I’ll be honest – this year, Christmas isn’t really exciting to me. My mom died just over a year ago, and the holidays are so much harder than I ever imagined they would be. Perhaps if I had kids or a bigger family, I’d be more into the holiday despite my mom no longer being with us. Now it’s just my dad and I, as well as my girlfriend.
I remember several years ago, I was playing a goofy Christmas song. A family friend asked “can we please stop the Christmas music?” He had no family left, save for a brother whom he barely talked to. I now understand his feelings about Christmas and the holidays. They really can be tougher than tough. This is a fact of our mortality, and the mortality of our loved ones. Said mortality means eventually we will have to celebrate any given holiday without each other. This is the way life works. Guess what? It sucks!
Despite my emotions – I’m still choosing to celebrate the holidays. There’s a few reasons why – the loved ones I have left deserve it. Besides – the holidays can be fun even when loved ones are gone. The most important reason though – the holidays are about something so much bigger than ourselves.
Do our loved ones really deserve to be left in the cold?
As I mentioned – I have my dad and my girlfriend. Those are pretty much my only immediate family. As far as my extended family, there’s my dad’s brother who lives in Indiana. Here in Oregon, there’s my mom’s siblings and her mom (my grandma), as well as my cousin. My grandma is almost 90 years old and really just isn’t interested in the holidays for the most part. To her, they’re just too much work. Really – she’s been heading down this road ever since my grandpa died in 1993. Perhaps it’s been too painful for her since my grandpa passed away. Honestly – I don’t blame her. I’ll also add that her family seemed to die a lot around the holidays. She had a sister who died December 26th, and both my grandpa and another one of her sisters died on the 23rd.
Again, I really can’t blame her for not really caring about the holidays – not in the least! Having said that – I miss Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving Day at grandma’s. It really was a special time. So – when i say bah humbug to Christmas – I remember that I still have immediate family. Just as I miss the time at my grandma’s, they’re going to miss their time with me. Luckily, both my dad and my girlfriend are being pretty chill about the holidays. Neither of them are expecting anything major from me. Heck – instead of cooking – my dad and I went to Famous Dave’s for our Thanksgiving meal this year. So – observing the holidays is not a huge chore. In fact, I feel it’s the least I can do for them.
The holidays are a lot of fun!
I remember one year, 2005 I believe, I just was not into Christmas. I was annoyed at the girl I thought I was dating at the time. Ultimately, she informed me that she wasn’t coming home to Portland at all over the break. She had moved a few months before for a job, and wasn’t really clear with me on where we stood. Ultimately – it was my fault as really I should have read the signs, but whatever. I have someone so much better than she could ever be now – but I digress.
My point here – I was just too wrapped up in my own emotional crap to care about Christmas. Sure – I looked at lights – I always enjoy lights. But Christmas TV shows, music, and any other traditions I have just didn’t hold any sway for me that year.
Just before midnight, late Christmas night, my mom played a version of “The Holly and the Ivy” which was so amazingly beautiful. There was a choral orchestration and pathos inducing arrangements and everything! At that moment I realized two things: 1) I was being an absolute dolt for snubbing my nose at Christmas and 2) It was too late to do anything about it.
I look to the Christmas of 2005 as a life lesson. Despite what’s going on – Christmas (and the rest of the holidays) can be a lot of fun. I’ll admit – the last two days I’ve worn a hat that says “bah humbug.” Of course, on my music blog (shameless plug), I’m putting together a playlist of Christmas music that includes some rather snarky songs! Still – these things are, to me, fun! Of course I’m going to watch all my favorite holiday films and TV specials. Ultimately – despite my emotional state – I’m embracing Christmas. It’s hard, and I might not be diving as deep into the holidays as I might in other years, but I’m still diving into Christmas. I know it’s good for me, and I know that I’ll be missing out if I don’t.
Christmas isn’t just a holiday, but also a Holy day.
I already said that the holidays are about our family members, but that’s not the only reason the holidays are about more than just the individual. First of all, if you are a Christian and celebrate Christmas, you’re celebrating the birth of Jesus. That’s a pretty important thing! I remember when I was younger, my mom would make a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake every year….it was so fun. Oh, sure – the actual birth of Christ was not on December 25th, probably sometime in March or April. Still – despite legalist hardliners who tout this fact, Christian culture has come to the understanding that we are going to celebrate the birth of Christ around this time of year. That’s not going to change, and honestly, it doesn’t need to. It’s more important that we celebrate the birth of Christ than to get the date right.
The holidays are important to society!
So, what if you’re not a Christian? Well – we call this time “the holiday season” for a reason. Aside from Christmas, there’s also Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and a plethora of other winter holidays. Even if you don’t belong to any social, racial, religious, or cultural group with their own holiday – it’s still important to celebrate “the holidays.” I’ve pointed this song out before, but Blues Traveler wrote a song that really gets things right. The band Blues Traveler – a band who has actually put out a concept album about atheism wrote a song about how they celebrate Christmas despite the fact that they don’t believe in any religion. The basic message is that Christmas, or whatever holiday one celebrates, is more about observing and striving for peace on Earth, for joy, for love, and for hope.
That’s the precise reason the holidays are important to society in general. For one month of the year, despite religion, cultural group, or whatever, we try to think about these wonderful things. Sure – we’re going to talk about politics. We’re going to discuss world issues. Oh, and we’re also going to be fully immersed in capitalistic spending sprees (got to find that perfect gift). Despite these things – we try to think and talk about positive things. We try to reach out beyond ourselves – not only to our families, but to those in need. This month of thinking and hopefully practicing goodwill towards all needs to happen. We really need this type of thinking year round!
Maybe you disagree with me on The Holidays
That’s ok – but I do ask you to at least consider what I say here. I ask you to think about your loved ones, and how your decision to ignore the holidays affects them. I ask that you think about love, peace on Earth, goodwill towards all. Oh, and for goodness sake, I ask you to have fun.
No – you don’t have to celebrate my holiday. No – you don’t have to give gifts, or if you’re giving gifts, you don’t have to spend a ton of money – and please don’t go into debt just to buy things for others! All I ask is that you consider others this holiday season. We all have our pains – some more than others – but we all need each other.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!