Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Bah! Humbug!"

The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving seems but a distant memory and Christmas is fast approaching (even faster it seems since I also celebrate Yule) and then before we know it 2010 will be just a memory. 

I can't remember the last year though that I felt in the "Holiday Spirit".

I'm not expecting a Norman Rockwell Christmas but for many years now I feel more and more like an Ebenezer. Thanksgiving just means sitting around with people I don't know at someone's house making small talk and pretending I'm enjoying the over salted stuffing and dried out turkey. Christmas means dealing with cats eating tinsel and finding gifts for people I know will probably end up in their local Good Will. New Years is just another night of going to bed late and then forcing myself to remember to write "2011" and not "2010" on bills and paperwork.

I try every year to make things different. To find my inner Rockwell....but then something happens and my holidays turn more into A Christmas Story (sans the Chinese Dinner for Christmas Dinner...we do that at Easter).

The "bah humbug" feeling started when I was 8 - all in one holiday season (a few days before Christmas) I found out that Santa, the Tooth-fairy & the Easter bunny didn't exist AND then I learned I was going to be a child of a "broken home"...my parents were getting divorced. The day after Christmas my mother, 6 month old sister and I packed up our belongings and moved out so my soon-to-be stepmother could move in. 

My high school sweetheart romance ended during the holiday season - a 2 year relationship coming to a close because he'd fallen in love with his best friend.

There was the Thanksgiving season of 2004 when my grandmother, who I had lived with since my parent's divorce, who had been increasingly ill passed away. We buried her the day before Thanksgiving. As a family we combined our strength and still got together that year - all the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together to eat her recipes and comfort one another. 

Last year was the first holiday season without the large family gathering that I'm accustomed too - being only a few months after moving to a new state.

This year is the second holiday season without my special-someone and now we're half way around the world from one another so that we aren't even going to be celebrating the holidays on the same days.

Anyway...this isn't meant to be a pity party.
This isn't a "I hate the Holidays" blog.
This is a "How can I get into the Holiday Spirit" blog entry.... 
So how shake off the Ebenezer and put on the Kriss Kringle cap?

Browsing the web I came across University of Maryland Medical Center's website has tips on how to "Beat the Holiday Blues" - their tips were:

- Delegate: Try not to do it all yourself. Easier said than done. I'm kind of a control freak (*shush* no comments from the peanut gallery please). When I'm cooking - Get out of my kitchen! When I'm putting away groceries - Get out of my kitchen! (do you see a theme?) I do try though. But really I was raised to believe it's just better do it yourself because you know it'll be done the way you want it. 

- Spend Some Time Alone: Take a breather. Find a quiet space to relax and charge. Oh don't worry! When it comes to alone time I do the best I can (hard when you live in a teeny-tiny condo with three other people but I try). I have to say that's one thing I miss from living in the Bay Area of CA. I lived in a part of town that I could just walk outdoors and go somewhere. Yes, I live in a large city but on the outskirts where getting anywhere takes an hour. But like I said I do what I can. 

- Let Go of the Past: Life brings changes. Don't dwell on the past. Again it's something I try to do. I know that change happens and usually (in the end) it's for the best. Even though the beginning of this blog talked about past holidays and the events that made them not the best...I go into each holiday season hoping for the best. Adding a new cookie to the list of Christmas cookies (baking makes me happy), putting the decorations up a little early, going to season celebrations, etc. Looking forward to the new year and the new opportunities that might come with it. 

-Don't Drink too Much.  Not too worry. Yes I can toss them back every once and a while but when I'm down I stay away from the alcohol.  Don't want to be telling Great Aunt Stella how her orange lipstick makes her look like a $2 hooker. 

-Give Yourself a Break: Don't think in Absolute terms. There's nothing I hate more than absolutes. "You never", "you always", etc but I know we all tend to do this sometimes. "I'm not a good artist" or "I can't cook" can bring down our own self esteem without even realizing it.  And I've worked hard over the years to stop and be a bit easier on myself. 

Now while I respect the medical profession none of these are sparking a "OH YEA!!" type feeling inside. I don't expect to go home tonight and jump up and down that I only have two weeks until the holidays are right on top of me. 

I will try. 

I will continue to walk with my head held high when walking through downtown looking at all the window displays. I'll continue to bake bake bake. I'll go to the Pittock Mansion this weekend and admire the antique designs. I'll visit the Oakland zoo's Zoolights. And appreciate the special time I have with my family. 

Hopefully somewhere in all of this the Scrooge inside of me will wake up and embrace the Christmas Cheer.

1 comment:

  1. Last year at this time I was studying to take the LARGEST test of my life, which I had (oops!) failed once, right after my heart was broken by the first person I truly thought I would spend the rest of my life with.
    My parents broke up around the age of 10. My siblings & I lived with my dad until he moved to the middle east. We would have an amazing holiday that really doesn't sound like much in retrospect, but it wasn't really centered around super-commercialism. It was about hanging out together, decorating and celebrating coming together, making a large, traditional feast together, buying gifts for each other that yeah, we probably don't have anymore, but the gifts were about spending time thinking about another person and what might make them happy.
    Anyways, this all stopped around the time I was 12. I ended up going whereever my mom's boyfriend of that year went with his family, my siblings (I'm the baby) all started families and joined the in-laws' holiday fest. My mom ended up sticking with one person and I ended up being the only person without a family on Christmas day.
    I spent about 3 years being entirely depressed and angry about it. The worst year was when I got drunk alone watching The Office on a computer and cried myself to sleep at my lost family.
    I decided to stop being like that. I've decided to reclaim Christmas time as my own holiday. The day of, I'm always around my family who still celebrates with their in-laws, but I think it's about a state of mind. I want Christmas to be about spending time with my loved ones and coming together. It's about appreciating the people I have in my life and about reaching out to the ones who need more. Unless I somehow start a family (Mary-style, ie immaculate conception), I try to reclaim it as a time to spend reflective, to think about all the great people and experiences I've been able to have in the past year, the friendships I've made and kept, the fact that I still feel really close to my family, etc.
    I end up usually drinking a lot for New Year's, so I'm recognizing that my Christmas currently sounds like a mix of what Thanksgiving and New Year's are... but I still find Christmas music and decorations magical, and I still retain hope that one day I will celebrate Christmas with "family" (more the newly-collected family rather than born-into family) and re-encounter the magic of this time, without the contrived consumerism.
    I hope you find what you want out of the Christmas holiday though.