing the task themselves), why not offer a listening ear? Venting to a good listener can be a powerful stress-reliever. And, if it’s perfectionism that’s piling on the pressure, remind them that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.


It reminds them of what’s missing

Christmas isn’t just for food and presents. It’s also a time of reflection. For some people, that can be hard. Those who have lost loved ones will feel their absence particularly sharply around Christmas. And the inescapable imagery on Christmas cards, adverts and the like featuring cosy, happy families gathered around the Christmas tree can make loss, loneliness, and family dysfunction really sting.

  • What can you do about it? Grief, loss, and loneliness aren’t things which can be ‘fixed’. And they manifest in different ways for everyone. Sometimes, a suffering person will really appreciate an invitation to join in the fun and be drawn out of their inner world. Others may want to be left alone. Still others may want the former one moment and the latter the next. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. The best thing that you can do is to offer your love and support and leave the rest up to them. Let them know they can reach out to you at any time, but don’t pressure them.


They just don’t like it

It would be a really boring world if we all liked the same things. Some people simply don’t like Christmas. It’s just not their thing. And that’s ok.

  • What can you do about it? Nothing! Leave them to it! So long as they’re not harming your festive fun, let them enjoy the season in their own way. Which may well be to batten down the hatches and pretend it’s not happening. If you really want to celebrate something with them, ask them about a festival or occasion that they do like. Maybe they love the New Year, or always have a great time on their birthday. Just because you can’t celebrate with them at Christmas doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate with them at all.

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