This is the season I often feel shame for my feelings about the holidays. I have not always felt this way and maybe I won’t in in the future. Still, I feel like a party pooper or a grinch because I just don’t care anymore. People like to tell me that it is because I don’t have kids at home or because Jim died. Not sure about those answers. While there was a level of fun and tradition that we set up with our children, I think that it was just an educational practice for our kids. I believe these holidays are for adults. We are the ones who reflect, rehearse and set the tone for those around us. Adults are the ones called to elevate the Lord, plan gatherings and create traditions.
I remember as a kid when something sort of switched in me. It had nothing to do with the Santa Claus thing, but I can recall opening my gifts and there were less “toys” and packages to open. Not only that, like a happy meal, the euphoria of the morning dissipated more quickly than it had when I was younger. As the oldest of four children, I could see my siblings with more of the childish fun stuff and I literally thought that I was past the best of the gifts. It had been as good as it would be and now I had joined the older crowd who didn’t have much to open and most of those gifts came off a list rather than a surprise! There were still surprises of course and the fun of the Christmas holiday was still real, but like Cindy Lou Who I wondered if there wasn’t something more.
When I was grieving the loss of Jim, the season from Thanksgiving through Easter felt like walking in a minefield. The other holidays were not much better and they continue to be reminders of the reality of everyday that I live without him. While he is not the focus of the majority of the celebrations, the point of holidays is to stop and honor an event, to take a break from day-to-day life, to reduce stress and connect with others around unifying values; he was my person to do that with! Every holiday brings a new challenge to my inner strength. Every special day involves dodging awkwardness and pulling back for perspective. Add to that the fact that my love language is gift giving and not only do I have no one to buy for, nor do I have money to buy anything, but I don’t want anything. It is very odd.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all about celebrating special days. We have a God who commanded celebration and holidays from the start. As Tony Campolo wrote that the kingdom of God is a party. – I am just not sure how to navigate things today.
Of the 195 countries in the world, there are many different holidays and ways to celebrate those holidays. There are about 30 of those countries, most in the 10/40 window, who do not celebrate Christmas. And within the remaining countries, there is no snow, or Santa, or money to give gifts. Maybe I should go there to release my expectations and wait until I miss Christmas! For now, I am just ranting until I figure out how to let joy slip down the chimney and land beneath my (nonexistent) Christmas tree.
OK – I am done. Continue with your regularly scheduled party.