Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meh humbug

WARNING: HUGE potential for what might be construed as whining in this post. Be thee warned.
image from here

It seems like each year, the holiday known as Christmas gets a little less exciting for me. I'm not the only one; WhiskeyMarie was feeling a little "meh" as well. I have several theories to explain why xmas just doesn't hold the same joy and excitement as it did even a few years ago; maybe writing them out and hearing your thoughts will help me find some answers.

1. the lack of xmas magic--Once big brother Ricardo and big sister Raquel had both married and started having their own kids, they started saying, "Christmas is for the kids!" all the time. Kid sisters Mary and Nora and I thought they were just being cheap; xmas is for everyone! Family and friends and xmas magic! Santa! Then R&R started talking about the dreaded "draw names" approach to gift-giving, which Mary and Nora and I reasoned was what one does at work, not with family! It just seems so cold. M, N, and I still wanted presents all around, even little ones! No one had to spend a bundle or anything; who doesn't enjoy a cool framed photo or a handmade present? The little sisters and I were able to resist the drawing of names for several years, but as the families grew we got out-voted. We've been drawing names for at least ten years now, and I guess I'm okay with it (it IS cheaper, which is good when you're poor like me but still takes the magic out of it). Still--it's not the same. I can't get over the associations with work and other non-family gift exchanges; it just takes the magic out of it for me.

2. not being "home" with the family--This one really hit home this year, as I was stuck in PA without my blood family and without my Kat-and-Em family for the first time in six xmases. I ended up spending a few hours with my friend Joche (JOSH-ee) and her sister and grandma, and we had a great time eating good food, drinking, and lying around in our sweats watching "Law and Order." Still, I really missed my own family, and once I went home, I was kinda lonely and bummed. I didn't do a tree or decorations because it just seemed kinda silly, and I sat around and watched Harry Potter movies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Not very xmas-y. I'm sure Mom and Dad and the siblings were watching "A Christmas Story" and laughing their asses off, with the smell of pine all around. *sniff!*

3. being older/atheist/cynical--This might be a big one, or it might not. I haven't been a church-going religious person for a LONG time, so I know it's not the absence of the baby jeebus or anything churchy that makes me sad. But now that I'm older, I do tend to think about the financial side of xmas (again with the lack of xmas magic). Also, now that I'm such a pragmatic adult, I always want practical gifts. We all used to groan as kids when we'd get socks or panties; now that I'm older, I LOVE socks and boxers as gifts. That's fewer socks and boxers I have to buy for myself! Is that pathetic? Is it just old-crabby-person talk? Maybe Christmas really IS for the kids--the ones who ask for toys and believe in Santa and wanna sing "Rudolph" all day long. For the adult me, it seems like I could pick any old day to give or get cool gifts--preferably a day right after payday--and I sure wouldn't have every damned radio station playing nothing but xmas songs on that day, that's for sure. Maybe I'm just too old or cynical to enjoy xmas.

4. the over-commercialization/Walmartization of Christmas--Four out of the six radio stations I listen to decided to play xmas music 24/7 this year, starting at Thanxgiving--this really chapped my ass. I don't mind the occasional Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," or the Chipmunks' xmas song, or even the Carpenters' "Merry Christmas, Darling," as long as it's interspersed with normal programming. Instead, my ears are bombarded with "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" followed by some fake cowboy in a hat twanging his way through "Silent Night" followed by Celine Dion's over-the-top singing of -- well, anything she sings is over the top. Give me Adam Sandler's Hannukah Song followed by some classic rock, NOT one jeebus song after another with some hillbillies singing "The Twelve Days of Redneck Christmas" mixed in (I made that song up--but I'd be willing to take bets that there is something like it out there.) And xmas TV is no better, with constant ads showing adults giving each other cars or jewelry (in what universe!?) and cute kids getting sweatshop-labor-made crap from Walmart. Can't we just watch that "Law and Order" marathon in peace? Can't we go a day without hearing about doorbusters and Black Friday and xmas songs?

* * * *

I don't know. Maybe it's the winter blues, or the fact that I only had one friend in town this year for xmas, that made me write this post. But I know that each year, xmas gets a little less special for me.

Is the same true for you?


two crows said...

xmas hadn't been exciting for me for a long time. maybe that was one reason why giving up Xianity was easy for me [well, that and the Crusades].
in my family, it was always a contest to see who could make someone cry before breakfast.

as I grew up I learned how to deal with it: volunteer to cover xmas at work. my parents would argue about my choosing to spend it somewhere else-- but they wouldn't argue with work schedules.
so, what works for me, in my old age, is to treat it like any other day.
this year, though, a friend brought me dinner. that was such a lovely thought.

Liberality said...

yes. the only thing that brings xmas up for me is my determination to give generously to a needy family. otherwise, it is just more work for me in the long run. I get to do all the shopping and cooking and cleaning and it isn't any fun anymore. enough already! :)

CDP said...

It's special for me again with the kids, but in my early 30s, before I had them, I started to feel like this. I hope you have a better one next year!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think that being away from family has a lot to do with it. Even though I have a family of my own now, with our own traditions, I still miss being with my sisters and brother. Christmas is meant for a crowd.

FranIAm said...

Oh my Delia, this is a good post and I did not find it whiny, I think it is just true in many ways.

Barbara gets it right I think - Christmas is for a crowd. That part of it has nothing to do with baby jeebus (who you know I love), Walmart or those idiotic songs.

It does have to do with a day meant to be with others. It sounds like for you, the part with others wasn't bad, but it wasn't great and when it was over, blah.

I guess at the end of the day one has to decide what this all means to them and go from there. For me - I had probably the best Advent ever and Christmas was what it was. Now I do have a 12 y o, so that adds to the fun.

All in all this was a hard Christmas for many because of the times in which we live.

And give yourself a break my girl, you have been through a lot. It is day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas. Today I am giving you a very big hug and wishes for your life to unfold like a flower. Right now the bud is tight but it will bloom.

(ok if i have sounded like a complete asshat, feel free to tell me. i will subscribe to the comments.)

Randal Graves said...

You won't get any argument from me. Let's just cancel the thing.

Anonymous said...

I guess the best thing about the holidays is that they break up the routine. I love the break I get from work and all the kid stuff.

Yeah - that's pretty much it.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Christmas gets more special for me every year because I'm finally earning enough to give the people I love really fun gifts they actually enjoy.
It may sound corny, but Christmas for me highlights the art of giving, and that makes me feel good.

dguzman said...

Two Crows--yeah, maybe it's the whole baby jeebus thing that makes it no big deal. And your friend bringing you dinner does sound sweet!

Liberality--I cut out any shopping and cooking and all that; maybe I need to add the giving generously to a needy family in particular instead of just giving in general to charities.

CDP--yeah, having The Kid made it better; now it's just any other day.

Barbara--I think the family thing is probably the biggest one.

Fran--thanks for the hug! And you're right; spending it alone sucked.

DCup--I definitely don't mind the break from work, but I hate going back!