Saturday, December 20, 2008

Read at your own peril

I'm about to say something that many will find hard to believe. And I don't want to offend anyone - what I'm about to say is my own personal thoughts and opinions. But I'm putting out a warning that this might upset some.
This gets worse for me every year - and this year is the worst so far.

OK

Deep Breath


I don't like Christmas. I don't like Christmas A LOT!!
Every year I start getting cranky around mid-November and it gets worse and worse as we get closer. This year it's so bad I'm going to have to double up on my anti anxiety medication until I get past it. I feel like I'm hanging on by my fingertips and could fall into a huge hole at any moment. I'm zoning in and out a lot - mostly I'd rather be zoned out. I want to hide away in my bedroom until it's all over and life can get back to normal.
There are a number of reasons I have such a difficult time. The first being the very purpose. It's gone - totally! Christmas is supposed to be a celebration on the birth of Christ - but it's just not 'done' anymore. I first noticed this when the boys were in public school and they weren't allowed to have anything to do with the Nativity at the risk of 'horrors' offending any other religious group.
Hello! What is Christmas supposed to be????????????????? It's supposed to be a celebration of a special day in the Christian religion - except it's anything but anymore. And I find the whole thing insane!! While I don't know that much about other faiths, I don't think - at least I truly hope - that they haven't taken the meaning out of 'special holy' days and times the way they have stripped Christmas of any real spiritual meaning.
Instead now it's supposed to be when everyone comes together and has one touchy feelly day of goodness, when families reach out and mend fences, when for one day were are all supposed to smile and behave like Hallmark People.
I call bullshit on that. Instead it's a time when family differences are magnified, where drama and hurt feelings take over and people are torn in many pieces. It's when families with the slightest dysfunction dread what's going to go wrong this year. And let's face it - what family doesn't have some degree of dysfunction?? I was talking to one good friend at work today and her family lives out of town. She is dreading the holidays because of family conflict that gets worse for her each year. She doesn't want to go home because of the drama she knows is to come and I'm sure this kind of thing is played out in many a family.
Oh, I know - I hear sentiments on the radio - it's all about the children. I call bull shit on that too I'm afraid. Unless one has very young children who don't know any better, many parents beggar themselves buying WII's, cell phones, I Pods, Plasma TV's etc. etc. etc. etc.
I wonder what on earth that has to do with the birth of Christ.
Year after year in my own case, I agonize over what to get everyone, never satisfied that I've gotten the right thing. I put such a heavy burden on myself that by the time the Big Day arrives, I'm a total basket case. And of course then there is the joy of taking months to pay off the credit card bills I've racked up on things I know that I got wrong.
I hate it when people ask me what I want. I rack my brain trying to come up with stuff. But I'm satisfied with what I have. Sure there's always something I might want - but if I don't get it, my life, as I know it, won't end. I always want to say nothing. I don't need anything. I just want to say get me something you think I might like - and don't spend much.
And as bad as it's been in the previous years, it's nothing compared to what it's like now. I ache - soul deep - in missing Ron. It's especially difficult this time of year coming home to an empty house. He's supposed to be here, at least making it bearable for me, but he isn't. It was his birthday yesterday - he would have been 55. Instead of coming home and seeing him, I had my own case of family drama that's zapped me of any emotion except great sorrow.
I'm worried about my sons - especially the oldest one. He works in the auto industry and as of Monday he's being laid off and has no idea when he will be working again. He says not to worry - but I can't help it.
I don't mean to sound self-pitying - I'm just using me as an example.
I work in the health care industry. I see people diagnosed with cancer every single day - many I know who won't recover. This is my weekend to work and today alone I got two calls about people who had just passed away last night and today. So what is Christmas going to mean to them in the coming years?
Maybe if we got back to basics I wouldn't be so bitter about the whole thing. But the rampant consumerism of this whole time makes me ill. It seems when they mention it on the radio, immediately it's followed by how the retail industry is doing. The fact that people die because of greed in being one of only a few to get a certain electronic devise that is marked down drastically in price. What the hell does that have to do with the birth of Christ? But wait.... we can't go back to basics can we? Because - at least in Canada - and probably parts of the US, we aren't supposed to dare mention what December 25 is supposed to really be about.
And as sad as it is, peace on earth is just a pipe dream.

