Some years it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.Posted: December 21, 2013
I can’t point to any specific event or occurrence that has single-handedly robbed me of the Christmas spirit this year; just stuff, an accumulation of stuff that won’t magically go away because of the holidays. No trips to Kentucky or elsewhere this year.
There are about a billion websites offering solutions to cure the non-Christmas feeling. Basically the prescription is: “STOP FEELING DOWN – JUST FORCE YOURSELF TO BE HAPPY – IT’S EASY.” (Um, no, it’s not.) Or focus on the Baby Jesus in the manger: “REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.” They mean well; their prescription is to live in the moment of Christmastime and shove all those other issues and problems aside. That’s easier for some people than others. It’s hard to custom-order your joy, partitioned off to one two-week period in the dead of winter. Worse still when you know you should be feeling it, and you’re not.
Christmas doesn’t make problems take wings and fly away. They’ll all come rushing back on December 26th. My sister says I need to get better at “compartmentalizing,” which I always thought was a bad thing to do!
Right now I’m just not as excited about Christmas as I would like to be, as I think I ought to be. Like so many other things, our expectations of Christmas change as we get older. The feeling I miss is the one of joy and wonder. The only wonder I have is if work and responsibility and regret and disappointment have permanently beaten that out of me.
I think you have to take the Christmas-y feeling as it comes, or not. All you can do is what your heart feels like doing. Don’t try to force it. Let others around you enjoy the season, and enjoy their joy even if you have a hard time finding yours. The people who know you best understand and don’t mind giving you space to just feel what you feel. Eventually, it may come back to you. If not, at least you have the memories of a Christmas well-spent if not well-felt.
Christmas may be about giving yourself time to stop, to focus on something different from daily life throughout the year. In her brilliant blog Tiny Buddha Lori Deschene writes that we each have a light, but in order to access them at times like this we need to take a deep breath and see beyond all the weight we carry around. We need to clear our heads and hearts of worries and problems, and choose to be fully where we are. That’s never easy for me, but maybe that’s another leftover childhood expectation of Christmas that needs to change: that the “Christmas spirit” will just swoop down and take over without any effort on our parts. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy for my parents to get into the Christmas spirit, but they always managed it for us kids (and the ubiquitous other relatives).
Take it as it comes. Aim for a Christmas well-spent. Treat yourself well, as well as you treat others, despite the worries and problems that Christmas won’t magically erase. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.