He was frantically searching for the most inexpensive, pliable plane ticket back "home" for Christmas, when I blurted out, "I am starting to hate the holidays". Aghast at my own blasphemous sentiment, I realized as I have gotten older, my fondness for the holiday season has scattered. It hasn't completely diminished but it's well on its way. The tone of his "why" indicated he too thought something was not quite right with my disposition.
As happy as the sales ads and Hallmark movies want us to feel about holidays, it's probably one of the saddest times of the year for a lot people and with good reason. The holiday season is a huge amplifier of the most difficult life events we deal with; break ups, distance, divorce and death. Folks are already experiencing difficulty walking through everyday life as they deal with life's hardships, then comes this sappy holiday time to remind them that a loved one is no longer living, or there are thousands of miles that keeps them from spending said sappy time together. That sucks.
As far as I can remember, the holiday season has always made me feel some kind of fuzzy, childlike warmth. Usually the day after Thanksgiving I gear up my favorite Christmas songs, generate a couple of different playlists and blast them all the way up until 11:59pm Christmas night. The thought of waking up Christmas morning surrounded by all the people who matter to me the most soothed my heart and comforted it with joy. However, this time this year and probably last year too, I have yet to make any playlists and that warm, fuzzy feeling is nowhere in sight.
Actually, I am feeling loads of pressure. Pressure to purchase the right gifts, pressure to spend time with those whom I haven't seen since last holiday season, pressure to send Christmas cards, pressure to be joyful and uplifting. That's a whole lot of pressure. I can imagine the pressure others feel, attempting to live up to what they have grown to commemorate the holiday season.
The holidays are also tough for those who co-parent. I mean who wants to really think and decide which parent your child spends Christmas with? Do you split the day? Half and half? Does the child go with one parent on Thanksgiving and the other on Christmas? I’m sure it gets easier as the child gets older but it’s still a sore subject.
In addition to pressure, I am sure some may feel a bit of loneliness this season. I have a few friends who have lost loved one, mothers, fathers. There is just something about the holidays that make you miss these loved ones the most. As kids growing up, my brothers and I would spend each Christmas with our god parents. They would spend the night at our home. On Christmas Eve, we’d try to sneak around the house in hopes of discovering what they got us for Christmas. God dad would laugh the night away. I can still hear the hearty, raspy burst of laughter that kept us awake wondering what all the fuss was. Christmas just isn’t the same without him.
How is one to handle the holidays when in a situation-ship? Do you introduce quasi bae to the family over the holidays? Or maybe just meet up for a movie later on that night. Would seeing each other over the holidays implicate something deeper? So many questions.
Christmas was my favorite holiday. Not because of the gifts but it was one day I knew for sure my family (immediate and extended) would gather for the time of our lives.
Things just aren't the same anymore. Everyone is segregated, with their own lives. The one living God-parent is 1,800 miles away. Extended family members have passed away. The anticipation has dissipated. The gifts are few and nothing too exciting, unless it's cash.
My once favorite holiday just isn’t the same anymore and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be once you get older. Maybe it’s really more about your own personal joy and not so much focus on who’s around and who isn’t. I know it’s not about pressure and definitely not about the gifts. I won’t get to see some people I’d really want to see for a few reasons. But the hope is I’d feel warm and fuzzy all the same. But the truth is, Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the ones you love.