There, I've said it. This has been tough to write because one just isn't supposed to feel this way. But as much as I hate to admit it - this is what I feel and it just grows and grows every year.

25 comments:

MB (Leah) said...

Wow, that was so real what you wrote.

While I'm not a Christian, I do believe that Christmas is the day to celebrate Christ and all of this politically correct crap about not being able to do so pisses me off as well.

Here there's been issues about even cashiers or other business people saying Merry Christmas as opposed to Happy Holidays, because someone of the different belief system might get offended. How dumb. It's Christmas!

While I do enjoy the holidays, I do understand what you are saying about families and the whole gift giving issue. Really, I rather like to give gifts when I think of someone and not out of some obligation because it's a certain time of year.

I'm sorry about the loss of your husband. I think that must be the hardest thing to deal with during this time because of all of the emphasis on family, loving and giving, which are the things our spouses give us.

Hang in there it will be over soon and life can go on.

And I appreciate that you wrote this. Just on the level that it's so honest and what's real for you.

Jenster said...

You're preaching to the choir here. I just wrote a post about this very thing the other day. It's sad, sad, sad.

JenB said...

Kristie, I really respect you for posting this. You spoke honestly and even captured my own thoughts beautifully.

I used to love Christmas. However, the holiday time we've come to know is NOT the same holiday I celebrated as a child. So sad.

Kerry said...

I totally hear what you're saying and respect you for coming out and saying it. I agree with you.

My gripe this year is that my 4 year-old son has been so indoctrinated on Santa at his daycare this year that we really had no choice but to go ahead and have Santa come for him. He believes in Santa. I hadn't decided if that was something I wanted to do as for me it's not the main point of Christmas. I'm not necessarily angry that we're doing the Santa thing, but I am angry that the decision on whether or not to do it was taken away from me. I'm his parent and surely it should be my decision, not come from daycare because the holiday is no longer allowed to be mentioned as being a religious celebration (and historically it is, whether any individual believes or not) so the only thing they've got that they're allowed to do with the kids is Santa.

Okay, that's my rant over. It's really been bugging me and your post just made it all burst out.

I send you my sympathies on the Christmas reminder of your loss. You've made me decide to call my SIL as this will be her first Christmas without her mother and I think she's going to find it very difficult. I've been thinking of her and I think I should tell her.

little alys said...

I don't celebrate Christmas anyways, but I do enjoy having the time off to recouperate from the year.
It's funny how commercialized all holidays have become. Buy this. Get that. Stomp someone to get this or stab someone to buy that. *sigh*

No biggie about not liking this day.

Barbara said...

I loved Christmas as a kid. But once I grew up and got married, it just wasn't the same. As a kid you're too enchanted with Santa and all that stuff to realize any different. I agree, it's supposed to be a day to celebrate Christ and his birth. It should be a day for family and friends. Not a time where you, me and everyone in between has to spend thousands of dollars just because.

Allison('s)Reads said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison('s)Reads said...

Hey Kristie, I want to send caring thoughts your way, and may it be of some (small) comfort to know that many of us see it the same as you. At least we can individually start/try to remember the true point of this time of year (for some it is Christmas, others Hanukkah etc.), and I thank you for your post which makes me stop and think about what's going on within/around me.

wonderings said...

Have you seen A Charlie Brown Christmas recently? It's pretty awesome. It's addresses a few of the issues in your post, I think. And it's from 1965!

Christmas is what you make of it. It means different things to different people. That's okay. I don't believe Christ=savior, but of course those that do can celebrate Christmas as such. Trust me, there are those that DON'T let you forget it's *CHRIST*mas or that 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season'. In neon. With glitter. Hee. I still love this season of twinkling lights & carol singing, decorated trees & cookie dough slinging. (/bad rhyme attempt) And, yeah, I actually like spending time with my family and exchanging presents with them, the people that I love, just as we have for years and years past.

My mom puts up a small nativity every year. It's pretty. The story of the star and the wisemen and shelter in a time of need still touches me. But not in the way it does my mom.

I lost where I was going with this...at any rate, I hope getting your thoughts out was therapeutic.

Here's wishing you less stress & more merry this Christmas.

Jill Sorenson said...

I don't have much spirit this year, which makes me feel bad because my two little girls ARE excited.

With the economy the way it is, I sort of expected a "back to basics" Christmas. Ha! In Southern California, where I live, people are out at the malls in droves. It really feels like a last hurrah to me, a final spending spree before the creditors come.

