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.
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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.
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.
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.
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?