I spent my lunch today beneath a speaker that was nearly bursting with Christmas glee. “The Christmas Song” greeted me as I entered the pub for my soup pick up and I couldn’t help but cringe. I love every kind of music genre there is. Except holiday music. I understand it’s the season, I understand it’s cheerful, and not at all inappropriate as at least it’s past Thanksgiving weekend, but I still can’t bring myself to agree with it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m Christian (and thus grew up celebrating Christmas with gusto and midnight Mass), I loved Winter all my life until I moved out on my own as a grown up in DC (and now Winter simply means gray days, wet sidewalks, and higher heating bills), I understand the cultural/religious/historical context and importance of the Winter holiday season (and not just within my own background but others’ as well), but it just all rubs me the wrong way.
I suppose some explanation is in order. My parents are very hard workers (and two of my best friends) and Christmas was always a great treat – but my mom has worked in retail longer than I’ve been alive, and that leaves little time for anything but store hours and sleep during the holidays. When we were children, we didn’t notice, and we all lived in the same place so family time was abundant in every way we could make it. Since leaving that cozy reality, family time is much higher on the list of ‘things I’d like to do but…’. Were I to save the money needed to travel to see my family and/or friends, I would be more a thorn in their side while they attempted to work their butts off and see the rest of their own family/friends than I would be bringing anyone any holiday cheer.
So it started small. I had a sort-of Christmas out west with a college boyfriend. A Thanksgiving with a friends’ family in NYC. Christmas with the Ex and his family because it was just sort of the thing to do. And then last year hit. There were things to be done in my new home and no reason/motivation to travel beyond it ‘being the thing to do’. I stayed home. I re-wallpapered our kitchen. I had a Christmas drink with a couple of my favorite bartenders. I was alone. You know what? It was all right.
I firmly believe in this whole ‘holiday spirit’ thing not only existing in the month of December. I’m someone who tries to give of my time and charity whenever I can. I look awful in red and green (really, does anyone look good in that combination?). I spend time with my family and loved ones as often as life permits. I think the reason I’ve grown so cynical about the holiday season isn’t because I spent it alone, or even the prospect of doing the same again this year (because I’m not someone who wants to butt in on other peoples’ holidays, you know? Even though nearly every year I do get very heartfelt invitations from wonderful friends), but the fact that togetherness and cheerfulness are suddenly crammed down out throats for 25 days!
I like this season as a moment to reflect. It might seem depressing, or grouchy, or even Scrooge-like. I’ve even been told I have no cheer. I enjoy a solitary (though that may change this year – keep your eye out for details!) jaunt to see It’s a Wonderful Life when AFI Silver Spring shows it on the big screen. I really love eggnog. And holiday food. And candy canes. But I’m not a Rudolph-adorned-sweater wearer. I don’t put up decorations and sort of wonder why people want to in the first place. I’m not a big shopper or even a big holiday gift giver. I rarely send cards (for the holidays, at least, though I do love sending real live snail mail & letters at other times). I look at the end of the year as just another in a series of months in which we can tell our loved ones how much they mean to us, enjoy the company of our coworkers at the occasional holiday party, and take a breather.
Am I Scrooge? What do you think? How do you celebrate the holidays in your own weird ways? I think this whole ‘she must have no cheer/soul/spirit/home/loved ones’ attitude I’ve gotten in years past has finally unnerved me. Let me know I’m not so alone in my weirdness, yeah?