Friday, December 11, 2009

Season Gotcha Down?

So, I've noticed that a number of people in (and in some cases, adjacent to) my world are feeling somewhat down and out. Not an unusual sentiment during this time of year. I have a few opinions about this (gasp - I can hear your shock from here).

It would seem there are a few different takes on the holiday season - or for the purpose of this post, Christmas. Some are humbug-ish by nature, some find themselves emotionally (not to mention financially) overwhelmed. Some use this time of year to take stock ... much of the time not really liking what they find.

Personally, I really love Christmas ... well, I love the romanticized idea of it. I love the magic that shakes its little fairy ass all over the kids ... the idea of togetherness and a general feeling of goodwill. The alcohol ... that could be my favorite part. The trouble I have with Christmas is that the idea couldn't be farther from reality if it lived on another planet... in an another universe ... and an alternate dimension.

It's a corporate, commercialized, cash cow - designed to empty your soul as fast as your wallet. All in the name of a tradition that we have managed to mangle beyond recognition. My kids sit in front of their little cartoons and what not and all I hear for the entire time is: Oooh I wish I had that .. oh and THAT .... mommy, mommy .... com'ere ... you gotta see THIS Ohhhhh I WANT IT!!!! Makes me wanna smack 'em upside their heads. And it is MY FAULT. I could vomit.

Don't get me wrong - we are Christmas people, baby. We have been likened to the Griswolds in years past.  AND - we are every bit as touched in the head when it comes to this season. My husband LOVES the idea of Christmas... each year, trying to top his last ... more lights, more tacky crap in, on and around my house than the one before. It's a little sick, really. We keep Christmas in plastic totes ... you know the ones I mean ... with the hinges and the 'chest-like' design? Yeah ... wanna take a guess at how many o' those puppies came up from the basement already? 9... that's NINE. This does not include my dishes, as they live in the cupboard over the fridge when not in use, the tree stuff (it is still to come) or the outside lights - as they were up before November ended (not on - just up). Nine, people. It looks like Santa's lab 'sploded all up in here. The sad thing is that every year, I set myself up for disappointment.

{If anyone is looking for some hypocrisy ... look no farther than the preceding two paragraphs - Speaking of OXYMORONS ... I can't help but laugh at the fact that my very own writing betrays me.}

I remember when I was in my early teens - our house was party central, especially at Christmas time. Don't get me wrong, my folks were not throwing bashes all the time, but when a party erupted (and they did )... it was really great. See, my mom was your usual kind of mom. She worked, she put up with a husband that was much worse than any teen could have been and she essentially raised two families - by herself. First me ... and later, my two sisters. She was uptight and stressed out and yelled - a lot. But at Christmas ... aww man ... it was divine ... heh - look at me all ironic. She and my step father put their holiday hats on and played nice. He was like Mr freakin' Christmas (once all the inconvenient work was completed - often by Mom ... or one of her slaves). Then the booze'd flow and our neighbors would pop by ... when the girls were really young, there was one of 'em that dressed up as Santa every year and did 'the rounds'. It was cool. Mom would inevitably start singing ... and all was right with the world.

I want that feeling back so bad, I can still taste the egg nog. I have not experienced it again since I moved away from home. Not that I don't psych myself up for it each and every year. It just always seems to ... well ... fall sadly short of my expectations.

Part of the problem is that although admittedly, I am an incredibly funny and oh so totally kewl chickadee (shudDUP - am so!!), I am socially stunted. I'm damaged goods ... rife with paranoia and worry over every teeny nuance. I don't know 'my place' in a friendship anymore. Take last year, for example - I wanted to try to force a little cheer. I planned a party ... a couple of weeks before the actual holiday. I ran the weekend by the folks that I had invited and most felt they would be able to come. Had everyone shown, it would have been rockin' ... only one couple  did ... and they were the ONLY folks that had a baby ... a six week old baby, I might add. They came though. I had 5 trays of jell-o shooters made... not to mention the copious amounts of food. Out of a possible 40 odd people, one couple showed. I was wrecked. I'm talkin' - cut down to my bones. In fact, the woman who has been my friend for 20 odd years ... and lives only a short distance away never even called to say she wouldn't be coming. It begs the question(s) ... do I have my expectations too high? Do I smell funny? (Well, I suppose y'all couldn't really answer that) Am I as annoying as I sound in my own head? Is it my kids? My dog? Hubs? Or do people just not really care anymore? I have been a 'no show' a couple of times. I call ... I will say that much. But (other than baby-sitting malfunctions) my reasons for not showing somewhere have more to do with my own insecurity than any other thing you could conceive. That would lead one to the conclusion that I cause my own misery ... aw man - I am waaay off track here - sorry.

What I have found, since becoming the grown up is that I put these incredibly unrealistic expectations on myself. I strive to achieve Martha-fuckin-Stewart-ness. Why Bambi? Why? I run myself ragged shopping, wrapping, carding, mailing, cleaning, cooking, decorating and oh, yeah ... working full time and raising a family. By the time the big day comes ... I am too tired to even pretend to enjoy it. (Holy schnappin' assholes - I've been researching craft ideas to do with my kids ... AS IF! I think I have a condition.) Christmas Eve is something of a chore, and yet year after year I tell myself it is my favorite day of the year ... I REALLY want it to be. We have our big dinner then. We attempt (and usually fail) to go to church. Then we have to wrangle our children to sleep - which let's face it, is tough on a night that DOESN'T herald the most magical pay off of a kid's life. After they FINALLY drift off ... well then the real work begins.

