Hate Christmas? Here’s a scientific survival guide for the Scrooges

Hate Christmas? Here’s a scientific survival guide for the Scrooges

Two years ago, I came into work on December 1 to find a bag on my desk labelled “Karen’s Christmas Intervention”. It contained many Christmas themed gifts and challenges – such as watching a Christmas DVD and going to a carol service.

These were all designed to help me find something to like about Christmas. I tried everything – after all, someone had made a big effort. But while I enjoyed completing each challenge, it didn’t change my values. I remain a Grinch.

In many parts of the world, we are expected to love Christmas and embrace all things about it. Anyone who doesn’t is quickly labelled a Grinch and advised to keep their views to themselves so that they don’t ruin a magical time for others. But how reasonable is this? And if you are a Grinch, how can you survive the yuletide season?

Quite simply, a Grinch is a person who dislikes Christmas. Some definitions suggest that Grinches try to spoil Christmas for others. However, in my experience, it is not the Grinches who proselytise – people who love Christmas work very hard to try to change the Grinch’s standpoint.

If you are considering calling someone a Grinch, think first about how well you know them. If you are unsure of their circumstances then take care, not because being “grinchist” is against the law (Grinch is not a protected characteristic), but because there are many reasons why a person may not like Christmas.

These may range from anti-consumerist political views to loneliness, financial worries, family difficulties or traumatic childhood experiences.

However, if you are a fellow Grinch, here are five suggestions, informed by science, that may help you to navigate Christmas. Remember that different strategies work in different contexts and for different individuals, so try to find a strategy that fits you.

1. Get support

Countless studies show that people who live with long term health conditions hugely benefit from finding other people who understand what they are experiencing. Someone who lives with persistent pain may worry that they are a burden on their loved ones and so be reluctant to say how they really feel.

Finding other people who have similar experiences provides them with an instant recognition and level of understanding. They can say what they really think, and be who they really are, without fear of upsetting their nearest and dearest. So one solution is to find other grinchy people – perhaps with the help of social media – among whom you can stay true to yourself.

2. Be strategic

Can’t face the thought of Christmas dinner in a restaurant with colleagues but don’t want to explain why? Why not conjure up another commitment which means you can only come to the pre-dinner drinks?

After all, there are always lots of invitations this time of year, so nobody will be suspicious. This means that you show your face and show you are willing to participate. And you get home at a reasonable hour before the mask covering your grinchiness slips.