I gotta tell you I’m not exactly in love with holiday season. I’m sure you’re not exactly surprised to hear that.
I’ve been doing emotional work regarding my family of origin for quite some time, years even, but never as intensively as I have this year. That has been for a few reasons. Mostly, it’s been because I’m tired of dragging around other people’s funkiness (as my newfound guide at Onsite calls it) and I would very much like to identify what belongs solely to me so that I can travel through this world a bit more (okay, a lot more) lightly.
I’ve never been under the impression that my specific circumstances were special or extraordinary. Everyone has at least a tugboat of childhood (and beyond) stuff to haul around, and usually the requisite barge behind it. All that pulling gets tiring. I’m exhausted from it and want to unhook myself, and am trying to actively do just that. It isn’t easy to undo the chains, the bonds, the ties, whatever you want to call them. Most of us are sentimental and don’t know how to say goodbye to it all, even if we know we need to. We’re at least creatures of habit who’d rather do anything but change, again, even if we know we need to. But what we don’t let go of eventually sinks us no matter how strong we are. And what we aren’t aware and super wary of, we repeat.
Nothing stirs it all up like holidays. We get to hook all of our baggage together! Stack it up in a nice big pile and such to trip over and ignore. We return easily to ingrained patterns if we decide to go the family route. If we choose to create our own traditions, aren’t we in danger of pitching a turd into the punch bowl of life (Hi – have we met)? It’s sort of damned if you do and damned if you don’t for me, it seems. I hate ignoring elephants that have gotten inside the house but also don’t desire upsetting anyone because I don’t want to act like it’s all fine when it’s not. I work hard at doing my own thing and at standing up for it, but have yet to escape the guilt that is served up like a heavy, double helping of cornbread dressing, in return for my stabs at individuation. It occurs to me that maybe I’m just not a traditionalist. I prefer to have brunch and go to the movies on both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day if my son isn’t with me. Maybe I long too much for what I never really had, and if I did have it, it certainly wasn’t for very long, and I don’t know how to really deal with and accept the grief I feel about my truncated childhood and devastated, decimated* family. Regardless, these days can be tough. But they roll around every year no matter what. And for that reason, I do try to make the best of them. A grinch I am not.
I think I’m looking for some real meaning in it all, not just a list of things that we do because they’re just what we always do and no one really understands why. I don’t want a menu that must be repeated year after year, because I guess I don’t exactly find comfort in the old. That’s precisely what I’m trying not to do – repeat the old. The old isn’t always great, or even good. Sometimes it’s time to be finished futzing with it and get on to making something new.
Whatever your situation this holiday season, take it easy on yourself. It’s alright to feel agitated, irritated, lonely, and sad if you in fact do. In all honesty, I often feel those things in spades. I’m going to try to remember to take a minute when I need to – to take a deep breath while I try to remember we’re all just passing through here. There will come a year, sooner than I’d like it to, when someone will be missing that wasn’t from the one before. I know I’ll never see holiday season 2018 again. So I’m going to try to enjoy it the best I can, and do it without feeling weighed down, as close to in my own unique way as I’m allowed, and with love and patience for us all. Mostly for myself. And I hope the only funkiness I’m dragging around is James Brown’s Christmas record.
Happy Tuesday, y’all.
PS – sorry I’m a day late. I’ll post about that when I’m ready. There is, however, a clue embedded in this one.
PSS – we’re getting ready to decorate the house in preparation for it all.
*yes, I do know the definition of decimated.