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.
12/20/2015 11:00:05 am
Dear Jenn, Thank you ! And trust me, you are not alone!
12/20/2015 11:15:51 am
I had an idea I wouldn't be. Big hugs and lotsa coffee to you, Donna. Happy almost end of the year and start of a new one! lol
12/20/2015 11:03:39 am
I try and do what is best for me as i spent Thanksgiving away from family and it was wonderful ! CHrsimtas i will have to put up with family drama, but i never stay all day and this year I am going to run before the drama. For me, for my health (physical and emotionally) I will run. The greatest gift i can give (and receive) is time with friends. That means more than any store bough gift every could. Peace to one and all.
12/20/2015 11:16:44 am
I consider the gift of your friendship a bright, shiny light this Christmas! I am so proud of you taking care of you!! High five my friend. Lotsa love for you.
12/20/2015 11:58:48 am
I am in the same boat. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I thought maybe it was because my kids are older but I know now it's not. It's me and I, too, am searching. Thank you for putting into words what I could not.
12/20/2015 01:12:23 pm
You know, as I was writing this I wondered if it would anger people. I wrote it anyway because I felt in my gut it needed to be said and after reading through all these comments on here and the Facebook Page, I am happy I listened to that gut instinct. You are not alone. Thank you for reading and taking the time to chime in. It's appreciated.
12/20/2015 12:10:49 pm
Not feeling it myself either this year. Although my parents have been gone a while - as in this isn't my first year of a Christmas without them - I am really missing them and what Christmas was with them. Someone said, do for others what they did for you...but all I want is for them to be here & do it for me again. To see them, to be in their warm & full kitchen - a kitchen overflowing with all the food that they would make; a kitchen filled with love & laughter; to sit around the table afterwards just talking about everything & nothing at all. I have spent days just crying - and I have 2 lovely boys who I love dearly but I just can't seem to fake it for them...maybe because we are past the Santa times. I don't know what it is, maybe there's some moon cycle or something this year...I will just continue to do the best that I can and call it good enough for this year...
12/20/2015 01:17:20 pm
I feel this comment very much, Terry. I have lost all of my family over the past few years and with just a sister left it definitely adds to my lack of spirit. I do carry forth a few traditions in their honor. Like wrapping some presents with duct tape and sending someone on a present treasure hunt but the rest lay in my memories.
1/5/2016 12:55:01 am
Big hugs & love back to you lady! There are many days in which you have touched my soul & I so appreciate you & your blog.
1/15/2016 12:27:10 pm
Whao. That was so well put it brought tears 😭 to my eyes 👀
12/20/2015 12:23:23 pm
Exactly. For the last 3 years. Kids are grown, no family close, major medical issues. The sparkle is gone.
12/20/2015 01:18:58 pm
This whole adulting thing isn't nearly as magical and glamorous as I had anticipated growing up. Sigh.
12/20/2015 01:14:42 pm
Nope not alone, haven't bought one present yet 12.20th
12/20/2015 03:51:18 pm
I literally just started myself. Good luck :)
12/20/2015 02:53:56 pm
You are not alone, this year it seems that all I speak to are just looking for the year to end and not for Christmas in particular. As a child, I grew up that the nativity was put up the first Sunday in Advent and the tree was put up the Sunday before Christmas.
12/20/2015 03:54:33 pm
You know, maybe, just maybe, if more people started looking at it differently the whole holiday may evolve once again into something meaningful. I'd like to think that's possible.
12/20/2015 07:26:44 pm
Thank you for your insight! I greatly appreciate it!
12/20/2015 04:08:37 pm
Maybe it isn't only you that has changed, but our society and how it "celebrates" the holiday. A long time ago, as some of us older ones know, it was about loving and sharing ourselves with each other. Gifts were ok, but "home made" gifts were the best in my family. You put something of yourself in to it. Sharing a meal, telling stories, telling each other what we like about them all worked to bring us happiness. People today are often surprised when they realize how good it feels to help another, to give of themselves.
12/20/2015 09:32:03 pm
I love this, David! Thank you. Very much inline with my thoughts on what's missing from the holidays. I love doing for others all year long and having that togetherness as much as possible.
1/5/2016 12:52:48 am
I think you're on to something David. One Christmas that stand out to me is the one in which I brought a woman that I worked with & her 2 little girls out to see all sorts of Christmas lights. She was a single mom and hadn't had a car in a long while so the girls hadn't seen lights in years. Those two little girls were so happy that it made my whole Christmas so much brighter....then, although they did not have much each of those little girls gave me something from their possessions to thank me for the experience. It makes me smile still to know how happy I was able to make them with something that to me seemed such a small, simple act. :)
12/20/2015 04:46:19 pm
Jenn, this year for the first time in eons, I've my whole fam visiting. 10 people sitting around the table on Christmas day. (+ two excitable fur babies!). I'm feeling stressed about how it will all go. I should be grateful that they're all making the effort to travel to be with me... I hope that both you and I and others get that old spirit back and enjoy the time we have left with all of our loved ones. Christmas changes over the years as our children grow. The world has changed irretrievably. We need to show the naysayers that we care about each other and hopefully it's not all about gifts. I've determined to find a way to celebrate humanity: to look for those who have no-one or no-where to go and give them at least a smile and a kind word. I hope your Christmas holidays will bring you joy, love and peace. I value your writings and thoughts... thankyou!
12/20/2015 09:37:47 pm
This really helped me so much. Thank you so much for your honesty and the honest comments from the other readers. I really was feeling like I was flawed this year as well. For me it's been a few years of decline. I'm feeling a little better now that I'm remembering sweet times with the kids and when I was little. Great post.
12/20/2015 09:33:47 pm
12/20/2015 07:28:46 pm
Merry Christmas and may 2016 be a wonderful New Year!
12/20/2015 09:29:25 pm
Merry Christmas, Sandy!! Bright, blessed New Years, too!
12/21/2015 10:58:47 am
Thank you for writing this :) You helped put into words how I am feeling.
12/21/2015 02:05:03 pm
From one Jen to another.... you have been running around inside my head again....Had the sparkle for a day or two when I put the tree up and it came out perfect....1st try... then **poof** gone... definately in that "why bother?", "does it really matter" mode... cant even wrap my head around what I want to make for dinner...
12/21/2015 03:08:40 pm
12/26/2015 02:11:46 pm
I Feel and have been seeing it all over.The look in people's eyes.
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