This year, I surprisingly found myself in way more of a spirit for Christmas than I anticipated. I just haven’t been feeling it lately. I received a lot of sweet gifts from my coworkers, and I look forward to wrapping up some gifts for them in January.
Some years, you might not feel like celebrating the holiday. Guess what? That’s okay. I lost two good friends in December. One of them passed suddenly a week before Christmas in 2011. December is a difficult month for me. I still feel guilty for losing contact before they passed. I feel guilty for travelling after the other friend passed in 2012 and missing his funeral. I miss them both so very much.
Both passed suddenly. Both were talented musicians who did a lot of work during December. The added stress of Christmas events, plus a disrupted eating and sleep schedule do not make the end of the year a very healthy time. There are so many concerts, parties, late nights and extra gigs.
I remember how stressful things could get, how it took seven years to learn what worked and what didn’t. I would go for the bootleg flu-shot in early December (hang out in sneezing distance with someone who just had this year’s strain.) Like clockwork, I’d be out of commission on December 7, and sometime around Guadalupe, my sinuses would be clearing. This way, I would be healthy and strong enough to play beat the clock on Christmas Eve. This way, I would be able to work for 10 hours, sleep for four and return the next day for another 6. I loved every minute of it, but I appreciate that I don’t have to do that anymore. Oh, and there were several years when I was writing finals up until the 21st.
I hate to say it, but I’m just too old for that in my early 30s, and I am grateful that my last mass on Christmas Eve should be over by the time midnight mass is just putting the baby in the manger.
Even before my friends passed, I made it a tradition to give gifts after Christmas. I might make one or two gifts for my significant other in December, but I make a present for everyone else after the 25th. I cannot imagine the Christmas stress compounded by a debt-incurring scavenger hunt in Coco-Chanel EDP smogged temple to capitalism (a.k.a. a shopping mall.) Just the thought gives me hives. The mere imagining of a mall parking lot makes me want to call insurance company and see if I can purchase some sort of supplemental automotive coverage.
Over the last ten years, it felt inevitable that someone would try to start an argument on Christmas eve, whether in my family or in the parish. I learned that this often happens when people feel lonely, isolated or abandoned. During my last year in New York, I made a resolution to celebrate a drama-free Christmas. Even though there was a moment of conflict, I listened and I did not react. This person came to me, about a month later and we worked through our differences.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should tolerate harassment or abuse because its Christmas. Just be aware that humans get particularly emotional at this time of year, and take it with a grain of salt if you can.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. The 25th is the first day of a season that extends until the first Sunday after New Year’s Day. Life is short and people love you. Do your best, but go easy on yourself. Let your light shine. Stand up for what’s important. Speak out for what needs to be heard. Remember that people are people. Not everyone is merry. There are a lot of expectations at this time of year. The best way for your expectations to be met is to treat this like any other beautiful, glorious new day, and to treat every day with the joy, anticipation and radiance of Christmas.