Already tonight I have been up waaaaaayyyy too long. 5:35 am? Yep… too long. What was that article I read about the other day that said people who had irregular sleep schedules, cussed a lot, and had messy living spaces where more intelligent? Right…
Any who, as I’m getting ready for my meditation and bed, I just realized how internally stressed I am about the upcoming holidays. Why?! It happens every year. That nagging holiday anxiety. I don’t know if it is because holidays in my past where up and down? Or, is it because I love giving presents and can’t afford them… again… Or is it because I’m an introverted extrovert (insert scientific personality stuff here)? Maybe it is because the actual idea of the holidays hold no real meaning to me… (We will talk about religion at a later time. Yes… I’m either brave, or asking for trouble with that one).
The reality is, none of that is important. While I’m still not fond of holidays and the often unrealistic expectations associated with them, I do know that being able to exist and enjoy time with family is well worth tackling personal holiday demons. Day to day life is difficult and we often don’t get to spend the time with our loved ones that we would like to.
I have fond memories of holidays when I was very young. Isn’t it interesting that when we are children, we tend to never see the struggle? Life is always glitter and make-believe. I remember waking up on Christmas morning and running out to the living room with my little brother and seeing all the wonderful things set out under the Christmas tree and piled on the old brown love seat. Oh the time it must have taken Santa to set up my barbie RV and Morgan’s train track! My mom always had a tired but really big smile on her face.
What I never realized is that Santa (a.k.a. Mom) stayed up all night working on those presentations. She set up everything and wrote a letter from Santa in fancy calligraphy telling us how much he loved the cookies and milk, how good we had been, and a host of all kinds of other things that my ADHD would not allow me to sit still and finish reading… There were so many toys… so many new things! I opened and opened presents as I sat in my nest(aka the sunken spot in the couch where the springs had finally given way).
Even as a child I noticed my mother’s struggle. She would work really hard at work, and then really late into the night after we went to bed making extra artsy crafty things that she could sell at the shop for extra money. We were always short on money, and she never got things for herself. We didn’t do without, but we couldn’t afford all those things Santa brought. That is how I knew there was a Santa.
Turns out, it was actually the miracle of tireless hard work and layaway, with some help along the way. Looking back, I really don’t know when my mom slept.
As I grew older, and new family members became part of our lives, Christmas became a bit stressful(from the perspective of a teenager). However, the lack of joy was not due to lack of trying! It was not a secret that my step-dad didn’t do holidays or Sundays well. Looking back, it was not because of ill intentions! No… I think it was because he wanted our holidays to be SO perfect and fun, he obsessed a little too much and removed the dreaded spontaneity. Perhaps because holidays for him as a child were difficult and he wanted to make sure holidays for his kids weren’t.
He tried his best to make sure we were all lined up perfectly with precision so the camera could capture all of us opening our presents. He made sure we took turns opening gifts so that we could all share each other’s reactions and that the present opening area was trash free by instructing us to carefully place spent wrapping paper in the provided trash bag. He had Ryan open gifts first because he was the youngest, and thusly we all assembled them for him before we proceeded with opening our gifts…. even if it was four hours later. *Some assembly required.
He indeed wanted us all to have the gifts we asked for on our Christmas list. He always wanted dinner to be delicious and have everything that a good holiday dinner should. I think he truly meant well and tried as best as he knew how to make holidays a wonderful event. Whether they were a success or failure in the stress department, I still look fondly at those times and am thankful. Sometimes, seeing one’s intentions is easier to do in hindsight.
As I became an adult and grew older, I gathered my own obligatory collection of Christmas baubles that I spent a good few days every year hauling out and putting away. I worked extra hours to buy the stained glass snowmen for my tree and enough lights to blow my outside brakers. But eventually, I quit putting out the tree and the lights, and my collection of acrylic snowmen. We were always away from our house on the holidays anyway and Keith was never really into the “make Christmas special” participation end of it anyway. Eventually we moved and in storage all that stuff has remained. I haven’t seen my Christmas stuff in 8 years. However… I’m not sad. It has brought me a sense of freedom… like I have had a huge end of the year load lifted off of me.
I’d show some pictures of my insane light adorned house, but I lost my main hard drive a while back with every bit of my family pictures and home videos. I think I can have it recovered, but it will be upwards of $500… yea. It might be a while.
Since moving to Florida, we have experienced a whole new series of holiday experiences.
SPANISH HOLIDAYS. This is a completely new experience for me. We have been here a while now, and still I struggle to fit in. Christmas here is full of loud laughter, glowing decorations, big hugs, lots of smiles, joy, giving, stories, drinks, food, and loud music and more food. Everything is BIG and LOUD. You can’t help but smile and share in the joy regardless of anxieties and personal reservations. Not once have I felt not welcome nor have I been judged or made to feel bad about my inability to give gifts. Everyone is family and everyone is welcome.We have also made some wonderful new friends here and have enjoyed attending other holiday parties.
It seems the older I get, the more family I add and the more thankful I am for all of them. Every person that has entered my life has a special place in my heart. I have to push aside all that holiday anxiety by remembering that time is limited. Enjoy family while you can.
So what is it that causes my holiday anxiety? I really have no freaking clue… Perhaps it doesn’t help that every single occasion is riddled with unexpected events. Maybe I lock myself out of my house… and my car, or I go to leave and realize I have a flat tire. Maybe I dropped the desert I just spent a day making or mother nature is like “here! I know you have a stressful holiday week coming up, so here is your period!” Yeah… TMI. Sorry about that. Regardless, if you keep all of these mishaps in perspective, the truth still remains. Time with family is limited.
So, no matter what your holidays are like, remember that the whole point of the giant conglomeration that are holidays is to enjoy and be thankful. Forget all the rest.
To my big, beautiful, different, complicated family: I love you all, no matter where you are and no matter how many miles may separate us. Thank you all for always trying to make holidays special and for accepting me as me. I would do anything for any of you.