when the world falls apart? wait, that’s not the words…well, that’s often how it feels to me as a grown adult. I’m often flabbergasted by how differently I feel towards the holiday season these days in comparison with my scantily contained jubilation as a child. I used to LOVE Christmas. now…I border on something close to hatred for it. my mother used to hate Christmas. every year, she would swear it was the ABSOLUTE LAST TIME….fill in the blank. I never understood it. until now.
the reasons for this are myriad. mostly, I’ve realized that Christmas stands for pretty much everything I’ve come to reject in my adult life: consumerism, materialism, and inauthenticity. and for this down to earth view, I get called a scrooge. oh, the irony. but that’s groupthink for you. one thing I’ve learned from my “radical” views on life and parenthood is that it’s hard to be an outlier. the road less chosen is nice in a poem but not really human nature. we are conformists to our core (we used to use that word in high school to insult each other. “you conformist! you poser!”). plus I’m an introvert. if there’s one thing that will make an introvert turn green with queasiness, it’s large groups of people. parties. for numerous days in a row. give me an intimate date with a close friend over forced cheer and good will any day. not that I don’t have good will toward men. I do. but go ahead and say that you don’t like Christmas out loud and people look at you like you’re the antichrist.
maybe it’s also because if there’s one thing that keeps me afloat in my crazy life at home with three kids, it’s balance. a delicate one at that. and Christmastime just plain tips all my scales. it makes my kids go from hyper and excited to crashing with overwhelming emotions and exhaustion. it takes the small joys we’ve learned to appreciate on a day to day basis and stuffs them on a roller coaster through a blazing L.E.D. lit tunnel of blaring Christmas carols. our days lose their rhythm. our nights lose their peace. and we lose a little bit of ourselves in the whirlwind of it all and end up feeling a little left in the lurch when it’s all said and done, surrounded by piles of new toys we didn’t know we wanted, with sugar hang-overs, reeling from the amount of conversations we’ve had, all of the people we’ve interacted with. it takes well over a month to recover.
yet, there are still the simple joys to be found, if you know where to look. if you can shut out the glaring intensity of the commercial season parading past your front door day and night. the meditative ritual of making trays of cookies in the early dawn, before the kids are up. the smell of a fire on the cool night air, the crackle of the wood, the warm show humans have been gathering around for eons, telling stories, playing music, and snuggling in just a little closer. the slow and steady trek to the shortest day of the year, when darkness threatens to overtake the light and everything once green is brown and gray. but the dawn always comes back. then they days begin to lengthen again as we start our slow tilt back towards the sun. your favorite Christmas song that brings back a simple feeling of joy from Christmases past. opening Christmas cards from friends and family with simple messages of peace and happiness.
whatever they are, I hope you find your simple joys this holiday season.