Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The holidays.

As much as I don't want to admit it, I'll be glad when Christmas is over.

The holidays always stir up awkward and complicated feelings for me. Combine that with the guilt-laden practice of exchanging gifts and the stress of shopping... well, you've got a perfect storm of aggravation.

I'm going to be honest with you -- I've come to despise the gift aspect of Christmas. I don't expect people to give me gifts and I don't want to spend endless hours buying them for others. The disgusting stench of commercialism has completely disintegrated my ideal of the holiday.

What do I envision as the perfect Christmas?

Greetings Cards sent to loved ones. Homes and businesses dressed in lights and ribbons. Uproarious feasts filled with great food and merriment. Stories regaled around a fire. Egg Nog and warm cups of spiced tea. Staying up late to watch It's a Wonderful Life by the colorful glow of the Christmas tree. Kissing your sweetheart. Love.

The gift-giving never really enters into my equation. Am I ok with gifts? Yes, of course. We should all feel compelled to give tokens of gratitude to our family and friends. These gifts should be meaningful and have purpose. They should speak of the compassion and thankfulness deep inside our hearts. Instead, our modern Christmas is filled with frenzied sales at the local department store and mall. "SALE SALE SALE" they scream at us. "BUY NOW, SUPPLIES LIMITED" we're convinced of. Countless droves of gift-givers stand in endless lines for discounted televisions and game consoles. Average human beings are reduced to savages. We lose our sense of companionship, our sense of dignity. These things we spend inflated amounts of time and money on are not gifts. They're just possessions.

In our modern times, gifts have lost their sense of purpose. Instead, they're mechanisms by which we try to impress each another. They are badges of honor, stating "I gave this gift, look at me! I'm somebody special!"

If you're in my circle of family and friends, I don't want you to give me anything. What do I want?

Nothing. Just be yourself. Pick up the phone every once in a while. Write me a letter. Let's go watch a movie. Enjoy a cup of tea with me.

And, if you have a gift you really want to give me, that's all the better. I probably want to give you a gift, too. Not a possession, but an actual gift. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes -- a book with a personal story behind it, an old clock, a letter, a bottle of fine Scotch, a hug. These things are drenched with nostalgia, wonder and love.

As I said, the holidays are a difficult time for me. I think about the Christmases that have come before. Assuredly, I miss the loved ones I can no longer see. Often times, my mind wanders to Christmas at my maternal grandparents' home. Oh, how I long for the holidays there -- the record player spinning old Christmas tunes, the large silver bells hanging over the mirror in the living room, the whimsical old ornaments on the Christmas tree. I'd watch all the great holiday programs Grandpa had recorded on his VCR. Even now, I can remember the smell of all those tapes. Cousin Alex... I don't know how many times I watched a home movie of you when you were young. I wish I knew what happened to that tape. You were a marvelous little baby!

Christmas just isn't the same.

There's no Christmas tree in my home. No lights. No decorations.

Really - I'm not kidding.

I've lost my sense of celebration at the holidays. In it's place is the aforementioned aggravation. The worst part is that I want to celebrate Christmas. I love to send cards to friends and family. I take great joy in making someone else feel happy during this time of year. Yet, when it comes to rejoicing in the delight of the season in my own heart, I just can't seem to find the motivation.

The Ghost of Christmas Past has come and gone. Where is the Ghost of Christmas Present?

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