A Very Un-Merry Holiday Season
OK. I'm sick. I've got an AWFUL head cold which was preceded by being thrown up on by my youngest bundle of joy and a 24 hour vigil while he spiked a high fever which made him so warm it was difficult to even hold him without sweating myself. I wanted to disclose such information because maybe I'm just cranky and sensitive right now - but it seems like there are an overwhelming number of blog posts by friends about how stressed they are, how much is going wrong in their lives, how they aren't looking forward to Christmas (for a laundry list of reasons) or how people are inconsiderate and play the guilt game . . . It just seems like the Internet is filled with all the reasons why the holidays suck and it's not even December 1st yet!!!
And it makes me sad.
It makes me sad because I remember how happy I always was the day after Thanksgiving because it meant that Christmas was on its way. It also meant that my birthday was coming too and birthdays were always very special when I was growing up. (Just ask my husband who has already heard at least a half-dozen times how many days until my birthday or the other night when I asked for a glass of water and said, with puppy dog eyes, "Well, it is almost time to celebrate my birthday month.")
A couple of local radio stations have started playing 24-hour Christmas music - and yes, I'm one of those people who love it! I can't listen to it 24/7 but I like having the option to listen to it when I get in my car everyday. (Although even better was this morning at 6 a.m. when my older son climbed into my bed and started quietly singing Jingle Bells to himself to, in his words, "try and put myself back to sleep. But I can't because I'm too excited about Christmas!")
Yes, the holidays are supposed to be about peace and love and hope and light and all things good - after all, isn't their an unwritten law about cease fires in times of war on Christmas Day? But instead we are bombarded with images of war, shopping, credit cards being maxed out, stressing out because we can't think of what to buy great aunt Edna who we only see on Christmas, but the commercials on TV tell us that there's something (expensive) for everyone and all we have to do is find the "right" gift and our holidays will be bliss.
And yet you're all miserable!!!
Why do we do this to ourselves every year? Why do we buy gifts we can't afford and then paying for them over the next 11 months? Why do we complain about the commercialization of Christmas and yet continue to support said commercialization with our wallets? Why do we buy a gift for great aunt Edna anyway? Does anyone actually give to charity in a recipient's name for that hard to buy for loved one? That would make too much sense, wouldn't it? Give money and services to people who actually need it instead of stressing out about great aunt Edna?
It just angers me to no end that the Christmas season I knew as a child no longer exists for most of us in the adult world. I know it's still there for the kids - my son reinforced that this morning at 6 a.m. - but where did it go for us grown-ups?
In search of an answer, and lower blood pressure, I've made a pact with myself this year. I'm buying a few toys for the boys, only useful gifts for my immediate family (nothing expensive either) and for those that don't need anything - I'm donating the money I would have spent to a local charity. I'm not going to stress. I'm not going to get all wound up about finding the "right" gift. If I don't get all my shopping done - so be it. The world will not come to an end. (At least not because of me)
What's important is family and spending time with them. What's important is seeing joy and peace and wonder in those around you and in your own circumstances. Many of us may be broke - but we've got computers to blog on, roofs over our heads and food on our tables. There are millions of people out there that can't say that - they sleep on cold, wet sidewalks or give their children the last piece of bread they have and go without or they watch their loved one die from hunger or AIDS or neglect - while we watch a news story about a man who was shot in the chest while standing in line to buy a Playstation 3, which many of his fellow line-mates were going to buy and then sell on EBay so they could make more money.
It's time to get our priorities straight, people. No one's going to do it for us. We're on our own. It's time to simplify. It's time to take a step back. It's time to remember that Christmas marks the birth of a baby and the joy that such a miracle brings to the world.
You can't buy that anywhere, at any price, but if you look into the eyes of your own children or your nieces and nephews, grandchildren and godchildren - you'll find it and it's absolutely (stress) free.
And now, I'm off to read poetry with my son.