One week until Christmas and I’m still not in the holiday spirit. I’ve tried. Really I have. I’ve tried listening to Christmas music at work. I tell people “Happy Holidays!” when I’m out and about. I’ve even worn holiday-themed shirts that only see the light of day once a year. Nothing helps. I’m just not in the mood.
For me, the holidays have always been a let down. The pressure is what I can’t stand. The pressure to “feel joy,” to buy, to wrap, to bake, to send cards, to endure the hypocrisies of the season, to not be a Humbug – it’s really not fair. Maybe if I didn’t have a mountain of medical debt, or feel like I’ve spent the last six months on tumble dry, I might feel differently, but I doubt it. Once my kids grew up and stopped believing in Santa Claus, I just lost interest.
Over time, this season has become more about celebrating the end of another year, than an exercise in rampant consumerism or a religious observation. All the expensive whitewashing in the world won’t hide my pagan roots. Enduring forced togetherness and holiday cheer is a lot easier when seen in the proper light. The year is over, another is about to begin, all hail the new year! Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind. Problem is, this hasn’t been a great year for me. It’s been a year of great stress, fear and uncertainty. That makes the festivity somewhat less sanguine and more Panglossian.
Battling Cancer isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it does take a lot of energy and has a tendency to create chaos where once was calm. I’ve lost friends because of this pesky gut goblin. The question of whether or not they were real friend to begin with aside, it still hurts. I’ve had to change the way I eat, the way I sleep, the way I interact with people, the way I work. In fact, I am ending this year much less the person I have worked so hard to become and infinitely more the person I’ve never wanted to be.
As such, I don’t really feel like celebrating 2018. I’d just like it to be over, please. And if that means hiding behind a Humbug, so be it. The future has always been uncertain. My pragmatism has always served me well in getting through whatever that future holds. This year, however, it is with a great deal of trepidation that I transition from one disagreeable year to the promise of another. That’s enough to bring out the Grinch in even the most stalwart of celebrants.
There’s still a week left. Rome may not have been built in a day, but the Bible says the universe was created in less time. All I can do is be mindful of others and practice presence in everything I do. With luck, my melancholy won’t be too much of a drag on the season and life will continue extemporaneously and habitually – and hopefully with a lot less chaotic stress – into the new year.
Hey, a guy can aspire, can’t he?