One Christmas song keeps playing over and over again inside my head and I want it to stop. Yes, I like some holiday tunes, but this song reeks of expectation that may or may not be fulfilled, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” an over sweet voice exclaims.
Is it? I ask myself, the most wonderful time of the year? Whether the song is sung by Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Amy Grant, or Kylie Minogue, the lyrics annoy me.
My favorite holiday is Halloween. The expectations are lower. Pumpkins and mums are optional. Spooky ghosts hanging from trees, witches, and tombstones liven up front porches and yards. On Halloween night I enjoy watching the neighborhood kids parading down the street in their costumes and exchanging smiles when I proffer a large bowl of candy. “Take two of three,” I say and they deliberate on whether they’d prefer two miniature Babe Ruth bars or a packet of Reese’s pieces and a packet of M & M’s.
Christmas, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, by contrast, are all about creating an ideal family tableau where you’re surrounded by a large multi-generational family and everyone has managed to find the perfect gifts and the perfect foods. Magically everyone is on vacation, no work or household responsibilities exist and you’re expected to create a forever memory to share with the world. But what if that just is not happening for you?
I question the illusion. Certainly, I’m done with over stressing about buying gifts. Yes, there was a time when I bought a Hanukkah gift for every night, filled stocking, and bought several items for each member of my extended family –sweaters, mugs, books, tools, cookware etc. But after all those presents were opened, how much was needed or used? Now I try to keep it simple. My husband and I select what we want for ourselves in advance of the holidays and purchase it at our leisure. Maybe we surprise each other with an activity promise rather than an item. As for my children and grandchildren—one, two or three items is best. In some situations, (international residents) gift certificates work better. I know some large families, draw names and just buy one gift for a sibling or cousin, and that’s another good idea. As for big family gatherings— holiday travel is expensive and crowds are large. And then there can also be competition between in-law’s as to who is visiting when. Why not wait until January or February or March for extended family visits, when things die down. Do what works for your schedule.
The winter holidays are supposed to be about hope and promise. The wreath on the door, a circle, is a symbol of the interconnectedness of humanity and nature. I’m not a Christian, but my favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night” because I love the imagery of the infant cradled in his mother’s arms and the expectant gathering of shepherds and wise men following a shining star in the heavens.. The menorah in Hanukkah also emphasizes the concept of light and faith to persevere, even under siege, when times get tough.
Every New Year I make at least one resolution, maybe more, a goal I set out for myself to accomplish. I’ve got a long list of unfinished projects, and like everyone else, I sometimes feel sad when reflecting on the goals I’ve been unable to reach—yet. But a New Year means new opportunities and a fresh slate.
Seasons Greetings and thank you for reading. Stay calm and all will be bright if we approach 2023 with positivity, patience, and compassion.
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