I thought about whether or not to write this today, thinking it might be too cynical to be honest during the one time of the year when most people feel the most cheerful. Then I thought, "screw it, go ahead!" Not all of us come from perfect families and wonderful childhoods. We aren't all happy during the holidays.
I don't know why our culture crams joyfulness down our throats during the darkest time of the year. Seriously, I'm not making it up. It's a scientific fact that on December 21st, the sun reaches its farthest southward point. At winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year, thus darkness.
I'd rather hibernate than decorate a tree or shop for presents. The holiday season gives me two things: anxiety and stress. I don't think I'm alone on this. The more I try to be like everyone else - playing Christmas music, rushing around from store to store, decorating my place with lights, garland and ornaments and mailing out Christmas cards - the more depressed I become. (God forbid I should forget to send a card to that person - who was it again?)
Holidays can bring out the worst in people. It's not fun for me to remember past Christmases. Now, not all of them were horrible. Some were downright pleasant, like my kids' first Christmases, or that one where I got exactly what I wanted when I was a little kid. Or that year that my husband and I decided to stay home and spend Christmas day with the kids, go to the park and throw a football around with them, eat a meal we prepared together and watch movies all night long.
But the pressure of keeping up with society's idea of what Christmastime should be, pushes me further and further into frustration and exhaustion. I'm not a consumer. I don't shop at malls or big box-stores. I'm not one of those people who joins the hordes at the Walmart doors just before midnight on Thanksgiving night to get the best deals on the latest and greatest junk that no one really cares about.
I remember the last Christmas I spent with my dad, just weeks before he committed suicide. I remember the first Christmas after my divorce, and how I couldn't afford much for my kids. I remember harsh words from alcoholic family members, and feeling less-than, not good enough and crawling back into bed to sleep all day. I remember shopping till I couldn't move anymore, wrapping gifts into the wee hours of Christmas Eve night and attempting to cook the perfect homemade meal, only to be criticized and judged.
For those who are like me - the misfits of dysfunctionality - fear not! We don't have to fall into the false belief that the holidays will make us feel better, bond families and cure all. (If they do for you, hallelujah!) It is totally okay to not feel jolly. Here's what I do (and maybe it'll work for you):
I take care of me first. What does that mean?
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate and survive the holidays. Peace to you during this, the darkest time of the year.
Monday, November 27th, 2017
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