The holidays….That time of the year that now begins before Halloween (because, why live in the moment?) and goes til…the til part is a little fuzzy for me because there’s New Years, then football bowl games, then the NCAA champion game that goes til sometime in the first or second week of January…
As a kid, I LOVED Christmas! I loved the tradition of going to my Grandma Susie’s house, having Shakey’s Pizza (yep, pizza) and being forced to take family pictures in matching outfits that my mom had made before being sent to bed for Santa. My Grandma lived in a small town, LaVerne, California, that had a lovely tradition of Santa, his sleigh and “reindeer” being escorted around town by the fire department (who also sponsored the event.) Each kid got a gift bag from Santa (peanuts, perhaps a few pieces of candy and I think little games or balls as the present) and of course there were more pictures.
I’m not sure why or when my focus moved from Christmas to Thanksgiving – I know I was an adult, perhaps 15 years ago or so….but it was a tangible shift for me, and I’m still not sure why it happened. Perhaps because I became more aware of the fact that my mom hated cooking or that I loved it. Perhaps because I became more aware of how much my mom dreaded Christmas or that our family had become much more dysfunctional(much more than other families I’d convinced myself). Or perhaps, it was when depression became more a part of my life. Who knows, but it happened and the Christmas holiday became much more of a 2nd act than a headliner. And for me, that’s where it remains.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy Christmas – I do. And I can definitely say that its a much more enjoyable holiday when my niece and nephew entered the picture. Their excitement over Santa takes me back to my own excitement for Santa (and I still have no idea how my parents did it all for 4-5 kids!)
So, sometime between all the black friday/cyber monday hoopla and the actual Christmas holiday, the bah hum bugs set in. But, like my pal the Grinch, there’s something that I cannot put my finger on, so I say that it ALL just gets a little difficult. It’s the month(s) long build up of all the STUFF – the in-store advertising that starts sometime around November 1, the 30+ days of the sappy Hallmark movies, the beloved cartoons (Grinch, Rudolf, Frosty), the sales and shopping and the diamond commercials and all the stereotypes of traditions that are thrown at me. It’s this and SO. Much. More. And THIS YEAR, it’s more than difficult, some days are whelming!
It’s the wanting to go to holiday parties, but not being able to go because depression or anxiety or both have decided to be selfish and keep me all to themselves. Or being physically and mentally ABLE to go, but not being invited because I’d made so many excuses in the past. It’s the pressures to bake or make even when I want to do it all. It’s the need to sleep til noon even when I know I have a stack of things I have to get to because they are time sensitive. It’s seeing all the “perfect” moments shared by friends on the inter-web. It’s the wanting my ‘me time’ but not wanting to be alone or lonely. It’s being alone and lonely. It’s feeling invisible.
I KNOW I’m not alone in these feelings. But they’re still there. I KNOW I’m truly not alone – my friends and family remind me so often and in so many ways that I’m not. Yet these feelings are there and I face them, some of them. Some I face way better than I do others – some are pushed down and will be dealt with someday…maybe.
One thing I’ve learned that I’ve needed to do, is to say (Loud and Proud) THE HOLIDAYS CAN SUCK IT!(paraphrase as appropriate) I gave myself permission to say this – somedays, I say it multiple times a day. Somedays maybe only once. Somedays, not at all. It’s ok – especially when Hallmark and it’s sister channels are showing “the puppy who found the perfect love for the distraught girl and saved the holidays” type of movies or the G-D Sales commercial is on hawking the PERFECT diamond. (It’s also WAY ok to hide those channels from now til Valentines day!) Humor helps me.
(The Grinch and Max are property of the brilliant and so talented Dr. Seuss aka Ted Geisel)