Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Season Meditations

I blame the retail community for making us all feel like freaks. How many times have you heard someone say, "I just don't feel like I have the holiday spirit..." as if they think there's something wrong with them! The end of year "holiday season" exists for a reason. It's because of the pattern of the days getting shorter and shorter and the weather getting colder and colder and--back in the days when people lived in isolated agricultural communities--the food stores diminishing day by day, spring seeming so far away, let alone the fall harvest. Just because KMart has the Christmas decorations on the shelves on November 1, that doesn't mean it's time to feel festive. Here's the actual, natural way you should feel:

Up until Thanksgiving: normal

Thanksgiving - December 1: guilty for eating too much, slightly fearful that the Thanksgiving feast was the starter pistol for an entire month of gluttony and sloth.

December 1 - 5: mild malaise, puzzlement about why (it's because the days are getting shorter)

December 6 - 10: deepening gloom, partly as a reaction to the (inappropriate) holiday decorations that are springing up everywhere

December 11 - 15: hysterical despair, arriving with the realization that you will never live up to your own or anyone else's expectations of what you're supposed to get done over the holidays: in addition to all your normal activities, which were keeping you sufficiently busy the rest of the year, there's shopping, wrapping, mailing and delivering presents; decorating the house; putting up the tree; holiday baking; additional social activities; the school program; the special church services; the company party; travel to visit family, hosting guests, and on and on. It is natural to panic at this point, because in fact you can never live up to the ideal in your mind.

December 16 - 21: Resignation and vacillation between moments of enjoyment (the lights are so pretty, the tree reminds you of happy childhood memories) and realism (the days are still getting shorter; will spring ever come?)

December 22 - January 1: frenetic attempts to revive the will to live--Party! Pray! Eat, drink, be merry!

January 2 - 5: Relief that the season is over, resolve to do better in the new year (the days are getting longer again! Whew!)

January 6 - 15: Return to normal routine

January 31: Exhausted happiness

So today is, what, December 14? Let me check my calendar. Yep, hysterical despair, I'm right on schedule.

Seriously, folks, let's not take this all to heart: do what you can, do what you feel like doing. For the rest, as a former co-worker liked to say, "Don't torture yourself."

I wish you a very
Merry Christmas
Happy Chanukah
Happy New Year
Blessed Kwanzaa
a Winter Solstice to Remember.
And most of all: