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!