How the Scrinch found Christmas
My family and coworkers would agree – I’m something of a cross between Scrooge and the Grinch. (Scrinch?) Every year, I grumble about the impending holidays … and every year, the holiday frenzy seems to come earlier. And every year, I shut down the holiday music at work idea, much to the dismay of a Christmas-loving colleague who (due to a passion for crafting) can tell you on any given day out of 365, “How many days until Christmas?”
Having learned to “deconstruct” my cravings, I’ve also started to dissect my feelings about situations to which I have a visceral reaction – positive or negative – and so here are my musings on the subject.
I don’t really despise the holidays – I just dislike the commercial aspects of this time of year: Buy buy buy! You need more stuff! We must drive the economy to higher and higher peaks! This year, our local chain grocer had a Christmas aisle installed around the time Halloween candies went on display (that’s right – on display before, not on drastic markdown after Halloween)…. Ugh.
As anyone with children knows, “doing” the holidays most often involves gifts – children are the ultimate consumers (why else would marketers take aim at their tender little hearts and minds and make sure that even a toddler can identify the golden arches?) and they can easily drive their parents to open their wallets wide this time of year.
My family would probably not qualify as Christian: I am only partially joking when I say that my PRC-born husband is a “child of Mao” and believes that religion is the opiate of the masses and that my children “went over to the dark side” very young. I would probably call myself an agnostic or maybe a syncretist with Christian tendencies, but we have dutifully put up a tree and exchanged gifts every year, something I in which I found some pleasure because it gave pleasure to others.
This year, though, I just could not summon up even an ounce of “holiday spirit” – that’s right, my tree is still not up, my holiday letter unwritten and therefore unsent, the gifts largely unbought and therefore unwrapped, my holiday baking undone (and therefore – blessedly – not on my lips or my hips).
My children looked at me in shock when I announced (only partly in jest) that “Christmas isn’t happening this year.”
What was this about, I wondered. Was I just overworked and overtired? Was I really the Scrinch?
Then suddenly it hit me: there is absolutely nothing – literally “no-THING” – I need or want this year. Oh, I’m all for world peace, healthy food for all, social justice, etc., but I also realize that those are not things you can buy – they are a state of being you must work toward, perhaps your entire life, perhaps without seeing them come into being in your lifetime. And yet if you’re lucky enough (as I am) to work in a career that let’s you “be the change,” that can be enough.
I am 100% at peace with my life as it is right now – I have enough, I have all I need, I have much, much more than most people on this earth. And suddenly, I’ve found the true meaning of Christmas: my lack of holiday spirit is not a lack at all; it’s the exact opposite – complete joy and contentment.
In case you’re wondering – that holiday letter? I’m technically off the hook since Max is from China and we can send it out in time for Chinese New Year. And yes, we will put up the tree this weekend, there will be a few small items for the kids along with one big “experience” gift apiece, I will allow a very little bit of Christmas music (they can choose…but only between the Pentatonix and Trace Adkins), and I will probably eat too much chocolate.
And it will be enough.