You guys. I have to confess something. It may not be a surprise to some people, but I am finally coming to terms with it and I feel the need to share.
That’s right. I have an irrational fear of Christmas. Well, not a fear exactly. More like a mild aversion. I feel like the six weeks before Christmas are one long gas-lighting session where I’m constantly being told to smile and be merry. And the more I resist, the more I feel as though I’m letting people down.
Don’t get me wrong – I bake cookies, decorate, and buy gifts. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m actually a very thoughtful and intuitive gifter and I make chocolate crinkle cookies that are so good you’d sell your own grandmother to get more. I go to the Christmas parties and play Secret Santa. I give to the Mission, I put an extra can or two into the Food Bank Collection bin, and I help with Christmas dinner. I’ve even worn an ugly Christmas sweater that I made with my own little hands.
In short, I’ll do all the “stuff” that comes with Christmas, but don’t keep telling me to smile if I don’t want to or your gift might be a punch in the throat. There is nothing that makes me less full of good cheer than being told to smile. Why do we have to be happy all the time just because it’s Christmas? I don’t walk around smiling like a lobotmized idiot the whole rest of the year, and I won’t do it now. I don’t tell cheerful people to frown, and I don’t think that most people would prefer me to smile knowing I was faking it.
I loved Christmas as a kid. Two weeks off school, presents, cookies and candy? Decorating the tree? Lots of visiting and then a big turkey dinner? As an adult I realize that the greatest thing about Christmas as a kid was that I wasn’t responsible for anything. I didn’t buy the gifts or wrap the gifts or assemble the tree or cook the meal or drive the car through six inches of slush to get to the next party while the kids whined and shrieked in the back seat. As an adult the curtain has been pulled back and the true nature of “Christmas Magic” has been revealed. I see that Christmas dinner is delicious, but someone has to do the dishes at the end of the meal. I see that a stack of gifts is exciting but I also see a living room full of shredded paper to be picked up. And that tree…dammit, that tree takes up a lot of space.
I also see that Christmas is not always filled with joy and laughter. For many people, Christmas is a stark reminder of what they don’t have. People donate to charity in the spirit of Christmas and then proceed to not give a fuck for the entire rest of the year. Christmas is full of crowded parking lots and honking cars and shoppers stepping on each other to get to the year’s biggest toys. It is busy and exhausting and overscheduled. And I suck rocks at sending Christmas cards.
I know, I sound like the grinchiest of grinches. Maybe I am. I want Nina to have good memories of Christmas so I’m working on living more in the moment and enjoying more of the good things about Christmas. In the meantime do me a solid and stop telling me to smile. 🙂