Ahh! Christmas eve, the smell of cooking and baking in the house, pies, cookies and so much more. A day filled with preparations for Christmas Day. A day where family and friends gather to celebrate the birth of our Lord and the spirit of giving. A day children wait for an entire year, just in the hopes that Santa will yet again deliver presents to them, for they have tried so hard in being on Santa’s good list, but are so worried of falling short of making it for having upset mom and dad just yesterday.
The joy of Christmas in the many TV commercials showing the perfect world of love, peace and joy. At least on TV right? At least we can keep on wishing right or can’t we?
The day before Christmas is the day where people tend to lose it the most. Running around begins early in the morning, from the hairdresser’s for women, to toy stores and shopping malls for parents, family and friends looking to snatch a last-minute present for someone they love and for whom they had no time to shop for. Now don’t misunderstand me, the lack of time is not because we don’t consider them important (or we wouldn’t be shopping for them even at the last-minute), it’s just that we do not have enough hours in a day, in our busy lives, to dedicate time to shopping around for our loved ones. So what do we do? We try to squeeze it all in, hours before the real presents should be under the tree. Just mad, right?
While I was running around like the headless horseman from “Sleepy Hollow” I happened to come across many friends and colleagues in the same identical situation, a word here and a word there, I came to learn about some Christmas stories, wishes if you may, behind those “we must smile and be happy” faces that some of them think are forced on by the world. I would like to share some of those stories, wishes with you as to not forget that not everyone is happy out there just because it is Christmas.
“I woke up this morning and just like any other day, I had a major argument with my wife” he said. “I know it is Christmas eve and I’m supposed to just take it in, the continued blames, the it’s always my fault lecture, but I just couldn’t and I blew my top off. Rage, rage and only rage. I lost my voice from the yelling. I couldn’t keep it in any longer, it just poured out like a stormy river without control. All of this while I was trying to make sure our kids had a splendid Christmas. I guess it is all gone now, isn’t it?”
How could I reply. Any word said, could have put me in that awkward position of taking sides and I didn’t want to do that. I did not want to show support for either or, because I had no idea of what went on and I did not want to be made judge and jury. Too easily, minds are made up about others and too easily, we judge without knowing anything about the people involved. So I tried to comfort, to assure that there was still time to “Save Christmas” for the kids and to not waste another moment.
“How hard is it to make others believe that you are happy or at least just as happy as they are. I then asked myself, but are they? Happy, I mean? Or are they just playing the same “put on your mask” game? It’s so hard to know, everyone seems so joyous and so merry, it kind of puts you under pressure doesn’t it? It seems like you are forced to be happy. Wow, that is just awful isn’t it?” Smiling and ironically stated. “If people don’t see you just as happy and merry as they are, you’ll feel the comments coming before you actually even hear them. So you know what I do? I smile, I wish everyone Happy Holidays, I play along. It is what has to be done right? So I do it. No one is the wiser that deep down I am NOT happy with the cards I have been dealt with so far, that I am NOT satisfied with the way things turned out for me, that I am simply NOT JOLLY!”
I never thought that someone would actually open up and tell me that he isn’t a happy fellow. It’s something you usually don’t talk about with people, right? It is truly hard to see if people are really happy now days. There is a lot of making believe out there, people actually play this game more than any other Xbox or Playstation game out there. It is also true that those who do, become judge and jury and are sometimes the best at playing this game and have become such experts that it would take “a behind the scenes” to learn the truth.
“I do not like eating with relatives. Wow, I said it. Eating with relatives is one of the worse pushed, shoved down our throat events of the year. When I hear people say that one of the best parts of the holidays is to get together with friends and family I just want to vomit. It is also one of the few times of the year (Thanksgiving included) where many families fight and argue over the silliest of things. It is ALSO one of the few times of the year where the holiday stress pushes people overboard and makes them turn into demons on one of the holiest days of the year. Talk about exorcism! So please stop telling me that. We are forced to go and if we didn’t, the world as we know it, would collapse. Why? Because how can you celebrate Christmas if you do not spend it with friends and family? If you don’t sit around the table and smile, laugh at any joke made, how can you call it Christmas? You know what I say? This holiday has become so not the holiday it was, the true meaning has been substituted with something completely different and I just do not like it this way. I feel stressed, pressured and most of all it is the worse period of the year. No relaxation, just running around like mad animals. Going here, going there. Driving to my parent’s house, to my in-law’s, to pay visits. Let us not even talk about the money one must spend this time of the year and with all the bills that keep on piling up that must be paid, I am forced to use the money to buy gifts even for people who I know don’t give a hoot about me. In any case, it must be done, so smile and take it like a man. I’m a woman, but that is a different story for another time.”
Not everyone loves this holiday. Why people can’t understand that, is beyond me. I accept it and respect the feelings. There are many reasons for people not liking Christmas, but they are scared to talk about it because they get called “bad names” like “Scrooge”, “Grinch”, etc. So it is better to play along and be” merry” with everyone else, because tomorrow will come and we’ll have a whole other year to live ahead of us and not have to worry about having to be “jolly”. In the mean time the day has still to come and go.
“Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I just love the decorating thing, the buying of the gifts and the waiting for Santa’s arrival, but every year I have to fight with my wife’s non Christmas feeling and traditions. I come from a family where we have some many traditions and where Santa is the icing on the cake. My wife on the other hand comes from a family where if they put a fake little tree up, it is considered over doing it. Where believing in Santa has to be overcome by the age of 6 or people will think that you are strange and with mental disabilities. On the other hand my family has brought me up with egg nog, “stockings hung on the chimney with care”, Santa hats, cookies and milk and decorations to bring in the spirit. Every year I try to give my kids the same memories of Christmas and every year I am hit with words like “don’t put up too much stuff, it makes the house look dirty” or “the tree is enough don’t over do it”. Santa is the other discussion. My kids are 9 and 11, they still believe and I do my best to keep their dream alive. I am one of those who say keep them believing as much as they dare to, for it is one of our dearest dreams and keeping it alive, keeps the magic of Christmas alive. My wife on the other hand continuously points out that my son is too old to be believing in Santa and that no one believes in Santa here and we should tell him. I reply by saying that if the child still believes, let him believe. Christmas is about the memories as well, isn’t it?”
So many traditions and ways of celebrating this holiday do make it hard at times. I guess one has to try to come to a compromise, right? After all, Christmas is for the kids more than for the adults but yet so many adults like myself have still the kid in them who believes. It is about the spirit, the feeling, the sensation, the joy of not sleeping during the night hoping to hear Santa come down and catch him putting the presents under the tree. I do understand though that it is hard to make others feel it, if they’ve never felt it before. We do our best day in and day out to do what we can to make the best of yet another day in our lives. But is it enough?
Sharing about Christmas is also and mostly the sharing of our lives and views of how each one sees and lives this day. Sharing our lives is something we are losing so much of and Christmas is no different. We have replaced many of the good old values of this holiday with things which are not even close to the spirit of the holiday, yet it seems we are at the point of no return, or maybe not. Let us not forget also, that there so many people out there in the world who do not celebrate this holiday and deserve peace and tranquillity from us mad people, trying to go far and wide to get all of those presents under the tree on time.
Happy holidays to all my readers old and new, hoping that Santa may bring you the best gift of all, your sanity. And mine too!
Buon Natale & Merry Christmas to all!