Sunday, December 10, 2006

A quiet holiday season

Angela D. my delightful Sunday yoga teacher said today,
"A couple of years ago my family made a list of what they loved about this Holiday Season and what they didn't. We agreed we loved lights, eating cookies and making cookies. What we didn't like was the pressure to consume. So we jettisoned what we didn't like, and now just concentrate on what we do."

My sentiments exactly: celebrate with lights and cookies.

I'd been thinking about this on my own. How can you not this time of year? Before I hooked up with John, Christmas Eve was the most depressing night of the year. I couldn't reconcile the fantasies of ultimate celebration and warmth with my reality. Years later, far happier, I'd stand in line at Balduccis (the amazing gourmet food market in NYC in the 80s) to just absorb the vibe. I rarely had much to buy, even in the years we hosted a ragtag dinner for friends and stragglers. Instead I'd stand and marvel at everyone else's machinations. What were they cooking? How many were coming by? Who were these people? I was both alienated and excited by the proximity.

In the next phase, when the kids were little, I knocked myself out giving them gifts I hoped they'd love. They often didn't. Which made me feel terrible. So little by little I stopped buying. Our extended families, spread all over the world never even started exchanging gifts. I'd watch others rachet up, shopping like crazy, sending off packages at the P.O., loading up on wrapping paper, and feel out of step. I'd ground myself by trimming a tree with 100-year-old family ornaments mixed in with cheap toys I picked up and made in a hurry my first xmas in NYC with John. I'd send photo cards pretty much on xmas eve, not buying the pre-printed ones, instead glueing snapshots onto cards adorned with markers and glitter and individual notes. But now the kids are much older. I don't have a good, recent image of the four of us. And I guess constant email has changed my need to reach out. Hesitantly, regretfully, but tangibly.

So our celebration gets smaller. I try not to feel like I'm being left out in the hustle and bustle -- which is a completely stupid and unproductive syndrome I fight against everyday. I work to assuage the guilt with feelings of gratitude towards our loved ones, and peace that we need little outside of each other. I play Christmas music. The blue & green lights are up on the porch. The tree will go up this afternoon. That's pretty much it. A Christmas party here and there. Some friends by for cocktails. Mostly a kind of quiet. A relief from want.

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