Monday, December 5, 2011

… please keep coming around ...

I both love and hate Christmas. It’s a complicated thing, like a relationship status on Facebook. I spent the majority of my week last week (which was full of silly adventures I may mention later) dealing with the fact that I suddenly no longer know what to feel about the holidays.

Yesterday was my breaking point, and it wasn’t pretty.

I went into town to get ready for my Christmas parade and went to Ulta to try and find vintage red lipstick. This is where my day started going unpleasant places in a hand basket (like Azkaban, Mirkwood Forest, Mordor, Moria, Snape’s potions lab, Boo Radley’s house, or Miami).

First off, I looked like this when I walked out.

The initial shock and humor was obvious, I looked like a clown-fish. Yes, those are my real lips! The orange shirt didn’t help, I'm sure. I even posted a photo to Facebook and Twitter. I made it to Old Navy and got something pink (a separate discussion altogether) for the parade. And then for no reason, I got hit with a wave of ‘I cannot cope’. It may have been the text about me having my mother’s lips, or the realization that the tenant situation is not going away. So I began to pick at the things I could ‘control’, extra points for trivia, evening plans, bills … and all these things started failing and or blowing up. I even got a very nice invitation that I handled EXTREMELY poorly due to sheer rising panic.

I grabbed my shoes and headed to the gym and thought I’d be able to get through the day with at least not making an ass of myself – and managed to lose it, via text message, on the way. At least it was to my brother and he knew that I was prone to this nonsense. So I headed into the gym, holding back tears, straight to the cardio room with the movie screen. I jogged, walked, biked, cried in a somewhat controlled fashion, and alternately watched/ignored a good chunk of Bridesmaids (for the 3rd time that week).

Isak Dinesen was onto something when he said “The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears, and the sea.” I was emotionally spent. So much so that I dealt with ‘family matters’ in my apartment (My 30 year old roommate cannot seem to understand that someone who claims to be coming to Clemson for their PH.D. from the UK should have some grasp of the English language, and have a means of payment that sounds reasonable) with a reasonable amount of grace and poise. I looked at my grungy, post-workout self, and went somewhere I knew I could go anytime without judgment. Auntie Joyce’s. We went to Ruby Tuesdays, she tried to set me up with the bartender (poor man, I looked and smelled horrible), and I obsessed over various minutiae, as usual. She made me laugh at myself, I bought her 91 year old mother a milkshake and dinner from Cookout, and we all watched Harry Potter on TV. She told me she hated Christmas, it was ok to hate holidays, and why on earth was I apologizing for crying, and I had better call my friend up right then because life was too short for people you love to think you’re an ass.

When I got home, I stared at the ceiling and started working through the things that rose like a tidal wave inside me today.

It went something like this - Thanksgiving is a lovely neutral holiday. I love the togetherness, warmth, sharing of love and general good feelings about the universe and life. I love the lack of expectation of gifts, and (except Black Friday) the general lack of commercial feel about the holiday. New Year’s is another one of my favorites - an excuse to get excited about new beginnings, drink yummy things, and make big fires and/or watch sparkly things explode. There’s also obligatory kissing, dancing and remembering where you have been and how to get to where you want to be. On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is an area littered with relational minefields and is slightly on the ridiculous side. If you want to make someone feel loved, give them flowers on a random Tuesday. Is it really necessary to make fancy dinner reservations, get all dressed up, and drink champagne on just one night of the year? Completely commercial. Easter, mostly so. Egg-laying bunnies for tortured, dying Jesus? I’ve never got it.

And then there’s Christmas. It’s all about money and buying and presents and parties and Handel and Jesus and tradition and Santa and … I just get overwhelmed thinking about it. Everyone has such strong feelings tied to it. I’m getting weird looks for wanting to go to a dance camp after Christmas and because I am not doing over-the-top Christmas ‘things’. I won’t mind watching holiday movies with you, or hearing the Christmas story, or even listening to the Andrew Peterson ‘Begats’ song (a personal favorite). But honestly, the religious attachments to Christmas have faded for me. This may shock some of you who remember the pageant that I was in many years ago and was a very quiet, humble Mary. I do still love the hymns and music of Christmas as my family celebrated it, but beyond that I have very little nostalgia attached to rituals and events with religious affiliation. I’d rather just hand out tokens of affection/remembrance, cozy up with nice people, and drink mulled wine with an awesome fire in the fireplace. Feel free to celebrate with your dreidels, menorahs, advent rings, nativities, chubby reverse thieves and so on. I’m just trying to make Christmas sane, meaningful, and survivable in a world that turns it into a commercial, preachy holiday that ends up empty after the presents are gone. I think I’m getting better at defining it for myself as years go by. In my mind, it’s akin to Thanksgiving – a time to spread the love a little, by giving others some of the things you think they’d appreciate.

This brings me to why I’m dancing in a parade tonight instead of becoming saner around people I love and like at trivia. I over-commit. Also, thought it might be good practice for Lindy Focus. Neither of those reasons seems to stand up to scrutiny. Tonight I will be wearing pink and rockin’ ‘round the Christmas tree while likely avoiding horse poop, Tootsie Pops, and people yelling “Jesus is the reason for the season!”. At least my (hot pink) skirt twirls really well.

And for the love of Pete, don’t get me started on pink-washing. 

And a video for pondering/extra credit -
Kinda makes you think, a little.

1 comment:

  1. That makes two of my friends today that have gone on a rant about the holidays.