Last night, thatcrazycajun made a post about his mixed feelings on the holiday season. I’ve been giving this some thought since I read it last night, because I’ve lately been of two minds about Christmas.
I love Christmas. I love the atmosphere it creates. I love winter. I love the lights, and the music, and the sheer joy that permeates every part of it. People are friendlier, and more giving, and more outwardly focused at Christmastime, and I love that.
I should note that I was raised agnostic. I’ve never had a deep, personal, spiritual relationship with the Christmas season, so my love for the holiday doesn’t have to get tangled up with how I feel about the actual implications of Christological mythology.
At the same time, I feel a little empty at Christmas, because Christmas is so very much about family, and mine isn’t here. It seems I never have the luxury of time to go and visit mine during the holidays, and even if I could, it’s been over a decade since my grandfather, the axis around which my entire family world revolved when I was a child, passed away. My cousins all have children, and have begun to spin their own family worlds, and having been absent the last 20 years, I’m not really a part of it.
Some years ago, I went to pick khaosworks up from bedlamhouse and ladyat‘s home on Christmas Day. I arrived as the family gift exchange was in full swing, and so I stood and watched a while waiting for Terence to be done. And watching it made me feel…not bad, really…but somehow that while I was certainly welcome to be there, I wasn’t really a part of what was going on. I was an observer, not a participant. And I realised at that moment what I deeply, truly, achingly missed from my own life — that sense of total belonging. I’m not entirely sure I feel it anywhere, any more.
kitanzi and I have our own little Christmas traditions. We’re low-key people, and we do low-key things. But there’s a part of me that really misses the noisy, warm, chaotic love of Christmas morning with the whole family gathered for food and gifts and running around the yard.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
For me, now that my kids are grown and spinning *their* own family circles, my generation (siblings and cousins) feels more important than it did.
My family centers around Thanksgiving, so mainly I get annoyed by the music in stores this time of year, but don’t care particularly other than that. If my Dad’s in the States for Christmas, I’ll spend it with him, but that has more to do with only seeing Dad once a year or so than the day in question.
I’ll note, however, that I don’t mind being away from family for holidays I celebrate (read: Passover), as I have the whole togetherness thing at Thanksgiving.
I can understand that
When I was a kid, my grandmother always made sure all her kids and grandkids were together for the holidays, so when she died in October ’90, Christmas just wasn’t the same anymore. This time of year always makes me miss her and the loudness that was Grandpa and Grandma’s house on Christmas.
Oh, I so get this. This year, my walls around it have held steady; so I won’t go too far in cataloguing what’s behind them here. I always feel sorry for the others in the family/tribe to which I belong: The Tribe of Hurt and Excluded People with No or Bad Family Sitchs. I understand what it feels like to fall between the cracks in society’s ever coveted, all powerful: Family. It’s at the heart of just most plots of most media. Give kitanzi a squeeze for me this Christmas. I’ll be in New York chinchilla sitting for a friend waiting for it to be over. What I’m thankful for this holiday season is that it hasn’t been too bad.
I’ve spent the 25th surrounded by the chaos and noise and warmth; I’ve spent the 25th alone in a cold house, just me, a mince pie, and some Netflix. On that year(s), it wasn’t the noise, the warmth, the chaos, the food, or the people that I missed at all.
It was knowing that for that day that room full of people cared about me.
What is it about the noise, the warmth, the food, the chaos, that you miss? How can you invite more of it into your life?
This year, for Christmas, I will be at
‘s house taking part in her Orphan Christmas, where as Anaisdjuna put it, “The Tribe of Hurt and Excluded People with No or Bad Family Sitchs” (or, the Land of Misfit Toys) will be gathering to share in the caring of one another.
If you build it, they will come. Maybe one at a time, but in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. -H…
I’ll admit that I love the holidays. Even years like this one where Offhand Manor is celebrating an O Henry Winter Season.
Not that I can point to a single thing about the season I like so much. I’m an atheist, loathe crass commercialism, and given my druthers would probably prefer to celebrate Midwinter’s Day from Turtledove’s Videssos over any of the real celebrations. But there’s something about this time of year that really appeals to me.
It’s easier now, since I get to watch my sister’s girls experience the magic through innocent eyes. Watching them on Christmas morning is a joy.
But yeah, the excuse to gather with family is the best thing. Family of blood, family of choice, whichever is best for you.
Halford bless us, everyone.
It’s weird. I grew up just hating family stuff and waiting for the day I was grown up and able to stop going. Then I was and often I did stay away, but eventually I noticed that my generation was now the focus and though the family issues are still there, both in reality and in my mind :), I want to keep in touch and catch up with these people. I’m finally starting to have the family experiences I always wanted (for a varied mixture of both internal and external changes) and it’s kind of amazing at times (and yes infuriating at times too :)).
I hope your personal traditions grow into ones that keep you and yours warm and comforted. And just because *more hugs*
Christmas since Greg died has been an incredibly lonely time. I have the obligatory present opening with the children, whenever they can fit me in -- and it does feel obligatory, and they fit me in because otherwise they wouldn’t get their gifts. They did the same when he was alive, but it didn’t matter, because I had the fun of planning unexpected gifts for him and seeing his reaction, and spending time with him planning gifts for his family was always fun.
Now, Faeryn will decorate a tree in the basement apartment, and at whatever time she and her brother can agree on, we’ll all gather down there. I’ll be on my own until they arrive, and shortly after they open gifts, they’ll head off to their father’s house or grandparents, or the homes of their significant others, and it will be me and the cats. Really, sometimes I wish I lived far enough away from them that I could just pack and send their gifts, and just let Christmas be just another day, albeit one where I’m guaranteed not to be called in to work at either job.
Wow, that became all about me and not about you -- sorry! I’m rather more self-centered than usual this year. I really did read and “listen” *HUGS* to you and Kitanzi. Did you really grow up somewhere where it was warm enough to run around the yard on Christmas?
I used to get pushed into spending Christmas at Other People’s Houses for most of my adulthood (first in-laws, then, after my divorce, my mother would insist that I go to whichever of my sisters she was visiting that year).
Because of this, I’d really rather spend Christmas on my own. I’m not Christian (Yule means more to me than Christmas), and while I do decorate my home for the holiday, I’m as likely to drive to the beach for the day if the weather cooperates as anything else.
I get that Christmas is a big, noisy family holiday, but that never appealed to me in the first place [wry g].
Thank you for writing about this. My feelings are a little different, but I’ll write about them in my own journal.
I hear you. Ever since my parents passed away, and most of my family mostly turned against me because of my nasty relative, I’ve felt what you felt. I have the Prof and his mom, but holidays spent at his relatives don’t feel the same. Outsider looking in, yeah, I know that. Granted, my immediate family wasn’t the most wonderful, but they were a damn sight better than many. Major difference between us of course was that I was raised in the church, but have been into and out of that since I was eleven and first read Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth. Of course, the events of the fire did not help. Granted, I rarely think of that, though.
Still, it’s the spirit of the winter holiday season that I miss most of all. Working in retail has not helped with that either.
But, I will still wish y’all the greetings of the season. 🙂