The Holidays Your Way
I love that line from The Night Before Christmas that reads "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there".
Mine are not hung with care. Mine are hastily thrown towards the fireplace, having previously been completely forgotten in the bottom of the ornaments box. Once I do manage to hang them, they fall down on a daily basis under the weight of - well, nothing since they are empty. I always wanted monogrammed stockings on the mantle. Until I got them. Somewhere along the way, I was told that having these stockings would be a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. A picture in a magazine. A holiday movie. I took that messaging to heart and got those stockings so that I could be merry. They are not currently making me merry. Where did I go wrong?
I should know better when it comes to the holidays. I should know that celebrating and doing what makes me happy doesn't have to fit anyone's mold. It can be whatever I want. My parents are a perfect example. So different in their approach to the holidays. I could have taken their divergent approaches to heart.
Mom is steady and measured, and very conservative with her budget. Dad is spontaneous and constantly seeking the wanted gift, regardless of price or frivolity. Mom shopped at her favorite department store, with a carefully crafted list from which she never deviated. It actually didn't matter what we asked for - she gave us what she wanted to give us. It was usually something we needed, and it was almost always something we would have never asked for. Scarves, gloves, an umbrella, maybe some underwear. As an adult any of those gifts are dandy. But as a 10-year old it wasn't that exciting. She probably marched right past the pretty little boxes of lip gloss collections or sparkly bracelets because they were not on her list. (For the record, my sisters and I would have deeply cherished lip gloss or bracelets from the department store).
Not my Dad - he wouldn't dare buy underwear. He took those lists we wrote with such detail and followed them to the letter. Any and every toy he chased down. He spent hours in line that year Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. If we asked for lip gloss, we got it. Mom wrapped gifts early in December and tucked them away until later. Dad shopped on Christmas Eve and wrapped gifts sometimes. Mom loved celebrating with eggnog and fruitcake and Christmas Eve service. Dad liked a pizza delivery, a bottle of Coca Cola and a holiday movie, or a western, which he argued was a holiday movie even if it wasn't. Different temperaments, different needs for a happy holiday. Still merry in their own way.
We are told how we should celebrate. Listen to just 30 minutes of those infuriatingly jolly holiday songs and you will believe that you are supposed to experience volumes of magic and enjoyment from the decorations and the glittery cards and the sugar cookies, and of course, find love, too. Oh - and it will start to snow just as everyone sits down for Christmas dinner. We are told through pictures and the Hallmark Channel that the holidays should be celebrated a certain way. We need certain traditions and events and presents in order to be happy.
News flash. We don't. Isn't it possible that by trying so hard to make our holidays look like someone else's, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to be happy on our own terms?
We spend time chasing what others believe makes for a lovely holiday and never figure out what actually makes us happy. And the season passes us by and we feel like we missed enjoying it to the fullest.
I like warm apple cider instead of eggnog. I like lots of wrapping paper variety, so I don't mind at all the clutter in the closet that creates. I prefer pop versions of Christmas songs over the church hymn standards. I don't want to stand in line to see Santa. And I don't want to bake cookies. I don't attend Christmas Eve service. But I love watching It's a Wonderful Life while wrapping gifts after the kids have gone to bed. I don't mess with bows - ever. I don't want to see a big Christmas tree or holiday decorations. And I don't want to shop at a Christmas store for more ornaments. We have enough ornaments, I do believe. I do things differently than my own family. I do things differently than the families on the Hallmark Channel. And there is nothing wrong with that.
You officially have my permission to do whatever you want to make your holidays merry and bright. You don't have to drink eggnog (thank God). You don't have to put bows on every present. You don't have to give presents. Though glitter is the gift that keeps on giving because it remains for months after the holiday, you can skip that, too. Unless you are certain that doing those things will make your holidays happier. And make you happier. And if you determine that they won't and they don't, then skip those traditions and start your own.
I give you permission. You actually don't need my permission but it feels nice to grant it. It's my holiday gift to you! Go ahead. Enjoy the holiday - your way.