Pre-Christmas Is My Christmas
2005-12-18, 8:44 a.m.
Awhile ago, I found this letter about holiday spirit.
"The holidays are coming, coming like a freight train with all their emotional baggage -- family, relationships, money, religion, all those things that cause me stress. In past years, I've just Refused To Deal. I hibernate, I don't go to holiday parties, I don't decorate, I don't send cards, I just do my damnedest to ignore the whole wretched mess. And it's worked, to some extent, through college and grad school and being married and splitting up and being divorced.
Secretly, I want to do the Full Metal Christmas thing. I choke up when I see twinkling lights. I want to spend a weekend making seven different types of cookies and decorating them with red and green sugar. I want to sing carols under my breath as my boots crunch through the snowy night. I want to be full of peace and love and eggnog. But it seems unattainable (and more than a little simpleminded) from where I am now. How can I perform a Grinch-ectomy on myself without a total personality transplant?"
I must admit, I don't go around ignoring Christmas (though I do completely ignore the sending of cards, because I could drown in the number of cards I already have and would get my ass kicked by my mother if I threw any out, so I try to discourage people from sending me more), though the way this girl acts pretty much sounds like the way I deal with Valentine's Day.
But I do think it's a stretch to reconcile What Christmas Should Be with What Christmas Really Is For Me these days. I miss the pre-college years, where with the exception of whatever crap the PITAS pulled that year, everything was fun and decorations and stuff like that. Ever since I moved out, things have stopped getting done (and then Dad got sicker, so that really increased), and the PITAS stepped up their behavior on me the older I got, and things got depressing, and then there were the two years that my ex and I fought the entire fall season about how come he couldn't be with me for Christmas.
At this point in time, on the actual day of Christmas every year I am like, "Shoot me now. Please, just shoot me now."
But I do still like the anticipatoryness of the pre-Christmas season. I like the parties. I like the atmosphere. I like the slacking off on the last day of work. I adore the decorations. I adore the lights up on houses. I love trees. I like breaking out the festive stuff and having excuses to dress up. I love collecting wacky holiday music and torturing people with it. And despite actually hating Christmas and New Year's with a fiery fucking passion every year, I'm quite sad once the season ends and it's back to everyone being cold and broke and bored and with nothing to look forward to until spring except for MLK Jr. day (or Valentine's, but obviously I hate that one).
So really, except for the usual meltdown I have over getting people presents every year, pre-Christmas is Christmas for me.
Sars's response sums it up nicely.
"But, you know, thinking people understand that it's more complicated than just one of those two reactions, and that gift-giving can get really political, and that eggnog is basically a really weird and gross substance (no judgments...I love that shit), and that all that Happy Family Time is not something everyone's psyched about if their families aren't happy, but at the same time that "Chrismukkah" is fun to say, and Bing Crosby is fun to listen to, and icing is fun to eat straight from the bo-- er, "put on cookies."
Just take what you like, and leave the rest. Everyone hates the crowds at the mall, and the constant carols for TWO MONTHS, but everyone loves candy-cane-striped candles. If you want to make gingerbread, do it. If you want to brood about how you wish you had a more TV-commercial-esque family to gather around the tree, do it. They aren't mutually exclusive. Some parts of the winter holidays are really neat and others are really an ass-tear, so don't feel like you "have to" feel a certain way about any of it."
And Carolyn Hax had a good line for this too: "Even when this time of year sucks for you, the lights are still pretty."