Lea said...

Kristie:

I am so sorry for your loss. The absence of a close loved one, especially a beloved spouse is magnified ten fold on occasions such as birthdays, Christmas etc.

I always breath a sigh of relief when the Christmas holidays are over. It is an extremely stressful time and I equate it with the four letter word WORK.

However, I do like to look at the Christmas tree when it is up and like to bake so I try to take some peace from those things.

As to your points with respect to the consumerism and the loss of what is truly the meaning of Christmas. Well, Christmas is a vehicle for the retailers to sell stuff and thats basically the bottom line.

You are also very correct with respect to the fact that many Christmas religious traditions have been sacrificed for the sake of "political correctness" which is sad.

I am not offended at all by your post, I think it is well said.

My thoughts are with you and yours Kristie. I hope 2009 is a better year for you all.

Best Regards

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I am Catholic and went to Catholic school from Kindergarten all the way to a Senior in high school. I go to church and I am sorry, but if you are not Christian you should not celebrate Christmas. My company is giving up 3 days off, for the holiday, and those who do not celebrate Christmas, because they are not Christian or don't believe in religion, etc... do not have the right to have those days off.

I will never forget, I used to babysit these 2 little boys across the street from me. They had a Christmas Tree and even a Nativity set under the tree. They were not Christian and had no clue who Jesus was!! That pisses me off to this day.

Sorry, if I sound like such a bitch. :(

Marianne McA said...

My confession is that - while I still like Cristmas - I hate Christmas cards...

It's become ridiculous - I buy them, buy stamps, procrastinate till after the last posting date, and then feel guilty for another year.

Don't even open the ones I get, because I feel so guilty that I don't return them.

I'm a terrible person.

FWIW, my mum solved the gift thing by asking to get charitable stuff (goat for Africa, that kind of thing) and that's what she gives as well. The children get something like a chicken for Africa each. She'd still get my youngest nieces, who are 2 and 5, actual presents, but it's removed most of the stress of present buying from her life, and it is a genuinely Christmassy thing to do. As far as I know, nobody minded.

I'm sorry about your son - that's such a worry. It's been a horrible Christmas that way - so many people left worried about their jobs or businesses.

sula said...

idk, I kind of think that regardless of its original "meaning", the holiday has become something of a national holiday at least in the western world. The political correctness doesn't bother me in the least. I'm Christian. My fiance is Muslim. I don't see us getting two or three days off work for Eid or Ramadan. So if the only major holiday we get is a Christian one, why can he not celebrate as well in his own way? Without all of the religious trappings? To me, the whole thing has become something of a time for everyone to take a short vacation, eat food, give presents to each other and see family. If you want to make it religious, fine. If not, that's fine too. Personal freedom and all that.

As for the consumerism, it is overwhelming and pretty disgusting. I tend to opt out and just stay home cooking and curling up with good books and movies. I refuse to feel obligated to go into debt to follow some pre-ordained notion of expensive and lavish gift giving. Simple gifts to close friends or just sharing a meal or a little party. That's where's it at for me. Well, that and a good book of course. :)

Anonymous said...

I always thought of Christmas as a time to spread good cheer, or good feelings to others. The whole gift giving stress thing has gotten way out of hand. I don't stress if I get a present or not. But I do enjoy giving presents This year I am baking cookies for a lot of people, because I enjoy it and I enjoy them. I don't care if I get anything back. I like them they get cookies, period. Too many people stress out at this time of year and it is so sad. There really is no need. Christmas is a feeling inside of you. I don't believe in Jesus as the son of god, but I am very spiritual.I do believe in the feeling of good will. It is a time of year when you make sure that you help people, to do good things for others.It is to bad that so many people wait till this time, but at least they are trying once a year. We have to quit making it about us and make it about other people. If you do that then the stress, the disgust over consurmerism won't bother you so much because really it is about people and not things. So when you go out to the mall or even out to the grocery store smile really big for whom ever is helping you. Make it about making them happy and not about the lines or stress make it about making as many people smile as you can. That to me is the Christmas spirit. For me I say yea to Christmas yea for people yea for life. Yea to all the good things and on my end I will try to fix what I can on the bad end.

Amie Stuart said...

I"m not exactly what you'd call a traditional Christian but I have to go with Anon here

I always thought of Christmas as a time to spread good cheer, or good feelings to others.

