I’m about to make a confession that only my closest friends and family members know. I may regret having made this admission once your letters of disapproval start rolling in, but since I’m feeling a bit more candid than I usual, I’m going to take a stab at disclosing my innermost feelings.
I really dread the holidays. Yes, you read that correctly. And I know I’m one of the few people on the planet who feels the way I do, and certainly one of an even smaller group of people who would actually make that declaration.
The holiday season is a time of celebration – a time to give thanks for how blessed we are, and a time to express appreciation to those we cherish and care about. I get that part and I’m ok with it. It’s that other part of the holidays that haunts me each year: the long list of gifts I have to buy and the even longer lines in which I have to stand to make those purchases. It’s the endless yards of ribbon and wrapping paper I’ll find strewn throughout my house, and the eight weeks of disarray to which my home will be subject. It’s the countless events, each of which will require some sort of formal attire and hours of hair and make-up strategy.
Overall, the holidays to me are a disruption. They interrupt my already hectic agenda with more requirements and obligations. And although each year I start the season affirming I will rise above my dissenting attitude, my feeble attempt at optimism fizzles by mid-December.
But I have come to terms with my pessimism about the holiday season and I now realize it may never change. I’ve figure out that I conform to a cultural convention that infringes on my core value system, and therein lies the issue. Yes, I do believe the holidays are a time for celebration, and yes I do believe they are a time to give thanks and express our love and appreciation for each other. But I resent that we as a society, whether we wish to or not, are obligated to celebrate based upon the customs of a society that puts an inordinate focus on materialism during the holiday season.
I’ll give you an example: I would love not to have to shower my grandkids with gifts, and because I have a deep belief in God, opt to utilize the season to reinforce specific lessons about faith and hope. And rather than add to their pile of toys and clothes, I would prefer to sink all that money into donations to the needy, or terminally ill kids who spend the holidays alone in a hospital. Although we do that already, we don’t do it enough, and we don’t do it as a unified community. But God forbid my grandkids show up at school being the only ones who did not get to open gifts on Christmas morning! That’s a forecast of years of future psychotherapy.
Get my point? They get gifts because the others get gifts. So either no one gets gifts or we all get gifts for my ideological system to work properly. And it’s unrealistic and inappropriate for me to presume that everyone should share in my personal principles and celebrate the way I feel the holidays should be celebrated. After all, I don’t even celebrate utilizing my own utopian system!
So my angst exists because I really do wish our societal system were less materialistic, yet I’m entirely culpable for not figuring out a way to observe the holidays according to my convictions. Nevertheless, I am still in the part of the season in which I am determined to have a better attitude. So save your letters and admonishments … who knows, maybe I’ll actually make it all the way through with a smile this time!