blue xmas

Blue Xmas

Blue Xmas  —  The hol­i­day sea­son is a high stress time, due to our inabil­i­ty to say no. We might best explore oth­er, more sim­ple approach­es, and let go of the drama.

Look­ing for more on this topic? 

Check out my book, Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall.

Wayne’s “East­ern” book takes you by the hand and helps you to find peace of mind. Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall is a Zen-based guide to liv­ing life ful­ly and deeply.

Back in the day, some friends ran a “Blue Christ­mas” ser­vice just ahead of Dec. 2–5. I nev­er quite “got it,” despite all the sta­tis­tics about increas­es in depres­sion, etc. this time of year. 

The oth­er big­gie was that many peo­ple, appar­ent­ly, real­ly miss their dead fam­i­ly mem­bers at Christmastime.

I had nev­er noticed any par­tic­u­lar bump in my client load in Decem­ber  —  if any­thing, client load went down, so it all seemed a bit like an urban Myth. 

Ear­li­er today, though, I was read­ing a blog post, and the author was ask­ing, “So, how are you doing?”

He was asking because he noticed an overindulgence in buying, drinking, etc.

He sug­gest­ed that all of the dra­ma cooked up was like­ly a lead-in to the Sea­son­al Blues… and that much of the overindul­gence was “about” try­ing to ignore our self-cre­at­ed pain.

Add to that the dubi­ous joys of fam­i­ly gath­er­ings, spend­ing time with rel­a­tives you’d rather not see, reliv­ing events you either don’t remem­ber or are sure hap­pened some oth­er way.

You might not even cel­e­brate Christ­mas (like Dar­bel­la and me) but oblig­ate your­self to show up and be mer­ry for the sake of, say, your par­ents or siblings.

So, how are you doing?

How are your relationships holding up?

How much strain is the Sea­son­al nut­ti­ness cre­at­ing? or bet­ter put, how much dra­ma are you cre­at­ing for yourself? 

As I wrote last issue, it’s been decades since Dar and I pulled the plug on spend­ing… we used to spend thou­sands (yes, thou­sands…) on each other. 

I take respon­si­bil­i­ty for it.

Wayne and Xmas glut
“How about if I bang the drum with my gun?”

I’m an only child and was spoiled rot­ten. I could­n’t find a great pic­ture of Xmas glut, but the one here is me, around 4 or 5, gun in hand and drum set in the back­ground, being “prop­er­ly” adored by my mother. 

I sup­pose I would have got­ten 20 or 30 presents, and then anoth­er boat­load on Jan­u­ary 3, for my birthday.

I was well into my 40s before I could let go of the tra­di­tion of excess. Dar hooked her­self on it too. 

xmas painting

I did come up with a pho­to from the mid 90s. I’d paint­ed a por­trait of Dar, and we pho­tographed it. The stuff to the left of the pho­to is 1/2 of the gifts we’d pur­chased for each oth­er, and it is stacked up 2 feet high.

Who’s in charge of your seasonal reality?

Grow­ing up, my mom, bless her soul, used to describe her­self as a “Christ­mas per­son.” She dic­tat­ed every aspect of the hol­i­days, not only at home, but at church, where she co-opt­ed the dec­o­ra­tions for the whole church. 

And it was a huge church. There were not one but two Xmas trees, each 20 feet high. Mom would go nuts dec­o­rat­ing them, as dad and I climbed 25–30 foot high lad­ders to make her dreams reality.

One of her clas­sics was the Tree of Sin and The Tree of Sal­va­tion. The first was dec­o­rat­ed and lit in red (red apples, red tin­sel, and a big red ser­pent made out of gar­land.) The oth­er had white lights, white bows, and, wait for it, gold sprayed chick­en and turkey and chick­en wish­bones. You had to see it to believe it.

I won’t get into the dubi­ous Xtian sym­bol­ism of wish­bones. I will men­tion that when mom died, we were clean­ing out her clos­et and I found a locked file box. I picked the lock. Amongst her papers was a plas­tic bag, filled with a cou­ple hun­dred wish­bones! She had appar­ent­ly hoped I was going to let her loose in one of my church­es, and she’d stocked up for years!

Many peo­ple run them­selves ragged try­ing to be all and do all, with com­bined and blend­ed fam­i­lies dic­tat­ing a mad­den­ing pace, and under­ly­ing all of it is the hid­den message–which fam­i­ly do you like better?

We need to let go, and form our own year end, seasonal traditions.

There is noth­ing to be gained by enter­ing the fray, try­ing to “win” the “who spent the most?” con­test, spend­ing days and weeks try­ing to impress oth­ers. At the end of the day, we must breathe, slow down, and ask our­selves what we real­ly want. Exclu­sive of what oth­ers want, or demand of us.

The breaking of relationships

It is so that the famil­ial pres­sures exert­ed can tank relationships. 

I’m not sure if I’ve men­tioned Sandy, my first girl­friend. (I’ll write about her and “ledge-walk­ing” soon.)

The year I went off to Col­lege, Sandy was still in High School. She was also in Youth Group, and my mom and dad were the spon­sors. As you’ll remem­ber, mom dec­o­rat­ed the Church.

I got home for Xmas, and mom and Sandy were not speaking. 

Mom had got­ten the kids to col­lect jars, glue them togeth­er, and spray-paint them gold  —  they then became can­de­labra, with one or two placed below each stained glass win­dow… and there were a lot of windows. 

Sandy decid­ed that the can­de­labra would look bet­ter black. She was the pres­i­dent of the Youth Group, so she start­ed repainting.

Mom insist­ed that I sort Sandy out, so Sandy would not “Ruin Christ­mas with black can­de­labra”  —  to, in oth­er words, choose her over my girlfriend. 

At 18, that seemed reasonable. 

I went into the base­ment of the church. There Sandy sat, pissed as hell and spray­ing black paint every­where  —  much of which had set­tled, in a fine mist, all over her. 

I tried to con­vince her to join the “gold team”  —  I used log­ic, flat­tery, annoy­ance  —  every­thing  —  and final­ly gave up both on win­ning and on her. I walked away.

Over spray-paint­ed can­de­labra made out of emp­ty jars.

And noth­ing you are on about, pissed off about, or judg­ing oth­ers about is any more rel­e­vant than that, let me assure you.

Unrealistic Expectations

Often, peo­ple will try to make some point or anoth­er about recap­tur­ing the won­der of one’s first Xmas. The prob­lem with this is that you can’t.

The first one you remem­ber was when you were 3 or 4, and adults were run­ning the show. It was mag­ic back then because the stuff you wished for just showed up. And can­dy, cook­ies and Santa.

It truly is a time for 3‑year-olds.

Mag­ic is like San­ta, and we do out­grow it. Or we are sup­posed to. And yet… many are the peo­ple who “expect” things to hap­pen by mag­ic  —  to have their every wish grant­ed. And woe betide the sap that gets in their way!

We sug­gest that the “real” mag­ic might be sit­ting with a few of your near­est and dear­est, talk­ing, and shar­ing a meal. It’s not found in excess, run­ning to and fro, or mind­less engage­ment with peo­ple you don’t actu­al­ly like.

Some, times you get exactly what you ask for, and then discover you didn’t want it in the first place.

So, how are you, this year?

What did you hope for, this time last year?
How much of that has come to pass?
What might you have done dif­fer­ent­ly, to get dif­fer­ent results?
What are you doing now that you wish you had the courage or for­ti­tude to stop doing?

What would “sim­ple, Zen liv­ing” look like, if you gave your­self half a chance?

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