This is gone. Completely. And like you Kristie, I'll spend every day leading up to Christmas fighting tears (and a wee bit o depression). It's no fun. Due in part to still remembering the hard times. Due to the lack of cheer, the lack of family feeling, step-sisters who won't even celebrate holidays with me and my brothers, ungrateful children....oh I could go on and on but I'll save you.

Next year, everbody's getting coal.

AnimeJune said...

Dear Kristie,

Like Katiebabs, I grew up in a religious Catholic family and went to Catholic school, and it really helped take the consumerist edge off of Christmas for me.

That being said, I hate be barraged with commercials that tell you that gift giving at Christmas means getting EXACTLY what your relatives ask for or else you're a TERRIBLE person. That's bullshit. If they don't like your gift, tough. The point of Christmas gift giving is to thinking about the people you love, and remember what you like about them and what they're passionate doing and what your proud of them doing, and let that influence your gift.

And there is no holiness, virtue, or goodness in trampling someone to death at a Walmart to get a VCR. But it's all over the TV.

I often wondered how my family managed - I've always enjoyed Christmas. We had stress (cooking and preparing the house for twenty people will do that) and dysfunction, but we all had a good time.

My mum's told me time and time again that you have to make your own Christmas. Do it your way - celebrate Advent, read Bible stories, sing Christmas carols. Encourage thoughtful gifts and gratitude. TURN OFF THE TV is always a big rule in my house, except for the Christmas movies which always make us cry. Also, don't invite people who can't put their personal baggage aside and act like a decent human being for one day out of the year. If they want to get invited badly enough they'll shape up next year.

For about five years, my parents hosted the Christmas dinner, and it was always such a huge stress - cleaning the house and polishing the silver and trying to make all the chairs fit. We hated that part of Christmas, even though the dinner itself was always fun. Finally, my mum said, "I'm done. I'm not doing anymore." Miraculously, Christmas didn't collapse - another relative decided to give it a try at her house, and she had such a knack for it we've had a blast at her house.

I know I'm still a relatively young person, just out of University, and some of you will say "Wait until you grow up."

Well, part of my parents determination to have a religious Christmas instilled in me the importance of prayer. It's helped me through pain and loss and super stress. So I pray for everyone who's having a lousy Christmas thanks to stress or the Big 3 going under or the economic collapse. Kristie J, I pray that you get to read and enjoy many romance novels over the holidays. ^_^ I also pray your son lands on his feet.

Also - remember the right of free speech. Say "Merry Christmas," and if people get offended, they deserve to be.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (or as merry as you can make it!)

Karen W. said...

No rotten tomatoes here because I agree with you 100%. For me, it started with that man being killed by stampeding shoppers in a Wal-mart on Long Island on "Black Friday" and went downhill from there. I work in retail, and as people get crankier and crankier, I feel the holiday has become all about who can "out shop" the other and has totally lost the deeper meaning. We have trouble getting people out of the store even at 6 p.m. on *Christmas Eve* when we want to go home to be with our families because people are still shopping alone instead of being home with theirs. And time together is much more important than gifts. I think people really need to watch (and absorb) the meaning of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." :-)

BevBB said...

I don't believe you're alone in this at all, Kristie. In the last few years I've gone to great pains to simplify things during the holidays. By that I mean, all the way from around Halloween through New Years. I just don't sweat the small stuff, but, contrarily, it's also the little things that tend to mean the most. Finding that balance between trying to do it all and actually doing those things that make us and our families happy and at peace with the season is a large part of the problem.

Otherwise, what's the point?

Leslie said...

Kristie(((hugs))) You can feel however you want to feel about Christmas. I know that sometimes I get tired of the commercialism and lack of true holiday spirit. I think a lot of people feel this way. Growing up in a Catholic home Christmas was when we got to go to midnight mass and my grandma's house for Christmas dinner. Grandma would pass around the wafer and there would be lots of prayers. It was a special time. I try to keep that feeling alive for my kids but it's hard.

The gift giving I always have a limit. I know how much I can afford to spend and refuse to go into debt. I simply set a limit and get what I think they would like. If they don't like it, that's ok. I don't always like what I'm given but it's not the end of the world. As for the commercialism of it. It disgusts me. And it's not just Christmas. All the holidays seems to be over sold by retailers.

