Just because you’ve always done something, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It’s just makes it the thing you’ve always done. Like drinking coffee in the morning. I always do that. My day would get thrown off if I didn’t. Do I stop and ask myself why am I pouring this cup of coffee? No.
I am not feeling Christmas this year.
Okay, in all honesty, I haven't really felt it for the past few years, I just can't seem to muster up the energy to fake it this year. Seriously, I've tried. I even listened to holiday music. Granted it was only for about 35 seconds before the nope, can't handle it came over me and I changed it to the sultry voice of Adele, but the initial effort had been a genuine attempt at getting some holiday spirit.
As did driving home the other night looking at the colorful decorations people have adorned their homes and yards with. While part of me admired the thought that went into their festive designs with the bright, beautiful colors and fun lawn ornaments and some seriously made me ooh and ahh at how beautiful it all came together, I still arrived home not feeling a smidge of Christmas joy stir in my belly.
I started to think I was broken or something. Who hates Christmas? Was I turning into a Grinch in my old age? Was I focusing too much on my work and responsibilities? Had I completely lost touch with my inner child, who used to delight in the lights, anticipation and magic around the holiday? Had I actually become this jaded, coffee drinking writer who was too tired to even fake it? Was it because almost all of my family is gone now and there are no youngsters with their wide-eyed adoration of all things Christmas in my world?
Have I turned into a Scrooge?
Honestly, it's really been bothering me the past few weeks. I lose myself in the magic of life all the time. During my travels of the day to day; by watching the shapes of the clouds floating by, the light of the moon reflecting on the ocean waves, within the wizened old faces of my elders as they tell me their stories, the random giggles that overcome me while walking through the grocery store. I get inspired by strangers and fragments of overheard conversations that wiggle into my consciousness and send me off on random thought adventures in my mind. I look for, and more often than not find, magic in the most everyday moments and places. Why can’t I find it within the holidays?
It all just seems so forced. Like there is some unwritten rule somewhere that we have to participate in a holiday because that’s what we’ve always done.
I sat for a while the other day, watching holiday shoppers at the local mall. Not one of them looked like they were actually enjoying the act of buying presents. They all looked exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. No one looked jolly and happy. No one radiated Christmas spirit. I had to wonder if maybe I wasn’t the only one not feeling it. I sat next to a woman, a mom from the looks of it, locked in a private hell of not being able to afford the latest gadgets her teenage son was expecting. Her heart was broken at the thought of disappointing him. My heart broke for her. But, I had to wonder how the latest gadget had become the symbol of love and family. Why must we feel like failures if we can’t afford to buy something for a loved one when we can give freely of the gifts of time and love?
We do it because we’ve always done it.
But have we ever stopped and actually questioned why we are doing it? Have we ever allowed ourselves to stop and look at our motives? Religious views aside here. I am thinking of the other side, the more secular side of the holiday season.
Just because you’ve always done something, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It’s just makes it the thing you’ve always done. Like drinking coffee in the morning. I always do that. My day would get thrown off if I didn’t. Do I stop and ask myself why am I pouring this cup of coffee? No. I just pour it. Do I stop and appreciate the smell, the magical steam that arises from my mug or how I can feel the synapses fire up in my brain? Yes, because it resonates within my soul and this is why I still drink it every day. However, if all of a sudden I didn’t like the taste any more or it just wasn't working for me- you can damn well bet I would question why.
The holidays are the same thing, and that is the exact question I had rolling around in my mind while driving home from Christmas shopping the other night. Why am I doing this? Does any of this really matter? What makes this year so much different from years past?
Then it hit me. This year and the trappings of the holidays hadn’t changed; I had. I had changed on such a deep level that I no longer had any interest in faking anything that held no meaning for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t search for new meanings or deeper appreciation for anything. It just means I question why I am doing something that just feels wrong inside my soul, and then I ask myself what I can do to bring more authenticity to something I once thought to be magical, but that had lost all enchantment for me.
My lacking holiday spirit wasn’t a sign that I had gone over to the dark side, I figured out with relief. It was a sign that I was actually living my truths and that one of those truths was in not doing something that I had always done, that no longer felt right within, without asking myself the uncomfortable questions of why and how come. I may not particularly like the answers that come forth. But, those answers will lead to more searching, and more searching often leads to greater revelations and understanding that give birth to ideas and what ifs. What if instead of buying this, I made that. What would happen if we did this instead of that? What would give the holidays meaning again? Do they even have to mean anything to me? Do I need to participate or can Christmas just be a day off with my family to do something together that doesn’t require store bought memories but memories we make together?
If I challenge the status quo throughout the rest of the year, why is it so hard to do the same around the holidays?
I have arrived at a place that if I am going to do anything in life, it has to have meaning. If it doesn’t have meaning, why do it? Because it’s expected? Not a good reason. Because everyone else is doing it? An even worse reason. Because I’ve always done it? A lazy reason. Because it’s uncomfortable to admit that Christmas time just doesn’t feel authentic anymore? An honest, albeit vexatious, reason.
The truth of the matter is I really don’t know what to do about it right now. I know just because I am in this place doesn’t mean anyone else is. It doesn’t mean I won’t wish people Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. It doesn’t mean I won’t search for the perfect present for someone I love or that I will rob anyone else of their joy. I will laugh and celebrate with my loved ones. I will wrap their presents in brightly colored paper and buy things for my nephews that will drive their parents crazy, like whoopee cushions and silly string because their laughter is worth the eye rolls I shall get. However, throughout all of it, I will look for ways to make it magical again. I will search for what resonates within my soul.
I will search for meaning and ways to make it matter.
Maybe I shall find something, maybe I won’t. It is what it is. There is so much pressure around this time of year, and it seriously robs the holiday of what really matters. If we don’t stop and assess ourselves, our actions and the “why” of what we are doing, the letdown afterward can be excruciating. We feel like failures. We feel like nothing mattered. And on some level we would be right, we did a lot that didn’t matter and lost sight of everything that should have.
Just know that if you are not feelin’ it this year - you are not alone. Doesn’t make you a bad person. Doesn’t make you a Scrooge or Grinch. It simply means we are all in different places in life and things and priorities change. Try to discover new meanings or don’t. But live within your truths. Doing it because it’s expected or because you’re worried about what others would think is definitely not the reason for the season.
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