Friday, December 08, 2006

Bah! Humbug!

Really, I'm not a Scrooge but neither am I ebullient with Christmas Spirit. I've been reading in blogs where people are complaining they don't have their usual excitement about the holidays. Life has becoming overwhelming and they aren't enjoying the season like they used to.

I'm just not Christmasy, haven't been for a long time. Not that I dislike the holiday, I just don't go all out. I do have my reasons. Nothing tragic, at least nothing tragic which affected how I feel about the holidays.

I grew up with Christmas Woman. My mother has always gone overboard with Christmas and our house was always decorated with a mountain of decorations. She hasn't changed much, she puts up two Christmas trees and does a full light show on her house. We always had Christmas cookies and candy, presents under the tree, etcetera. My mom would go on this holiday high which lasted from Thanksgiving until New Year's. Then it crashed in January.

My home life growing up was not perfect, as if any one's ever is. My dad drank and my mom suffered from bouts of crippling depression. I always felt this sense of desperation at Christmas, as if we used the holidays as a band aid for the darkness in our lives. Oh, it wasn't a dark tunnel of misery, certainly not enough to make a Lifetime movie out of. And believe me, I cleaned up on Christmas morning, being an only child and all. But I do remember feeling an edge to the holidays. And January, watch out. As is common, my mother's mood plunged. She freely admits to the winter blues. Especially in California because we often have lovely weather in December then really crummy weather in the next 3 months. Kind of negates the elation of the holidays.

When I grew up, my first jobs were in retail. There ain't nothing that can beat the holiday spirit out of a person like working retail at Christmas time. I ended up doing all my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve because I couldn't stand going into the stores. I'd had holiday overload. It was exhausting.

So now I have my own home and I have a new set of reasons. One, my kids are death on decorations. The year I got married, I bought a village at Target. I haven't set it up in years because I know what will happen. I've lost many decorations to the savages. Some more precious than others. Usually, by the end of Christmas, there are hardly any decorations on the tree anyway. Two, my kids are so wound up this time of the year as well. The two girls have their birthdays in November and my son has his birthday two days before Christmas. They are so over-excited this time of year, I try to downplay the holidays just to keep us all sane.

I think there is too much pressure this time of year to be, well, merry. If we aren't in a celebratory mood, there must be something wrong. The messages we receive this time of year make us feel obligated to be happier, more generous than usual. Sometimes, I think it is too much. Moms really get hit with it. I do almost all the shopping, the baking, the decorating, what have you. I used to put a great deal of pressure on my self trying to have a Martha Stewart-style holiday. It didn't make my happy and it didn't make anyone else happy either.

The holidays should be fun and joyful, not an obligation. So don't worry if you don't have the holiday spirit. Pick and choose what pleases you about the holidays. I listen to Christmas music (except for yesterday's list) and drink egg nog. Add some Christmas cookies and I feel pretty Christmasy. Make it simple and enjoy the people around you. That's what the holidays should be about.

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