Why I Do The Absolute Bare Minimum For The Holidays

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 
Why I Do The Absolute Bare Minimum For The Holidays
Getty / Scary Mommy

Friends, it’s not that I hate the holidays, it’s just that I don’t particularly care about them one way or another.

I’m not the sentimental sort, and in general, am an extremely low effort, bare minimum human being. If it requires any sort of planning, decorating, special food preparation, special any preparation other than showing up and giving you cash, there’s a 99% chance it will never get done.

If I can wiggle out of a Secret Santa or a white elephant exchange, I’ll do it! (And I’m not afraid to use my children and husband as an excuse to ghost.) Plus, I find most celebrations hokey and trite, and frankly, forced gratitude and good cheer are completely anathema to my preferred brand of sarcasm and snark.

These standards are ridiculous.

Also, I’m tired.

Why does everything involved with being a parent seem to require making a big deal out of stupid, daily shit? I like finding the magic in the day-to-day, but why does that mean more labor for me? (I mean, I suppose it could fall upon my husband — but, I’m really trying to stay within the realm of realism here.)

If I had my druthers, we wouldn’t have put up a tree (ours was still up from last year though, so…), wouldn’t do gifts (in fact, we don’t), wouldn’t put up lights (except these were also still up), wouldn’t take pictures with Santa (is this where I tell everyone how I’ve told my kids from the jump that Santa doesn’t exist?), and wouldn’t visit family (why can’t we visit during off-peak times?).

It goes without saying that seasonal decorating does not happen at my house — I find this whole mantle or front porch decor and seasonal door wreathing thing baffling. First, I don’t have the room to store all this shit (yes, I mean this literally) and second, even if I did, I don’t want to.

Stuff does not equal wonder.

And why aren’t we talking about the false equivocation of rampant consumerism and joy?

Purchasing multiple Christmas trees or the entire Target décor aisle while buying as many toys as possible doesn’t mean your kids are enjoying themselves or making great memories. (The converse is also true: just because we are super low-key about the holidays doesn’t mean my children are miserable and making bad memories.)

In fact, I would argue that the more stuff you have, the more stuff-related stress you experience. Otherwise, why would the KonMari method be a constant staple in our cluttered lives?

My children aren’t missing out.

Don’t worry about my four kids — they’re not deprived of either viv or vim.

Just because my husband and I don’t give the kids presents, doesn’t mean they don’t receive any. My mother always gives them presents and when my mother-in-law was alive, she inundated them with so many presents that I think we’re still opening some of them years later. (She also sent them four of everything so they don’t fight, and one year she sent four pairs of stilts. It’s hilariously awesome.)

And even though I have a standing agreement with my brother to not exchange gifts, every year, he insists on sending my kids crap so I have to send his kids crap. I would have preferred cold, hard cash — which I deposit immediately into their accounts — but I understand why none of our kids would find money quite as satisfying. Ah, the foolishness of youth.

Before you call me a Grinch, it’s mostly out of practical reasons.

I have four kids. Just gifts from grandmothers and my brother alone — that’s a minimum of 12 extra toys in my house. Now add in presents they receive for their birthdays (I don’t give them those, either) — and I could realistically expect adding 24 to 36 toys every year to my already very full house.

Truthfully, unless they’re opening their presents next to kids who have received a ton of presents, my kids barely notice any lack. Why? Because every day of their lives is Christmas. Whatever they want, they usually get.

Also? Not to sound extremely cliché, but my children really do have more fun with giant boxes than the toys that have come in them. They’ve made dinosaurs, Among Us characters, weapons, dolls, cars, and all sorts of toys for themselves out of these boxes. And sometimes, they’ve just sat in the boxes and sledded down the stairs in them. (Hey, I said they were creative, not smart.)

Leave me alone to do the bare minimum already.

Look. I don’t begrudge people who go all out for the holidays — in fact, I have quite a few friends who do countdowns to Christmas, cookie exchanges, and whatever the heck else is associated with the holidays.

I let them wallow in the glory of peppermint mocha lattes and Elf-on-the-Shelf and like their photos and am very happy for them and their families. And then I’m also immediately grateful it’s not occurring in my house.

So if I can find it in my cold, Grinchy heart to love my friends who love the holidays, please leave me to find joy in doing the bare minimum … and let me fantasize about being reincarnated as a rock in the next life.

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