Ahhh Christmas is coming. Like a speeding train approaches so does the rush of the holiday season. And you know what? I'm not all that fond of it.
Shopping for people seems to be just a bother. Having the social pressure of finding the 'perfect gift', wrapping it, and waiting in anticipation for that person to open it up is just too much pressure. Many times I've hit the nail on the head and managed to find just the right thing for someone, and equally I have looked at the disappointment on the person's face as they didn't get what they were hoping for when they open my gift.
Malls are horrendous. Absolutely awful. Full of grumpy people shopping for gifts, complaining about the service, griping about the cost, tired kids in tow. Loud, whiny, tired kids. Everything is picked over, messed up, missing, or overpriced as I shop for things I need for daily living. If I didn't need toilet paper or bread you bet your bottom I'd steer clear of any store for the entire month of December.
There is absolutely nowhere outside of my house that I can lay my eyes and not see some kind of reminder of Christmas. Decorations, lights, trees, shiny balls, candy canes, and Santa. It's like the whole city participates in this holiday and where some people like it, I don't. I would rather Christmas just slipped under the radar and was a minor holiday instead of a major one.
I used to look forward to Christmas - especially family gatherings. I used to love cooking a meal, figuring out appetizers, baking for weeks ahead, or bringing something I made to someone else's dinner. We would play board games or Rummoli (the only card game I remember) until wee hours of the night. There would be laughing and fun. Somewhere along the way that kind of disappeared. Not right away and not so I noticed year to year, but as I got older the gatherings became less fun. Because of my mom's mental illnesses? Maybe. Because my mom drove larger wedges between my sisters and I? Probably. Because my sisters and I grew up and became just as controlling as my mom? Maybe. Because I realized slowly that I was tired of being someone that other people wanted me to be instead of who I felt I was? Most likely. Whatever the cause it was evident that I began dreading the get-togethers as much as I always dreaded my ex's family gatherings.
Maybe I have developed my grumpy attitude as a result of my parent's deaths. My mom died on 02 December and my dad on 13 February, placing Christmas right in the damn middle. And while the pressure to make everything 'right' according to my mom's unspoken expectations of my behaviour or hosting skills is mostly gone, I think the Ghost of Christmases Ruined has tainted the future holidays in ways I can't quite put my finger on. This year will be the first year in my lifetime that I will spend with just my family unit. No out-of-town visitors, no family gathering, no in-laws visits or gatherings. And I keep having to remind myself of that blissful thought. The day can slip by just like any other. I don't have to be 'on' for anybody. I don't have to shop for a single gift (boys already know what they will receive - one big thing each, S and I are not exchanging gifts). I don't have to leave my house to be sociable to visitors to the city or family meals. I don't have to spend my day preparing a meal unless I want to - not because I have people coming over.
For the first time since I started my job eight years ago I will have Shutdown all to myself. I've cut myself off from the two friends I had (I realized I felt bad about myself when I was around them, that's not a friendship to me, not any more), my sisters aren't coming in to the city during my time off work, my parents are dead, and S's parents will stay in their city. I can park myself in front of the computer and scroll through Memecenter for hours if I want. Or watch endless trailers on IMDB. Or watch movies that I know nobody in this house is interested in seeing. Or read until my eyes are sore and dry. Or do my puzzle with every scrap of good daylight available to me. Or curl up on the couch and stare at the paint on the wall.
My only nod to Christmas is the tree I put up in my living room. And even then, it kept falling over so I clumped the decorations on one branch like a nest of mini balls, and put the larger balls on the bottom to keep it steady. It's kind of funny, but also representative of my attitude: look, a tree. It's up. I decorated it. Can I take it down now?
While I'm looking forward to the rest I'll have this year, it feels a bit unreal. Like I can't quite believe it will happen. Maybe I will eventually feel better about the holiday season after a few years of not celebrating it. Maybe.