Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Ruminations

It's snowing outside as I blog this. Appropriate, I suppose, considering Bing Crosby convinced me at an early age that I should should be dreaming of "a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know" (except, growing up here in Southern Oregon it never really snowed much on Christmas--not like in Bend, where I lived for a decade before moving back, where, by Christmas, it had already been snowing for 2 months and the prospect of shoveling the driveway just to get to the grocery store was not a dream so much as a nightmare, but, uh, anyway, I forget myself...). So, it's snowing and I'm ruminating on the holidays and thinking about what they mean to me. Not what they're supposed to mean--what they really mean to me. There are a couple of reasons for this:

a.) I've been facing a crisis of conscience regarding, what I see as, the rampant, unabashed consumerism that has engulfed the holiday and my own participation/revulsion in/at it.

b.) I've been facing the prospect of spending Christmas day alone.

First, the consumerism is unsustainable--it may not happen this year, next year, or even 10 years from now, but one of these days, in the not-too-distant-future, we will have successfully shopped ourselves out of a planet to live on. OK, I realize this isn't the jolliest of thoughts to be having on x-mas eve. In fact, I'm totally conflicted about it, and, therein, lies the problem. I'm not some Thoreuvian minimalist living in a cabin on a pond. I'm very capable of brief (and monumental) moments of economic insanity. And this, I guess, is my problem with Christmas--the obligation of it;the lack of spontaneity. Historically, what I want for myself, I purchase for myself. What I want from others and, hopefully, what I give to the people I care about, is love. Gifts are nice, don't get me wrong--it just seems so manufactured this time of year--so coerced. I was really going to protest the gift-giving thing this year and actually did with my biological family, as we (mutually) agreed not to exchange gifts (whew, fat man in a speeding sleigh dodged!) but then there's my other family--the friends I've chosen to share a household and a life with. Maybe I thought by taking a cross-country drive I could somehow avoid Christmas this year--my guilty feelings about being conflicted about it, the crowds at the stores, and, because I'm a bit challenged by it, wrapping presents. I came back from my trip, however, and damned if Christmas wasn't still happening--and there, under the tree, were gifts with my name on them. I talked to them about my feelings. I even pleaded my case but, in the end, I felt like Scrooge. I sucked it up and went out and tried to find gifts for them I know they will appreciate and use and, in that, it made me think about who they are and what they mean to me and, you know what? I realized that's really what this time (well, actually all times) should be about anyway--gratitude.

Second, the past few days (until today) I've been in a funk. Some of it, undoubtedly, was the above mentioned angst regarding the consumerism aspect of the holidays, but most of it, I think, was the fact that, for the first time in recent memory, I faced being totally alone on Christmas. I haven't talked to Nikki about her plans for the day (although we had a lovely evening watching "Elf" last night). I think it would feel strange to celebrate together (as we had for the past decade +) since we're now living apart. Cindy and Pete are off visiting family and, here I am, all alone (except for my dog, Poe). Even though I felt very little control over it, a part of me seemed to relish the "poor me" aspect--it seems so cliché; "alone at Christmas." How Dickensian of me--please, mister, all I need is a crutch. Well, today, my gratitude met my reality--that I have a number of options on Christmas to spend time with family and friends--should I choose them. Since I've ended my little pity-party (table for one), I've decided to embrace the day. Sleep in or have breakfast at my cousin's house? My choice. As is the choice to have Christmas dinner with my beautiful friends, Annie and Jeff, at Annie's mom's house (I think I'll take them up on it, however,--not to assuage any feelings of loneliness, but to have a great time with some of the most wonderful people I know). Tomorrow night I may call another friend, who is also facing being alone on x-mas (although she's not nearly as angsty as I was about the prospect), and see if she wants to hang out, drink some wine, and watch a movie. Alone and lonely are not the same thing--hopefully the past few days have taught me the difference. And now, oddly (and finally), I can't wait to celebrate a belated Christmas with Nikki, Cindy, and Pete (after they return from their trip)--not so much to open gifts, but to tell them how important they are to me.

Too schmaltzy? TOUGH! Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year, oh, screw it, HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Peace on earth, yada, yada...and, for Christ's sake, go tell someone you love them--do it right now, before you forget...

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