Father Christmas with presents
What if there were no Christmas?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is my 13th Christmas in England and I still find the pre-Christmas panic a bit OTT. Looking at my social media feeds, it seems that I am not the only one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Christmas but I don’t love it either. I can take it or leave it (as long as I get presents).

Here’s my reason why I am not too hung up on Christmas.

“I grew up in a communist country where Christmas and other religious celebrations were not allowed.”

As far as I remember, any celebrations on the Christian calendar were either altogether banned or had a Communist spin put on them.

People weren’t free to openly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. They weren’t even allowed to believe that there was Jesus Christ. Anyone who thought otherwise, was prosecuted.

My childhood memories of Christmas are associated with the winter school break we used to get. It wasn’t as long as the summer break but there was plenty of snow which made up for it. That’s probably the reason why, to me, Christmas means snow more than anything else.

Although we never celebrated Christmas, we had a “special meal” which consisted of pork, potatoes, cabbage and whatever pickles there were in the cellar. Dessert was homemade cakes and various cookies which I didn’t like because they had lard in them. Yes, it tasted as basic (for the lack of a better word) as it sounds.

Most of it was homegrown produce because there was hardly anything in the shops. Even if there was, it was often rationed and you had to queue up for ages to buy it (think Apple store queues on new iPhone sale days).

“We didn’t get any presents for Christmas. Not a thing!”

The present-giving happened on New Year’s Eve instead. When I say presents, I mean board games with missing instructions and/or parts. Sometimes the boxes were damaged too.

Christmas present
There weren’t any shiny Christmas presents

There was nothing shiny and of any value but we did enjoy them quite a lot. Even if we did have to improvise with homemade game parts and make up the rules ourselves. The fun was in working out how to play the game.

We also used to get a variety of knitted “clothes” from my grandmother. Not just the seasonal wooly jumper, hat and scarf kit but cardigans, body warmers, gloves and mittens. She even used to knit trousers when we were younger. Thankfully we never wore them in public (I wonder why lol). No disrespect to my grandmother but her “line” was really hideous and never took off.

We did have a Christmas tree which, again, was for New Year’s Eve. We always had a real tree and we used to decorate it much the same as today. Except for the lights. There weren’t any lights. We had candles dotted all over the tree instead. It’s a miracle it never caught fire as we used to light it in the evenings.

“It’s no wonder that I find today’s Christmas “experience” a bit OTT.”

I went from not having it at all to having everything and anything I want. Not just for Christmas but every day (if I wanted to). Nothing seems special anymore and everything has a sell by date.

Although modified beyond recognition, all that’s left for my Christmas is that “special meal” shared with the loved ones. That’s what my Christmas is all about.

[quote_box_center]Nothing else is important. Even the Christmas presents are not special anymore, because we can return them and get the presents that we really wanted.[/quote_box_center]


  1. Your Christmas Story is touching. We need reminding that life in other countries even today is not as good as most of us experience in the UK. It must have been awful living under Communism but it did teach you to make the best of what you had and I’m sure that will be reflected in you for the rest of your life. It does ring a bell with me too as I was born during World War II and during the war and after it for several years we certainly had to ‘make do’ as, at that time, my mother did not work and my father had a labouring job which did not bring in much money. But, like you, we survived and were happy and had that spirit to take us through life. Thank you for your thoughtful and well written article.

    Interesting website!


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