Can we talk about the holiday season for a minute? I fit into a weird middle ground area, falling in the cracks between the people who eat, sleep, and breathe Christmas and the BAH-HUMBUG I HATE EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS people. Without getting too deep into a story that isn’t really mine to tell, let me give you a little bit of background.
My mom lost her mother to cancer very close to Christmas. Since then, each year she has smelled the smells, heard the songs, and saw the beautiful decorations that are forever coupled with the memory of her mother’s death. And being just ever so slightly a little too enmeshed with my mother, (or maybe just extra feely and empathetic if we are being generous) every year I smell the smells, hear the songs, and see the beautiful decorations that remind me of my mother’s grief.
It actually took me a LONG time to realize why the holiday season has always had this sort of melancholic aura surrounding it. Like, maybe 29 years. But I’m getting it now. I’m getting that the holiday season isn’t easy for my mom. That behind her perfect gifts and impeccable decorations and delicious holiday treats she is trying trying trying so hard to make Christmas perfect for the people she loves because then maybe she will be happy during Christmas too. I’m getting that the undercurrent of sad in the air around Christmas time has a real, actual basis and it hasn’t just been in my head all these years. All these picture perfect, beautiful, messy years.
But you know what else I’m getting? Every holiday season is a chance to turn it all around.
I can choose to remember that Christmas is just another day. A heavily commercialized day with history and years of traditions and routines, but underneath all those trappings, it is really just another twenty-four hour ride. We can say to ourselves, “Oh, hello Christmas. I think we both know you aren’t my favorite time of the year, and that’s ok.” Sometimes great peace can come from letting go of the idea of what something needs to be in order for you to be happy. Maybe we can let go of the idea that Christmas will be merry and in turn relax a little.
But also, each holiday season is a chance for me to celebrate the things I do have now, in this moment. The fact that Christmas is forever paired with the grandma-I-never-really-got-to-know’s death can remind me that life is fleeting, and Christmas is another day I get to spend with my messy, beautiful family. That I have been given another day on this planet to celebrate the miracle of being freaking alive. Another day my heart is beating and I am breathing and enjoying delicious food and enough extra wealth to open shiny packages filled with thoughtful gifts and that I get to sit next to the beating hearts of the people I love the most. I know that there can be stress and weird dynamics and pressure and sadness too. That’s ok. That’s life. As I’ve said before (actually, as I’ve stolen from Vanilla Sky) and I will say again, the sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour.
So maybe Christmases or holidays are hard for you most years. Maybe they will be hard for you this year. Maybe you or your family are struggling with illness or a new baby or a job loss or loss of a loved one or the break-up of a relationship or just feeling very alone. Its ok. Christmas doesn’t have to be everything. It is just another day, and it can be a great one or a terrible one or an ok one. It can be a day that you can celebrate just getting through. Sometimes, that is a huge accomplishment worthy of a big pat on the back. Or it can be a day you notice the little things and big things you have to be thankful for. You can pick. I hope that you will let it be what it needs to be for the loved ones in your life. I hope that you will have compassion for those who have a really tough time on Christmas. I hope you will realize that other’s people’s issues many times have nothing to do with you. I hope you will enjoy and laugh and love and find gratitude for the little things this Christmas.
I love you guys.