Tis the Season

The holidays are a mixed bag of emotions for me. I want to embrace the holiday spirit, but I find myself frustrated and anxious. This feeling starts on Black Friday and for the next 20 days or so after Thanksgiving, I intentionally avoid all things Christmas if I possibly can. All the while I try to keep this disdain for the season a secret to the family and friends around me. I go through the motions of shopping for and buying the Christmas tree, lugging it home and setting it up. After the traditional argument about whether the tree is straight in the stand, I retreat to quietly watch TV, read or surf the internet as the tree is magically decorated and garlands and lights appear inside and out of the house.

I begrudging accompany my wife on trips to the mall and outlying stores. I try not to complain that we have to park in a different county and walk miles to the mall. At least the mall provides some shelter to the cold freezing rain on the dreary December day. My biggest complaint with the mall is not the mall at all, but the aimless souls who wander around with no apparent sense of purpose or situational awareness. They move in a “trance like” fashion, totally unaware of their effect on the people or environment around them. It seems like a world full of drones, summoned by some unknown power to congregate in this indoor world filled with red, green and gold.

In the mall I can only function if I am given an assignment to find a specific item, the focus of the mission being the only thing that saves my sanity. Browsing for unknown items only serves to magnify my uneasiness with the entire process of Christmas shopping. Outwardly I try to portray the “glass half full” attitude that I honestly possess the other eleven months out of the year, but inwardly I long to retreat to the comfort of my living room.

I am not happy about these mixed emotions. I am not sure exactly where they come from. My Mother, god rest her soul, was absolutely thrilled during the holiday season each year. I think she lived in a different world than we do, and Christmas was a different sort of holiday. Hers was the last generation to experience the holiday as it was meant to be, a time of simple joy of family and friends, a celebration of a religious holiday. My Mother passed away ten years ago, and she certainly witnessed the evolution of the holiday in our society from what she grew up with. It is now a commercial bonanza in a media blitzed world. She grew up in a time when the only commercialization of Christmas were the decorations and the Santa Claus at the downtown Hudson Belk store.

Maybe my generation is the lost Christmas generation. We still have the ghosts of Christmas past deep within our psyche. It is left over from our childhood and passed along to us by our parents. My children are all young adults and they have had their impression of Christmas and the holidays shaped disproportionately by outside unfluence, a world controlled by electronic media that grows exponentially from year to year. They seem to embrace it, while I grow more and more uncomfortable with the whole season.

I try to keep up a happy face, but honestly I just wish the month would pass and we could get on with the business of enduring the winter and waiting for spring. It is not until late in the day on Christmas eve that I begin to shed these anxieties and begin to enjoy the holiday in the way that I remember it, my Mother’s sort of Christmas, one without stress, anxiety and commercialization. For a brief moment in time, I can enjoy the holiday for what it is supposed to be, a time of family, joy and peace on earth.

My Christmas wish for all is that you can overcome your own holiday anxieties and enjoy the season in a way that fills your heart with love, peace and joy.

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