Christmas was a magical, wonderful, joyful thing to me, once. For the past few years it has grown into something completely different. Nothing to do with the fact my Dad died two years ago on Christmas day. (I love and miss him terribly, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not why I hate Christmas. If he died on June 17th I wouldn’t walk around in May saying “God, I hate June 17th.”)
This year’s Christmas has been the worst. Cringing at Christmas lights in storefronts, gnawing my teeth at the wretched carol’s blasting over every PA system in the Chicagoland area. All that hate and dread for the past weeks and here I am – sitting alone at 5:30am, on Christmas Day. I woke up today and thought “Is it over yet?”
Since my birthday is December 14th, I don’t consider it officially Christmas season until the 15th. So for the past two weeks I’ve carefully and strategically watched classic holiday themed movies in hopes of jump starting some holiday cheer. Holding out for the big gun: “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve.
As I got through the majority of the classic picture, I realized 2 things: 1) The movie itself has nothing to do with Christmas apart from the happy ending being set in front of a Christmas tree. 2) Christmas 2012 is not my ideal Christmas… but 2013,4,5,6,7,8… could be.
I loved the holiday most as a child because it was warm, cozy and there were tons and tons of presents, food, laughter, eggnog, matching pajamas – you name it and we had it. Being the youngest child, grown, Christmas turned in to a holiday dinner with family, a gift exchange and champagne. That’s great, but it’s a different feel.
I like a child’s Christmas. I don’t like the incessant need to HAVE WANT NEED anything. Going broke isn’t worth the hassle, or the excitement. Kids are kids and will get excited about something in budget, if they know how to value what they already have so that whatever is added is truly a bonus.
This year my family gave me a computer. Which I love. And needed. And am currently using to do what I love most – write. However. it’s not the same as running down the stairs in the morning in a onesie, practically tripping over my brother and trampling the parents to get to the stockings. Right after Mom finished baking her famous coffee cake in a perfectly [tacky] holiday print dress. [Sorry Mom]
What got me through today is knowing that this is just one year. I’ve spent Christmas’ at the front desk, I’ve spent 2 in an airport, and one walking around London looking for an open restaurant. Being alone on Christmas can be really really awful. It’s not about the presents. It’s about the warm feeling you get inside – which is from being surrounded by people you love. So I’m not surrounded by people I love. I’m surrounded by a messy room and an even messier apartment.
I hate to be the bah humbug in anyone’s anything. I especially don’t like when people tell me how I should feel or what I should be thankful for. Especially from people who have what I don’t have. I know I have things that others want and don’t have – like complete freedom. A part of me though, has always wanted something to tie me down somewhere.
Ideally in a few years, a few Christmas’ down the line, I’ll be in my kitchen with my mother baking for my hyper active children barreling down the stairs. My loving husband will be in the living room opening his new toy Santa snuck in while he fell asleep setting up our daughter’s doll house. I’ll have a home and we’ll have roots.
However, Christmas 2012, I have no roots. My immediate is together in New York and I am here, alone in Chicago. Partly by choice and partly by financial planning and work scheduling. So I guess my gift from Santa this year is freedom. Rootless and able to do and be as I please. Today the streets will be empty. Perhaps I’ll have an adventure. I’ll smile and wish a Merry Christmas to anyone I may pass on the streets. My pledge to myself is not to worry about finding a job, scraping together rent or bill money for January but just to enjoy being with myself today.
The only advice I have for a person that hates to see someone dislike the holidays is just to ease up on them. Christmas is not a stupid movie where everything turns out exactly as it should and miracles fill the homes of those in need. It’s a tough day for a lot of people, for SO many different reasons. But it is just one day. Then tomorrow we’ll all be equals again. Some with new toys, but most with the same muddled excitement for resolutions, top 10 lists and going back to the grind for 12 more months.