Friday, December 06, 2013

Christmas: don't grow up

Many people who celebrate Christmas see it as a time of great expense, thankless effort and having to get along with people they can't stand. It's a time of ill-fated expectations, endless holiday tasks and extra responsibilities. People who experience the holiday season this way dread its arrival and can't wait for January.

I don't understand them, but then I don't understand anyone who chooses to grow up, that is, have kids, establish a career, take on family responsibilities and move from being the child who enjoys Christmas to the adult who has to create it for someone else.

I'm 47 and a half years old and I've carefully crafted a life that contains exactly what I want and no more. Without children, family nearby or any dependents whatsoever, I get to make the holidays just what I want. When I was little I saw Christmas as an incredibly special day of celebration when no one could get mad at me or spank me, and I got to have whatever I wanted. I didn't have to earn it or deserve it; I just got have it because it was Christmas.

I still see it that way. Usually grown ups who get as excited about Christmas as I do surround themselves with children. They're parents, teachers and child care providers who love to decorate, wear festive clothing, see Santa and who never get tired of the same music year after year. I'm one of them, but without the kids. I've been dreaming about decorated trees since last March and have waited all year to wear my Christmas brooches and earrings again. Even though my mother died last summer and I'm going through a divorce, I'm still ecstatic about Christmas.

Whenever I see ads for holiday sales and hear the message to "BUY BUY BUY," it instantaneously gets processed in my brain as "It's CHRISTMAS! It's CHRISTMAS! It's CHRISTMAS!" In spite of  my big-brain tendency to overthink everything, Christmas makes my mind shut off and my heart go yay! Are there other adults who similarly never changed their child-like view of Christmas and just love it, even if they have no children in their lives?

I don't know what to say about people for whom Christmas is an ordeal of family abuse and ill will. I've suffered through Christmases with a histrionic dictator of a mother and I've even spent December 25th completely alone, but I know some go through much worse, year after year. I can only wish that they will one day free themselves from their destructive family members and find peace in their own rituals, making the holidays exactly as they want.

Even though many of my Christmases have been far from ideal, December is my favorite month. The anticipation is really my favorite part: I spend December in a state of blissful excitement from the 1st until the 24th. What difference does it make how Christmas Day itself goes? It's enough for me just to imagine it for 24 days. The anticipation is where the magic is for me.

This doesn't mean I don't recognize the cynicism and gross commercialism of the holiday season. When people criticize the rampant buy-and-sell mindset, I totally agree with them. I know that for many people Christmas has become a big equation with an answer that's in the red. But still, when I look at the greedy sales and ceaseless attempts to make us feel like we need another product, my response is, "Thank you soulless big box stores for reminding me that it's CHRISTMAS!"

I say: don't grow up. Don't move to other side of Christmas where grown ups stare at the stapled cardboard backing and think how ugly the season is. Stay on the glittery side where you can imagine that anything is possible. Look at the lights and the cheer. Ignore the marketing and the pain. There's nothing wrong with being happy. Maybe a lot of things aren't really possible, but just for one month let's pretend it all is.

Merry Christmas.

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