Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year*

Christmas 2012. My bangs are 30% grayer now.

I don't love Christmas.  I have depression and it depresses me. There you go. 

I walked through an arcade downtown today en route to a meeting and there was a tall, conical Christmas tree installed centrally. As I passed it, I politely said "no" as though it were going to ask me to sign a petition for something. 

This was supposed to be the year that we finally achieved my dream of going away for Christmas, just the two of us. Watching the sun rise on Christmas morning from our tent on the beach. Better yet, trusting that the sun will do its thing and waking up Christmas afternoon. Even Nick, who was not initially sold on the idea, announced shortly after we arrived home from all our Christmas driving last year that the next year, we were taking off, we were gonna do it. 

Now that there's a baby in the family, of whom I quite fond, we both couldn't imagine missing his first Christmas. Even though he can't comprehend "hands" let alone the wonder of an omniscient trespassing elf who brings presents. Gotta smush on his face. Gotta do it.

I get very tangled up in the perceived expectations of others with regards to how we spend our time during the week of Christmas. We have three sets of parents between us who are all within a few hours' drive of each other. Every year we change up how we make Christmas happen logistically and every year we feel like we are doing it poorly and unpopularly but in a fresh, new 
way. Often the happiest time of the season is driving 4 hours from northeastern Ohio to southwestern Ohio or vice versa, alone with Nick on the quiet highway.

I also have a hang-up about gifts. I was blaming others' expectations at first but it is my ego.  I feel "legitimate" when I can give a family member a thoughtful, "nice" gift. Each year, Nick and I push for a reduced emphasis on gifts within his family and it never happens. This year, we are just going to start giving small edible gifts and owning it. Like, literally a jar of homemade pesto with a ribbon around it. It seems obvious, but sometimes these things get snagged on cultural weirdness and status quo on their way to execution. Say it with me now, the gifts aren't the point, the gifts aren't the point, the gifts aren't the point.

Perhaps someday faraway-Christmas will happen, but for all I know my blue mood would follow me to paradise regardless.

Life is stupidly short and we owe it to ourselves to love on our families while honoring our own little hearts. Cheers**.

*for some values of "wonderful"
**Oh, I finally found a holiday beer that doesn't taste like spiced garbage! Shiner Cheer. 


  1. I love your blog and I love your writing but I am only compelled to write comments when I feel I can possibly offer SOLUTIONS so here it is:

    I pitched to my family doing THE SWAP of gifts because (I love Christmas) and presents, but buying is so hard like we are oooolldddd now right and what could I possibly get them that they actually want and don't have? So we each get one gift of roughly $25 value and swap that shit until everybody is happy. It's fun. (Homemade is also awesome and welcome.)

    And more of a commiseration on family travel. First of all, we do a private couple-Christmas at home before starting The Travel. Then. Go to my dad's family before Christmas eve, my mom's family Christmas eve and overnight, then my partner's family late Christmas day. Every year we say we're going to spend Christmas in Cuba, in Bruges, in anywhere-not-here, not crossing an international border at midnight looking suspicious as fuck, and every year we spend a week criss-crossing the province. Not this year though, and not next year either, since I'll have a little niece or nephew of my own to smoosh.

    The drive, though. The drive with just the two of us is so nice. It is Christmas.

  2. Yes to the swap! I convinced my family to do it a few years ago, and while our parents still sort of ignore the concept behind it and bought us extra stuff anyways, it takes away a lot of pressure. Usually 90% of the items are booze and 10% are food, too, which is nice to minimize the garbage.

    Also, I don't know if this is maybe a nightmarish concept for you, but what about hosting? We hosted Christmas a few years ago and it was so much better than lugging around all our stuff and our 125 pound dog. But I like cooking meals that other people consider stressful/insane.

    Finally, this will make your holiday tolerable if nothing else will, especially with that beer:

  3. I love Shiner Cheer.

    We have decided to forgo Christmas presents this year. We instead will be putting the money we'd normally spend in a savings account to help our relatives travel to see us. We've asked that our family NOT buy us presents either. And, if they'd like, do the same with the money they planned to spend on us. We know it will be financially difficult for them to travel to us, so this felt like a wonderful way to help. In theory, at least...

    My mother in law has yet to wrap her brain around it.
    "It will be awkward for us to buy you presents and you not buy us any."
    "We don't want you to buy us presents."
    "But, the children. You'll surely buy presents for the children."

    I give up.

    1. Becky! I am excited that you are keeping a blog. Good luck with the move.

  4. We have the same Christmas, and I feel exactly the same way about it. Except that we hate the drive. Hate it. Both of us, ragey and frustrated that we have to be the ones on the road while everyone else gets to stay in their pajamas in their warm houses. Both pissed.

    But then we get home, to our house, and our cat, and the sex under the Christmas tree, and then it's not so bad.