Dear friend/colleague/person from church I don’t really know,
Thank you for your very kind invitation for me to spend Christmas with you. Although it is very kind of you to offer, I shall be declining because, quite honestly, I don’t want to come. You see, even though your space and your children and your great Aunt Maud are lovely, I would rather be by myself.
I know I usually complain about how much I hate my own company, but this time, I’m happier like this. If I came to yours, there is a chance you would go out of your way to try and put on what you believe is the perfect Christian family Christmas day.
You will have banned arguments, bribed everyone to be nice to me and prepared a stocking so I don’t feel left out. It’s really kind for you to reassure me that you’re not acting differently because I’m there, and that you really hate when people act hypocritically and extra holy because it’s Christmas or because they have guests.
It’s great that you’re having an open house this year, and inviting everyone who would otherwise be alone but I don’t really want to be sociable with lots of people who also aren’t having the stereotypical Christmas time.
I appreciate that Christmas is a difficult time for many people, and that you’re trying to make things bearable for people. That’s really generous of you, and it will make an incredible difference to some people’s lives.
It’s just that, I don’t want to come.
You see, if I stay at home, I can watch what I want. I can wear and drink and eat what I want, and when I want. I don’t need to humour you and fit into your timetable. Instead, I can see you on another day, that doesn’t have the expectations of perfection placed upon it that December 25th does. I understand that you would hate to think of me by myself, and you cannot imagine anything worse than being alone for Christmas. I can though. I’ve had worse.
Neither my faith nor yours is shaped by the amount of times we do things that will make ourselves feel better. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you have to invite me, and just because I am doesn’t mean I have to accept. I can acknowledge the birth of Jesus whether I’m eating a roast dinner with 10 others at your house or mine, or whether I’m having a ready meal on my own.
And this year, I will.