Do the holidays make anyone happy?
I often feel myself lost in a wash of melancholy this time of year. Dark descends early. Important events wind down to a close. Priorities shift and I have little control over what falls down someone else's list. And to the ending of things, we add the stress of trying to get everyone in the same place at the same time, often competing against other just as relevant interests (or relatives as the case usually is for me).
I struggle to help makes lists that will not overwhelm my children with useless stuff and I strain to think of an adequate gift for a parent who already has everything. And we've cut WAY down. My Christmas tree has only been up for a few days. We've finished one gathering, done early so everyone could attend. I really don't have all that much to take care of. Yet I feel this overwhelming sense of sadness, nostalgia for the way Christmas shone in the idealized memories of my childhood.
Families intact. Unawareness of suffering. Childhood bliss. But I'm all grown up now. And I watch the struggle. A mom with no transportation, no money for gifts, and no support from her family. A man who doesn't feel accepted by his family, no matter what he does, and who faces a holiday spent lonely and grieving. Family facing the first holiday without a loved one. These things stay with us all year long. But somehow the holiday season seems to exacerbate the pain, lighting it from within like a gaudy tree glaring with harsh lights. In the gentler light of ordinary days, troubles come and go, but in the glow of the Christmas lights, they blaze for everyone around to see.
I will enjoy aspects of the season, I almost always do. But being true to myself means admitting I don't enjoy some, okay maybe a lot of things about it. All is not merry and bright. Sometimes the snow covers a dirty, icy patch of muddy muck and if you look closely, you can see past the illusion of perfection to what is really real.