So, a friend asked me this morning how my experience of this day has changed since my relationship with the church has changed. That give me a pause.
I had to be truthful and say that there is less joy on this particular day, but also less stress. There is more contemplation. And more spreading of the spirit of generosity throughout the year. I don’t wait for a “reason” to be good and generous anymore. I try to love people because they need loving instead of “because it’s Christmas,” and I do that all year long.
Let me elaborate: I used to try to make Christmas perfect and I used to feel like a failure every year. Most years, I ended up crying. The schism between what I told myself I should do and what any human could do was just too extreme. Trying to take care of everyone’s emotional and material health while refusing to admit that Christmas is just a very fucking hard day for me personally was too much. I won’t go into the backstory of why that is: if you are a long time reader you already know, and if you aren’t, I’ve moved beyond it so it’s no longer pertinent to rehash. The point is that I now move through this entire holiday season (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s) at an emotional pace that works for me. I take care of myself mentally, and I have greatly lowered my expectations of myself and those around me. Amazingly enough, I’m not the only one to benefit: the people around me are also happier and less stressed.
Well, most of them. As for the rest…they did a great deal to contribute to that sense of guilt and failure that had come to mark my holiday. And I am pretty sure they still think I am a Christmas failure and should feel guilty. But this year, I gave myself the gift of declaring bullshit on that. This year, I don’t care what they think. This year, I asked myself if I would let a stranger treat me this way, and this year, I finally said “No.” Merry Christmas, and 364 other days of the year, to me.