By Roxanne Tellier
“I just feel so badly that my child will not have a Christmas like I did, as a child.”
“But it could be Great Aunt Thelma’s very last Hanukkah! It’s so unfair to deprive her of our presence!”
Yeah. No. This is not about the kids. The kids have many, many more Christmases in their future, and some will be good, and some will, for whatever reason, not be totally Hallmark. There will be horrible holidays in everyone’s future, because that’s how this thing called ‘Life’ works.
And it’s not about the seniors, most of whom are terrified that you might be bringing them the plague for the holidays. No, this funky stank you’re feeling and scenting is all you.
It’s OKAY to be sad about this crummy December. It’s normal to feel depressed that you can’t get together with your friends and family. It’s completely copacetic to regret not being able to share your traditional holiday goodies, dinners, spiced egg nog, and kisses under the mistletoe. This is.. yes, it’s a terrible year. It’s the Grinchiest Christmas ever. It’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus” nasty. And that was pretty nasty, even by 1974 standards.
It’s the pits! It’s the most awfullest awful! It’s the terrible, horrible, no good, worst December ever! It truly is!
There are restaurants, businesses, and the people who work them who were counting on salvaging this year with a massive influx of sales, and that’s not gonna happen. There are millions of people in the U.S. who were counting on their elected representatives pulling out the stops and getting them something… anything! … to get them thru the last of this year, who are already struggling, frequenting food banks, and praying that they are not evicted on January 1st.
All of this is for real happening, while you can’t get your hair done, a new holiday picture, or hang out at the mall. You can’t go to the gym, and when you go to the library, all the staff are wearing masks and they look like they hate you for wanting more books that they’ll have to disinfect before anyone else can read them.
What is this, 1918?
So it’s one hundred per cent okay to be sad, bummed out, depressed, angry, frustrated, and feeling out of control. Even if you’re a grown up, and supposedly the person in charge of the family emotions. Maybe even ESPECIALLY if you are that person.
Wallow in that mud! Splash in the acid of your anger! Put on your steel toed boots and kick the curb! Throw something you have always hated against the wall, until it breaks and you’re finally able to put it into the garbage can without guilt! You are ALLOWED to feel all of those emotions. Not for hours – that would be counterproductive. But for .. I dunno, what’s good for you? Five minutes? Ten minutes where you stomp and fume and yell into your pillow? Cuz even grownups are allowed to do that, you know.
And then, once you’ve let off some of that steam, cast your mind back to Christmases past. Like last year, when maybe you realized that you’re tired of doing all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, planning, cooking, and prepping. Remember the Christmas when you were totally broke, and felt guilty about not being able to shower your loved ones with gifts? Remember the Christmas when someone else was broke, and didn’t shower YOU with gifts? What about that Christmas when you lost your job? Or your relationship was breaking down? Or someone you adored was in hospital and you didn’t know if they’d make it? Or maybe a time when it was you who didn’t know if you’d still be around to ring in the New Year.
Remember all the years you couldn’t find that special gift, even though you battled through the frenzied crowd of shoppers at the mall, and you had a huge blister on your ankle, and then, overheated but starting to get cold, waited way too long for a bus to come? Remember when you gritted your teeth and swore that if you heard one more chorus of “Silver Bells,” you would start lashing out at passerbys with a sharpened candy cane? Remember all those years when politicians claimed that their opponents were bent on stealing Christmas? Remember that year when you were working so hard on making everything perfect for the holidays, that you nearly drove yourself into a nervous breakdown, and then found yourself just losing it on the very kids you wanted to gift with a wonderful day, and then hating yourself for losing your temper when all you really wanted was for them to have a special memory? (Oh, they’ll remember it. They’ll remember it long after that expensive toy is dust.)
Remember the big holiday feasts where those relatives that you only saw once a year, showed up and you remembered why you only saw them once a year? Remember how the kids tore through all the presents you’d given them, on Christmas morning, and then whined that the one present you’d missed was the one present that mattered? Remember how you swore that next year, next Christmas, there’d be a ceiling on what was spent on gifts, and it would be stress free, dammit! Or else!
Remember trying to remind ourselves the Seussian truth, that Christmas can’t be bought? Christmas lives in the heart, not the wallet.
What I’m trying to say is that there have been crummy Decembers before, and there will be crummy Decembers to come. As much as we would love every holiday season to be picture perfect and suitable for framing, it’s the rare one that hits all the high notes properly. And if we look really hard, there’s nearly always someone in the vicinity who’s hiding their tears and a broken heart behind their Christmas smile.
Stuff happens. Always has. Always will. Yes, we are all in agreement; this particular holiday season wins the Worst Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/Diwali/Las Posadas and Chinese New Year ever. EVER. Combined! It does. We all agree.
So be angry. Be sad. You are allowed to feel that way. Watch an old movie and blame your tears on Clarence getting his wings. It’s okay.
Because, at the end of the day, Christmas is really about spending time with the people we love and cherish the most. It’s not about the presents. It’s not even about the food. It’s not about one-upmanship. It’s not about arguing with Great Uncle Bert who is never going to stop being a bigot, so why get your stomach in a knot?
You are allowed to be upset that this holiday season will not fulfill all of your own hopes and dreams. You don’t have to say that it’s about the kids. Sometimes it’s okay for YOU to be the sad child.
At least for a few minutes.
Then it’s back to adulting.
Unless you can find an adultier adult. Cuz adulting is hard. That’s why it’s called adulting, not childing.
Happy Ho Hos! Merry Crimble! And Assorted Seasonings to you all!