Christmas: The Altered Reality

We try so hard every year, and every year we become exhausted, stressed, and depressed in a futile effort to make this the Best Christmas Ever.  Why?!  Why do we insist on working music to death from October to Christmas Eve?  Why do we spend hours, days even, in the kitchen making favorite dishes for family we see exactly once a year?  Why do we struggle and curse in the traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) at the malls and department stores to find yet another something that will most likely land in a pile in a closet somewhere?  Our Christmas is not a holiday to be celebrated, but rather a labor akin to something Achilles was rumored to have endured.  Or, at least, mine isn’t.  And, I know I’m not the only one.

My choir director, while displaying some cheerful notion about the glory of music, wishes desperately that it would all go away.  Same with Easter for that matter.  My mother rearranges her entire home in a desperate attempt to fit 24 people into a space designed for about 10 or 12 in the hopes that we can all eat together, all so that her own mother is not disappointed, and she certainly would love nothing more than to have it all go away.  For two solid weeks, my mother-in-law details all the things she works on to get ready for a Christmas Eve event that disappears in the blink of an eye once the clock strikes midnight.

All of this is done because we believe in some vain notion of Christmas spirit, in holiday tradition, in the eternal glory of the ideal Christmas.  And yet, behind the scenes, we find that the anxiety, the exhaustion, the desire to have it all dissipate into the ether is the real Christmas.  It’s not candlelight and carols; it’s not brotherhood of mankind.  It’s all a sham, regardless of how many times you’ve seen A Christmas Carol.  Call me Ebenezer if you like, but I’m done with Christmas.  I’ve sung all I’m going to sing.  If I want to eat with family, I’ll do it on my own terms in my own home.

Still, I’m sure that we’ll do it all again next season, forgetting all the pain and ridiculous hoops we went through to get this point.  We’ll chop down another tree, set the kitchen in motion, welcome basic strangers into our home, all in the hopes of the ideal Christmas…all the while knowing that it doesn’t exist.

See you in the funny papers!

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4 thoughts on “Christmas: The Altered Reality

  1. Hey Bro- We laughed at your post about the ridiculous xmas traditions….however, tafkaa’s image of you and your eternal optimism were shattered. She really needs to believe that someone in the world, YOU, can find happiness whenever and wherever you are are, regardless of the situation, time of year, or family obligations. It is her belief, that this time next year, you will have a completely different perspective on these notions of the best holiday ever and making sure that all things fall into place, with drastic efforts taken for weeks in advance to assure this. You will, with little bambino in a perfect state of bliss, regardless of time and day or holiday, go to great lengths to assure baby’s first christmas is absolutely magnificent, and in doing this, will fully understand why and how these traditions were begun in the first place. For you!!!! And ME!!! So, we did have a magnificent christmas day relaxing, snowshoeing, hanging out drinking good beers and playing cranium with our neighbor friends, but, we definitely missed you and C. and both our families’ and the traditions of each. We told stories of her family’s and mine, we talked about what we thought people were doing right now, and, though not dealing with chaos, pleasing others, and running around crazy all day, there was a part of both of us that wanted to be back there in the middle of it all. We missed you and thought about you lots!

  2. I love the holidays, but that’s because I’ve made my own traditions and largely skipped the drudgery — I don’t “have to” do anything that I don’t honestly want to do. And I agree that once you have your behbeh, things will change — but I disagree as to the WAY they will change. Specifically: The sudden, complete, and radical shift in your perspective once the baby is born (it was painless, this shift, but sort of shocking in its totality) comes with a realization that the entire paradigm has changed, for the holidays and for all interactions with family, work, hobbies, etc. YOU are in charge now, you and your wife, and will make all decisions in re: how your little family spends time. Next year, if it feels right, you can ditch what you formerly saw as unbreakable obligations; you can start new traditions or reinterpret old ones; you can stay home, go to be with the extended fam, or abscond with the baby to New Zealand for a week; you can make it be anything you want. The joy will come back because whole new rooms are opened in your life, rooms you didn’t even know were there, and you can merrily skip past the old ones that no longer hold meaning for you.

  3. Salsa Verde, I’m glad you and TAKFAA had a good laugh. Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I post is to give people a good laugh, but there is always the hint of truth in my posts. I haven’t enjoyed a Christmas in about 15 years or more. I’m certain that if all I had to do was show up, it would be much more enjoyable. But Christmas, partly because of the church job, starts much earlier for me, and by December I’m tired of it. Plus, add in the birthdays and the mall traffic and the 38 versions of Santa Baby…it all becomes too much. I will, for TAFKAA’s sake, try to be a little more optimistic once little Filene Hortense gets here.

    Gleemonex, I hope you’re right. Still, because I get paid to engage in certain drudgery, it’s a little more complicated. But I do anticipate there being moments that we can “play the baby card” and not do certain things. Even as a couple, we’ve altered certain traditions that were formerly set in stone…which for me, has been life-saving at times. So, I suppose, check back in with me in early December 2009 to see how it’s going.

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