Monday, December 11, 2017

Relentless cheer? I'll be in my pillow fort.

Sure, the songs say it's the most wonderful time of the year, but I often find the holiday season to be challenging and stressful. This isn't just because I find it very triggering for grief, it's because I have to deal with so many people all of the time and they are telling me I should be happy because it's Christmas. It's harder to find the quiet time I need to function well and I'm more likely to feel guilty about claiming it as needed. I'm not sure why, all I really need to do is go home and make a pillow fort, but something about the relentlessness of it all makes it seem as if I'm being a spoilsport by taking the time I need for my own mental health. This year in particular is difficult because it feels as though I am walking on cultural glass all the time; we have become so ready to demonize one another.

I love giving gifts. I love celebrating with the people I love. I love the foods and some of the music and even the lights. I just don't want to feel as if there is a mandate to consume and smile on demand.

None of this is to say I want to be a Scrooge. Most of the time I'm reasonably cheerful and relish the joy of others. If you love Christmas, that's great! I just don't always want to love it with you or at least not in technicolor-90-decibels-comply-comply-comply.

Maybe this is because I miss Kevin fiercely this time of year. Maybe it's because, as a non-Christian, I feel a bit excluded from the festivities. Maybe it's because I worry that if I actually wish someone a Happy Hanukah I'll both be at risk and will make someone else feel embarrassed. Maybe it's just because I'm tired of the constant messages that we should be HAPPY!

I don't always want to be merry and bright. Sometimes I just want to curl up with a cup of tea and read. Other times I find I can savor a bad mood for a while and want to be quietly grumpy. Sometimes in the privacy of my own home, I might even let my lower lip stick out a little and stomp while I walk. And sometimes I just want to marvel at the stars in the winter sky and be grateful for the world without having to ascribe a particular meaning to it.

Do we really need a holiday to be nice to one another? Must we wait for one time of the year to spend time with those we love? Is it required that we schedule cheer by the calendar? I hope not. I'd like to think I am kind to people most of the year. I try to spend time with those I love. My calendar is full of all kinds of reminders of joy. So, for the moment, you can find me over here, wrapped in a blanket, idly reading a book and maybe nibbling on just a little bit of peppermint bark while I ponder just how many latkes I will make on tonight.
(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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