i don’t know what’s wrong with me. i haven’t been able to feel what has been dubbed as “the christmas spirit” at all this year. i’ve been frustrated by the number of houses on our street that are completely overloaded with christmas lights and blow-up decorations (you know the ones–they remind me of a jump castle). instead of appreciating these families’ holiday spirit, the only thing i can think is “if these people put half the time, energy, and money into charity work or donations that they put into draping decorations and lights over anything that stands still for more than five seconds, the world would be a better place.” i know it’s really bitter and sort of hypocritical of me to think this way, but i can’t help it.
i have a couple of days off til my last final on monday, so i thought maybe if i loaded all my christmas cd’s into my itunes and played them really loud while i do chores & stuff… just maybe i’d feel a hint of christmas cheer? so i converted my cd’s into itunes and even downloaded a few songs that i love that i didn’t have in my collection. and as soon as i pressed “play”…
i started crying. i don’t know what on earth is wrong with me.
i think it might have something to do with the way my family dynamic has changed over the years. listening to things like bing crosby and ella fitzgerald and frank sinatra remind me of waking up at mamaw & papaw’s house on the weekends (because i spent EVERY weekend there) to the smell of eggs and bacon and grits and coffee. being scolded for not putting on socks before walking on the kitchen linoleum because it was “freezing cold”. sitting at the table and eating breakfast with mamaw and papaw while the christmas music played. putting the decorations on the tree. being allowed to go on the roof with papaw while he put up decorations but only if i stayed seated in the exact center of the roof and did not move one single inch. waiting on christmas eve for all the family to get there so we could open presents, us kids (there were only the two of us until i was about seven or eight) barely able to contain our excitement. all the yummy food and family and love and general happiness.
and then there was christmas with nana. it used to be held on christmas eve when i was very little, but then as our family grew to amazing numbers. nana has six CHILDREN (if you say “kids”, nana will say, “they are CHILDREN. not GOATS.”), a number of stepchildren that i’m not sure of, 23984709283 grandchildren, and 7760 great-grandchildren. so eventually, we moved our christmas celebration to the saturday after christmas so that all those who had to travel could enjoy christmas day at their respective homes. that’s the tradition we keep with to this day.
those are the things i remember when i think about christmas. being an adult is hard. i wonder if it’s like this for everyone.
now, i’m not so naive or jaded as to think that the problems of today didn’t exist twenty+ years ago. i know there have been times of economic hardship, family quarrels, what have you. but when you grow up and are privy to these types of details, some of the magic goes out of everything. i never really wanted to grow up, but it seems as though everyone around me did. i feel kind of like peter pan, when he goes back to the nursery to find wendy darling all grown up with children of her own.
this is not in any way supposed to be a pity party. it’s merely an exploration of why i’ve been feeling the way i have.
i remember my very first christmas away from my family. it was when we lived in california. i was fortunate enough to spend every christmas with my family until i was twenty-four years old. that christmas was really hard for me. i remember willy & i went to disneyland one weekend in december. after the fireworks, they had a “snowfall” in front of the castle & on main street, and i sat there bawling my eyes out in the middle of my most favorite place, because i missed my family so much and wouldn’t get to see them.
and now that i’m “all grown up” and the kids of my generation are having kids of their own, things are much harder for me than i ever thought they would be. i wish i knew a way to make it better.
maybe once willy and i have our own children (if we do have any, that is), christmas will feel magical again.
maybe all i need is a trip to see the james island festival of lights with my family.
maybe i need a swift kick in the rear end. 😉
in order to put a little magic into christmas for other people, i’m going to commit to doing some charity work this christmas. i was just saying to willy last night, “i don’t know what i’m going to do with myself over christmas break! i’ll have no homework or studying, and no classes to go to. wow.” (i haven’t really had a break all year–i went straight from spring semester to summer to fall, with about a week in between each.) well, now i know what to do with that time.
this was pretty hard to write. reliving those old memories in words instead of just in my head was sort of tough. i don’t think i can clearly convey the meaning my family holds for me. when my sister and i were younger, our friends never understood why we were always doing things with family on the weekends. there was always a shopping trip with an aunt, an uncle’s birthday party, a family dinner, etc. we didn’t realize that other families weren’t necessarily like ours. we didn’t know that our friends thought their families were lame, because we thought ours was the coolest ever. now that we’re grown, we know how lucky we’ve been and can properly appreciate what we have, because it’s really something that should be treasured and never taken for granted.
download this: have yourself a merry little christmas by judy garland. because it’s one of my favorite christmas songs, sung by one of my all-time favorite movie stars, in one of my very favorite movies (meet me in st. louis).