I’m about a week out from spending my first Christmas ever without my kids, and I gotta say, I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite this cynical about this whole deal.
I don’t know if it’s the yoga, the meditating, the fact that my life is in a perpetual state of change at all times, or just the fact that I feel like I am finally waking the hell up, but I just can’t see Christmas in the same way anymore.
I’m struggling a bit with what “the season” really means, and how we have gotten so very far away from its original intention in our celebration.
Like, what are we even acknowledging, and why the hell do we only remember to do it once a year? Really people? Daily practice. That shit should be a daily practice.
And then there’s this whole thing with traditions that’s really gotten me all twisted up inside.
If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” then. . . um . . where exactly does that leave us here, in this effort to do what we always do?
I think a little bit, yeah. A little Christmas crazy maybe. A bit fried. Overextended. Taxed, and not in a way that will benefit us come April either.
Where is the balance? Where do we draw the line between creating a few consistent practices and norms that may be carried forward fondly for generations to come, and in going all gangbusters in our efforts to not just repeat, but out-do last year (and our neighbors, friends, and followers)?
When is enough, enough?
When does old become antiquated, familiar become boring, and could become must?
It’s a slippery slope, and a rather emotional one, especially during a highly emotional thirty(ish) day span of time.
As the year closes our successes and failures are highlighted; our life’s choices exposed and magnified as we gather together in spirit (and mockery). Cats come out of bags, closet doors get opened, skeletons are viewed, front doors get slammed, and baggage spills out all over the dining room table for everyone to see, and judge.
It is no wonder then, that we cling so desperately to the illusion of a few pieces of normalcy in all of this chaos. We crave just a few predictable things, documentable proof that we’re normal and everything is just fine.
Keep calm and tradition on, or something.
Sometimes that works.
Usually, though, it doesn’t.
Like a band-aid on a broken finger, it’s simply not a sustainable fix.
Why? Well, I would argue that traditions do at least two things for us: 1) they trigger old (often painful) memories, and, 2) they create expectations.
Neither of these are particularly helpful for our state of mind nor do they call our attention to our present.
What happened in the past, has well, passed. It cannot be recreated. It cannot be erased. It is done. It either serves as a catalyst for growth or it takes away from today’s happiness.
Use it, or lose it.
Having expectations is a setup for disappointment. The more we hold fast to an idea of how things are supposed to be, the less we are actually able to enjoy them. Why not simply let them be as they are, set ourselves up for success and bring the things we can control — our attitude, our willingness and a loving heart — to any situation?
Stop wishing for something you don’t have, didn’t do, and didn’t get. Either make it happen or drop it.
Enjoy who and what is actually right in front of you. If you don’t like it, then for fuck’s sake, just do something else; your feet are only stuck in the depths of holiday hell as long as you choose to keep them there. Grab a ladder and let go of the banana.
Hard to believe I know, but the Christmas tradition police aren’t going to arrest you for failure to appear if you choose to, gasp, do something else this year.
Nobody is going to remember the perfectly wrapped sweater set they received alongside the annual delivery of coal and resentment at the family gift exchange, but I’ll be dammed if the time you spent the day together volunteering at a homeless shelter won’t be stuck in your minds forever.
Wouldn’t you rather spend two hours laughing around the firepit at an impromptu late night round of storytelling and caroling than standing with your cold and whining children in the snow as you wait to be ushered into midnight mass?
I know I would.
Why not practice the art of making things new? Be different. Do different. Change. Give yourself permission to fuck up a little, it makes for a way better story anyway.
So this year, burn the damn turkey. Under cook your roast. Buy store bought rolls. Eat seven pieces of pie as dinner. Ride your bike on a lights tour. Don’t watch the Christmas pageant behind a lens.
Go on a trip.
Turn your present opening routine into a scavenger hunt. Ask your friends to contribute to a charity in your name instead of buying you another scarf.
Have a tree un-decorating party.
Listen to hip-hop holiday music and have a dance off with your nephew in the kitchen. Play Cards Against Humanity with your 80 year old Grandmother, spinster of an Aunt Carolyn and questionably sober Uncle Frank.
Come on people, shake it up already.
Let new be new. Let old be old. Let whatever happens, just fucking happen.
See you on the other side; may the odds be ever in our favor.
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