One of my best Christmas Eve's ever was when my girlfriend and her recently seperated hubby  (yeah - 'the' couple I had been a part of at one time) managed to get their shit together for the night and we were all together wrapping pressies and stuffing stockings. It was just the bestest night - evah ... mind you, I was fried outta my ever lovin' gourd ... but man it was a good night! This was prior to my hubs and I dating.

Perhaps that's all I need ... change out the mistletoe with some weed ... I'ma make it allllright. Damn kids ... spoilin' my fun ... stupid responsibility!!!

My plan? Well in previous years, it has been to drink. I usualy end up wound so tight that the slightest aggrevation will set me off like a big ol' ballon that has been recently un-knotted. This year, there will be no company on Christmas Eve. Gamma will be here, but I intend to prepare as much of the meal ahead of time as possible. I should have my gifties taken care of next weekend and when all that prep work fails ... I guess I'll just have to drink ... faster. OH GAWD - I am AWFUL. My poor kids. I want it for them, that magic ... I just have to find the balance. I'm running out of time - I need to find it soon.

I would say I haven't done much to solve anyone else's woes ... but pehaps just 'knowing' your misery has company ...? I really wish I didn't hear the old addage: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" echoing in my stupid head so often ... but it is painfully true.

I'll likely get a lashing for even saying this, but I want the 'religoius' experience. I want to give of myself ... like volunteer at a food bank or something of the like. I want to feel the goodness that Christmas is supposed to mean... and I want my children to experience that, too. I know that it isn't hard to find others in need ... what I find so hard is that I am geared to think in that old "me me me" way, I lose sight of the things that this season really stands for and honestly, that is what makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. A warm and tingly that Captain 'n' Pepsi just can't replicate.

On that note, I will point out that we have only 17 more sleeps until the big day. I think I forgot to spend the little bit of change under my couch ... should go have a boo and see if it is still there.

Bahh Broke-Bug!!!


Dag Nabbit said...

I am amazed.

Not by the fact that your christmas fails to meet your expectations, or that you have a magicish (I made that up) view of what Christmas is like, but by the similarities between people. For example, I felt like it was me talking when you say you don't know your place in a friendship anymore.
The story of the party where many people were invited and no one showed is also nearly identical to how I'd have written it, if I were as in touch with my upset as you.
What's the answer? Used to be weed, maybe that's why Xanax is so popular? Weed for grownups?
I can't help noticing that the really successful party holders are the ones who don't give a fuck if someone goes home with their cd's, spouse, or pieces of their house. Maybe total fucking apathy is the way to make a christmas magical. :D

ileficio to you (it's your word verification but it sound sorta latin greetingy)

The Real Me said...

Hello? Are you IN my brain? This reads like a Christmas in my life... Minus the kids of course.

Every year I plan parties where I put in a Martha Stewart Sized effort only to end up drinking with my Husband and my Best friend wondering why the hell those skinny bitches never came.

Every year I have this romanticized version of Christmas eve where we have a fire and laugh and share some holiday cheer. And for sure it happens, about 50% of the time. The other 50% someone wants to go to bed early, someone drank too much and is loud and cranky (sometimes the same someone)
Sometimes I feel like its the effort we put in that causes the lack of lustre we get out of the whole she-bang. But then, if you don't put in the effort the magic wouldn't be able to happen quite how you want it to!
It may not be quite as romantic as we all hope it will be, but its still Christmas, the magic is just need to stop and breath in a hot rum to feel it...

Ok, My word verification is shit. Now thats just creepy.

brite said...

Sweetie...your kids will have a perfect Christmas (providing you and the hub don't have a knock down, screaming fist sorry that's my past IMing me)and you know what...just look at their faces when they see the tree all lit up, or dancing around to some goofy carol.
Until I had the Max, I just kinda avoided Christmas, but he made Christmas fabulous in a way that it had never been before. (Except for that one where my brother and I did a whack of LSD...that was pretty good).Anyways, relax, enjoy the sparkly, expect no more than the thrill of hearing your favorite carol on Christmas Eve.It'll all be good...promise.

The Management said...

I've come to the conclusion that it's ok for me to think of me at Christmas. It's my busiest time of year, I usually have to travel to wherever it's being held, and I have my own family now. Kids will love Christmas no matter what so just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Amethyst Anne said...

I think perhaps part of the emphasis and expectation we put on Christmas comes from what we remember as kids, or adults.
That one perfect moment in time.

What we don't see/remember/know, is that it was probably just as frustrating/upsetting/stressful for our parents who wanted it to be special too. And it was,special and it is special for your kids too because its what we remember!
Dani my friend, I do not believe you when you say that you lose sight of the goodness that is Christmas. The part that makes Christmas good is not what you do on one day of the year- but every day and you have that in spades!!
Cheers my dear!! Sit back and enjoy!

Xtreme said...

Dear girl, it seems to me that you're trying really hard (unintentionally) to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you try too hard you will hurt your brain. It's the old squeezing sand thing, the harder you try, the less happy you're going to be. Sometimes ya gotta roll with shit, go with the flow as it were, and if that doesn't work, light something on fire.

"Take my advice. I don't use it anyhow"