Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Getting my Grinch on

Today, on my drive into the office, I was channel surfing the radio. The talk on NPR just didn't engage me. I wasn't up to redneck humor on the rock station. The college station that plays jazz most mornings was doing some bland Christian contemporary. I headed over to the oldies and heard Rockin'' Around the Christmas Tree.

It's a good thing I don't own a gun, because I was ready to go Elvis and shoot out the car radio. I know that the holidays are here. Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow. My family's celebration will be eating out either Wednesday or Friday so the mother-in-law can have "everyone together." For the most part I get along with all my in-laws, but putting them together in one room isn't fun for anyone. That also leaves me with coming up with some way to celebrate the holiday on its official day that doesn't involve lots of food. Can I get through that before I have to endure having Christmas cheer stuffed down my throat every five minutes for an entire freaking month?

I've come to believe that there are actually two Christmases. One is the religious holy day with a beautiful contemplative season spent in prayerful preparation. It has never failed to provide me with hope and an uplifted spirit. The other is a frenzied, commercialized way to flog yourself with unrealistic expectations that ultimately holds all the charm of a two year old in the middle of a tantrum that even she isn't enjoying. I wish the two could be separated.

I love the decorations and the beauty they provide. The Pagan roots of a celebration in the dark heart of winter make sense. We need to trot out beautiful things and renew our childlike awe of light, color and warmth when the world around us has become cold and dreary. I hate the compulsion to spend more than can be afforded. I hate the sense of lack that creates in me. If my gift to someone is obviously "less" than what they gave me, I feel like I've failed in some way, even though I know that's stupid. I hate the weeks of worrying about how I'm going to handle this and wishing I could do more. New job and commission income means money is definitely on my mind, and I wish that weren't so. It all distracts from what is so beautiful and meaningful about Christmas to me.

It's the beauty and the meaning I want to experience and to share. Can I just pass on the rest?

Since this is a new blog, I want to state here, that when I write about religion, it's because I'm figuring things out for myself. I'm not proselytizing, trying to convince someone to leave their religious beliefs for mine, but my spiritual life is a large part of my overall life, and I share bits and pieces of my life here.


Blogger Theresa Williams said...

I feel exactly the same way, Cynthia. Some years I've let all the commercial hullabaloo really get me down. This year, for some reason, I haven't. I put up some Halloween lights inside the house in October and decorated one of my large house jades with miniature christmas bulbs. Then Allen, who has been very Grinchy for several years, put Christmas lights on our back overhang a couple of weeks ago. The lights have given us such a sense of peace and joy. I've given up on radio for the most part, most TV, too. That's probably why the spirit hasn't been squashed out of me yet this year. I like your disclaimer about talking about religion. I just posted something on my blog about "God" and I hope nobody gets offended by anything I said. Happy Thanksgiving. Belt back a toddy and think of me. Love, Theresa

November 22, 2005 1:17 AM  
Blogger jennifer said...

Oh this one hit home for me, especially this year. I want to relax and breathe, like the ones who will be descending to my home will. They will laugh and share stories. Meanwhile I will be sweating, running, doing 14 things at once. And the thought of it all so overwhelms me that I just cannot muster even a grain of happy. No matter how much I try. No matter how much I want to. I used to love the bustle. Now I want to escape it entirely.

November 22, 2005 7:36 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I have to host Thanksgiving this year, but I've decided I'm just not going to fuss. I want to have fun at my own party, not spend the day in the kitchen overwhelmed by fixing a huge meal. None of us needs to eat that much anymore anyway.

I've been listneing to "seasonal" music since Halloween...but the CD's I play this time of year are more "Holiday mood music" than actual Christmas carols. I'm not quite ready to hear Gene Autry doing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer..." Lisa :-]

November 22, 2005 3:06 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

I know exactly what you mean about the commercialism having the potential to suck the joy out of the other part of the Christmas holiday. I too am relious and the past few years I have focused more and more on that aspect. This year money will be tight and I am thinking of making my favorite music onto CDs for friends. My gifts will be home from the heart and those who don't appreciate that won't ruin my day. I usually get clothes that don't fit myself. This year I plan to bask in the sunlight of God's love and not sweat the little stuff. I like Theresa's idea with the lights. They always put me in a festive mood and make me feel peaceful at the same time. Happy Thanksgiving and hope you're feeling better.

November 22, 2005 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I used to feel this way but lately I've rethought it all and now I truly believe that when someone gives you something, they do it out of love and if they are doing it for the right reasons, then they won't be measuring what you gave them against what they gave you. At least I hope most people look at things like that.

November 22, 2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger ckays1967 said...

If I got my wish for this Christmas Charley and I would sneak off to our local mission that I helped paint last Saturday when my heart was broken and just work there all day.

There are children living there.

Now that would be true Christmas.

You talk about God all you want....it is your Blog.

November 22, 2005 7:30 PM  
Blogger Vicky said...

My dear Cynthia: This is what I did last Christmas and what I shall do again this year. I bought a goat through Heifer International to give to a needy family in a Third World country and gave it in the name of everyone I work with. It makes so much more sense, makes me feel good and the recipients feel good, instead of frantically searching for some meaningless thing that I can't really afford for all those people.

This Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for being able to walk away from a car accident I caused by being careless last night. (I'm sore and stiff, but otherwise ok physically. The guilt is another thing...) And for being with my family at my sister's. And for meeting my dear online friends, you of course included. Do what you feel is right and the hell with the rest of the crap!

Happy, T-G, my friend,

Love, Vicky

November 22, 2005 8:23 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

I have moved way back from the materialism of the holiday (that I no longer consider myself christian helps give me an excuse to do that, but really not as much of an excuse as you would think). I have found that trying to push way the materialize is a freeing act. Gift giving should only come from the heart, not be from a place of expectation, and the gift that is from the heart is measured in much greater worth than one measured by dollars.

I am blessed to with with a partner that also understands that well.

Peace, Virginia

November 22, 2005 8:31 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I was reading your journal and I had to chuckle because I recently wrote a simular entry. Stop by!

Happy Holidays;)

November 23, 2005 1:57 PM  

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