I do say Merry Christmas to people. I generally can't tell what religion a person is simply by looking at them and I think it would be rude to presume their religion based on looks. So I say what I would like others to say to me. I can only hope that they take it in the spirit that it's given because I don't mean to offend.

I hope things do get better for you and please know that all of us here are thinking about you.

CindyS said...

Hugs.

I love you.

You have said so much of what I have been feeling for the past few years. This is the first year I have felt the Christmas Spirit in years and I'm really soaking it in.

I have had friends and family over for more turkey dinners than any other year and even though I will also be coughing back some anxiety meds, I'm not as upset as I have been in the past.

I'm so sorry about your son. My brother has been without a job for 4 months now (he was in robotics) and his wife is in automotive parts which has probably been shut down now. My brother tries not to worry all of us but I can't even imagine the kind of financial times they are having.

My poor brother feels like because he's not exchanging gifts with the family that he is a loser. This is so not the case! I love him to pieces and if I can just give him a hundred bucks to help get groceries or gas - but pride is hard and I struggle to explain that I think no less of him or his family, that what has happened is no fault of his own. That we (Bob and I) are fortunate, we have no kids and we can spare a few dollars.

It's come to the place where I don't ask him about work. I just let him sit and talk about whatever he is comfortable with. I'm his big sister so I need to be sure I'm doing every thing I can to let him know I care.

Commercialism has been such a sore point with me that I won't enter a store in September if they have Christmas decorations out.

I wish it were simplier. That we could tell friends and family to stop but my parents have no grandchildren to spoil so they spoil us. And in return, we feel like we need to spoil them. It's a vicious circle.

I enjoy Christmas Eve the most because it marks the end of the 'commercial' part of Christmas and is the beginning of family and comfort.

I'll be thinking of you on Christmas day and hey, celebrate or not the way you want. A cold beer, a great book and a nap sound like something that would at least help.

Hugs
Cindy

Robin F said...

Hi,

I really understand your feelings it becomes a huge race against time and you just feel like you have one more thing you have to get done. I think that is why so many people love Thanksgiving it is just so much more restful and it gives you time to appreciate your family and friends.

I have been meaning to post this on your blog, but I though it might cheer you up a little. I am generally a lurker, but knew I had to tell you this. Have you ever watched the BBC show Spooks, or it might be called MI5 in North American. In any case the most recent series just ended here and do you know who was added to the case, Richard Armitage! It was really good. My husband I got hooked and now have to go back and watch all the old series to find out everyone's back story.

Hope that cheered you a little!

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow, what a lot of glass half empty people here. If everyone tried to find the good things that happens this time of year instead of concentrating on the bad then maybe they would have a little less stress and more cheer. For me the wonderful blessing came in the form of cookies. Yesterday a neibour left cookies at my door. I had never met them personaly. I have lived here for almost five years. I was so touched that I had to call them up and thank them.
When I called they were touched that I called them to thank them. To me that is Christmas spirit. I hope everyone here can find theirs.

Kristie (J) said...

Anonymous: Usually for this kind of post, I don't respond to all the comments but I did want to address yours. I did say at the beginning *g* to read at your own peril. But I did want to explain that for some people - people who suffer from depression (such as myself believe it or not) that this is a very difficult time. I'm not a depressed person - trust me on that. I love to laugh and make others laugh too. Almost everything I do, say or write is with that intent. But depression is something inside. I've been on medication for it off and on for years and constantly so since my husband died.
And these are my own personal thoughts. Very few outside know of them. And I'm not scrooge like - even though it sounds like it. I probably donate more money at this time of year than any other. And I don't rain on anyone's parade who loves this time of year - I envy them and I'm so glad that they can find joy.
But for me (and others) it is a time of much added stress when just a little more stress can send them on a tailspin. This was my own personal tailspin.

And also to Robin F. Thank you so much for coming out of lurkdom. And *very big grin* yep - I'm aware of Spooks and Richard Armitage's role in it. While I live on the other side of the pond and I don't get BBC Canada thus I haven't seen it, I do know the storylines - and the very intriguing role he plays *wink*. I was in a movie store a couple of weeks ago and they had a season of Spooks for sale - but I checked and it wasn't the season that Richard was in. But if/when it comes out on DVD - well I shall be adding it to my collection.

Jessica said...

I'm thinking about you this week Kristie, and hope you are doing well.