Halloween was once the exception to my holiday shunning. But, even that is slipping away. This year, I didn't even realize Halloween was sneaking up on me until three days before the big night. My Halloween spirit was only saved by the last-minute decision that I would trick-or-treat houses - breaking the rule that, "I'm too old to do that," for the first time in 20 years.
Sure, we started out like the majority of people - conjuring up a huge celebration out of the hustle and bustle that lasts from Halloween until Christmas. But, something shifted in the 12 years since my son's birth, and I've been able to whittle away at these winter holidays until only the bare minimum is left.
Thanksgiving is usually contributing a dish to grandma's massive feast. Christmas is mostly gathering at the homes of other people who bothered to deck the halls. We've had years when we didn't even put up a Christmas tree, relied solely upon grandparents for gifts and never listened to a single holiday song. The only shred of consistent christmas spirit in me is choosing one major (usually handmade) gift project for some special individual.
The holiday season really leaves me stressed and feeling pressed for time. It's exhausting as I'm bombarded with constant reminders to be happy and festive and love people and buy stuff and turn on the lights to ward away the darkness. The very same consoling darkness that I want to curl into and befriend.
My sons make it really easy for me to say, "I just don't care about holidays, anymore." While they both enjoy holidays, for their own personal reasons, they don't make them a big deal. I really think it would take a couple years for them to notice if holidays just completely disappeared. People often ask me what to get them for Christmas and I don't have an answer because most of the time, they don't ask for much. My youngest son's most common answers to that question are, "Whatever they want to get..." or "A surprise."
How did this happen? I was a kid once. I enjoyed holidays well into my twenties. Holiday necessity and spirit are just things that have deteriorated over the years as I've gained more comfort in my lifestyle of doing whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I don't need a special day to be thankful or give gifts to my sons. I don't need a special time of year to eat turkey or listen to a christmas carol or stash a bag of candy in the drawer next to my bed. I just do these things whenever I want. I don't have anywhere special to go, for the holidays, that I can't go whenever I feel like it. I'm not relieved from some duty, like work or school, because of a holiday break. I avoid crowds like the plague - So, all the festive special events are a daunting task that I try to dodge.
Don't get me wrong. I like to visit my family and let everyone have their own holiday wonderland filled with their loved ones, seasonal foods, and special decorations. Very few people are aware of the intensity of my aversion to holidays because I make every attempt to attend and enjoy myself at family functions - although, at times, I'm sure I'm more of a grouch than usual. And, perhaps there is where I find my problem with holiday spirit. Could it be that my own personal holiday wonderland is so contrasting with tradition that even I have dismissed it and given up? What if I indulge my own vision of these winter holidays and respect my personal holiday wonderland? If I do more of what I really want to do during this time - would it make it easier for me to be cheery and help others celebrate their way?
My personal winter holiday wonderland vision would have me wandering lonely and depressed on walks into the cold, dreary winter season. Abandoning the festive lights and sounds, I find camaraderie among the dormant silence of tree skeletons that line the path. Cold, wet, quiet, dark, gloomy and bleak. These are the things I want to celebrate in the winter. I want to feel them and be part of them at a time when it seems traditional celebrations are trying to push them as far away as possible.
Can I regain some of my spirit for the more festive side of winter by allowing myself more time to be with the cold harsh reality of it?
I'm going to make an attempt at being "in the spirit," of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years by allowing myself to commune with the cold, dark reality of winter.
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