The holiday season is one of my favorites. Despite not being religious, I still sing the traditional “Christmas” songs of my childhood at St. Madeleine Sophie church/school. I’m the person who has lights wrapped around the ski rack on top of my car (yes, they work and yes I get complimented on them!). I actually love finding cool gifts for the people I love, and even wrapping them. I have fun finding goofy, hilarious cards, and even writing the letter and taking the photo to slip inside. Decking the halls is fun, spending the day going to the mountains with my family to choose and cut a tree is one of my favorites.
But I have to say that there is one thing that brings out the Grinchy McScroogerson inside me.
I cannot stand people who whine and complain about the phrase, “Happy Holidays.” There is no “war on Christmas.” No one is cursing Christianity by using the phrase, “Happy Holidays.” What they’re doing is recognizing the fact that there are a bunch of holidays that occur this time, and making a genuine attempt to show respect to ALL of them. People who crow about “Jesus is the reason for the season” need to check their history books. The birth of Christ has been definitively shown to have occurred some time in August. The celebration was moved to December in a vain attempt to overshadow Saturnalia and Solstice. Yet, in as much as the Christian faith wanted to abolish the Pagan holidays, it has no issue with bogarting several Pagan traditions such as mistletoe, decorated trees, and wreaths. In fact, I would absolutely love to have a Christian reader explain to me why, since Pagan religions are so evil, they fly in the face of their own bible to have Christmas trees in their house? Jeremiah 10: 1-5 certainly seems clear to me. Hmm.
So instead of whining and complaining when someone doesn’t look at you and inherently know what faith you practice, and which holidays you celebrate, maybe you could step back, remove your head from your colon, and just accept the fact that someone is being nice to you. Smile. Say something back. If you prefer to use “Merry Christmas” simply because it’s what you celebrate, and you don’t care what those other heathens say, Jesus would never want you to acknowledge or respect other traditions, fine. Rock on. But stop acting like a self-righteous douchecanoe when someone wishes you peace, love, and joy in a greeting.
The holiday season also brings out family issues for me, and I realize that I am not the least bit unique in this. Guilt is slathered on thickly in my family, wielded by an expert in the application. My mother has always sought to have things exactly as she wants them, no matter what the cost to anyone else. She decides how the scene will unfold, and Dog help anyone who dares deviate from her wishes. When we were kids, she refused to tolerate even the hint of a lie. Yet in her own world, she will say whatever she feels needs to be said to maintain the level of control she seeks over her children, her friends, her whole existence. She would, at the same time, insist that she doesn’t lie. She “forgets” or “misunderstood” but how dare you suggest that she lied? What she actually does is interpret things differently, and then conveys those interpretations in the most convenient translations. But lie? Noooooo.
I have crumbled in the face of “family first” so many times I can’t even count. I have betrayed my own heart and soul to accommodate the whims and wishes of my mother, to bend over backwards to keep peace, holding silent on episode after episode of bullshit. So this year, I’ve decided to listen to my therapist and try to stay true to me. I have no desire to pretend to be happy to hang out with Golden Boy and his new girlfriend, or my aunt who is so utterly clueless that she hasn’t figured out that her wardrobe needs to evolve beyond that of a 25 year old (she’s nearly 60). My sister approached me last year with the decision that our families should not get together anymore. I was more than a little surprised, as my family, while not enthused at attending these holiday farces, were at least willing to do so with a shrug. That her family was “absolutely on board” as she put it, hurt my kids a lot. They had issues with one of their cousins but not so much with the other. So when the one cousin made an attempt with an olive branch this year, it truly was too little too late, I guess. I don’t get in the middle of it anymore; they’re nearly adults and need to figure out their own way. But they’ve seen quite clearly from my own life that genetics do not make “family”. Love, trust, and loyalty do.
My holiday season will have its share of stresses, as my in-laws will be with us for my entire break. They’re good people, but have no hobbies or interest beyond sitting around the house. It doesn’t mesh well with our family, but we’re going to hopefully make it work for everyone. That being said, I am determined to have my own peaceful few weeks. My Zen Holiday. I’ve got presents wrapped as they come in the house, cards ready to be sent tomorrow, shopping done, menus planned. I have definitely decided not to work over the break, unlike the chaotic deadlines of last year. But most of all, I am not attending my “family gathering”. My mother flew at me when I mentioned possibly being away for the weekend on which it’s planned. She swore that my sister said she told me the date and everyone said it was fine. Not true. I know to double check with my sister on anything my mother says, and she confirmed that my mother hadn’t even mentioned the date to her. Then last night, when my mother was out to dinner with my sister’s family, my sister mentioned my being absent that weekend. My mother furiously denied this, swearing up and down that she checked the date with me and that I’d said it was great. See what I mean?
This season is going to be about my family – the Scientist, the Professor, the Artist, and the Ambassador. It’ll be about the people who mean the most to me, my chosen family, outside of those four, and it’ll be about that elusive Zen.
Wishing you and your family love, joy, Zen, and “Happy Holidays”, no matter which ones you celebrate!