I really love the month of December. In the simplest of ways. The colder temps. Twinkling lights everywhere. The yum foods. Time off with family and friends. Fires going in the fireplace. Casual gatherings. Favorite traditions. Maybe a getaway of some sort. Seeing the pics on holiday cards. The overall feeling of festivity in the air. Love all of it. It is divine.
The rest makes me nuts. Every. Single. Year.
The insane running around and excessive shopping. The constant feeling of being under a time crunch. The pressure to show everyone appreciation at the exact same time (I am truly appreciative, but could we maybe express our gratitude throughout the year rather than piling it all onto one seasonal week?).
All of this peace and joy is simply exhausting.
As far as presents go, I'd be happy to reserve this part solely for the kids of our world. Their excitement at this time of year is undeniably adorable, and they're not quite capable of doing their own shopping just yet. So if Santa wants to give a few presents, and those Chanukah characters known as parents do, too, I think that's great. As far as being an adult goes, I'm pretty adept at doing my own shopping, especially in the name of less mayhem and excess.
This isn't to say it's not wonderful to focus on others and smother them -- with love, hang-time, food, thoughtfulness, little somethings, and anything at all for those truly in need. That's just goodness all around. But the holidays as mass production? It continually gives me misgivings about what it is we're all actually giving... and how frantically we go about giving it. (Maybe Scrooge was really just a minimalist with an eggnog hangover.)
At a coffeehouse earlier this month, I overheard two older guys discussing the impending holidays. One said he felt so stressed that he wanted to just skip everything between Thanksgiving and January. He then confessed that he and his wife never even sent out their holiday cards last year so they were thinking about just using them this year to make things easier. The other one talked about his discomfort with all of it, saying his desire would be to have the season be more about simply celebrating Winter Solstice, but that he can never get anyone else on board.
I truly hope that everyone is finding a way to enjoy a happy, festive, and stress-free season, whatever meaning the holidays have for you and however it is you celebrate.
Merry Holidays to all! And Happy Winter Solstice, Coffeehouse Man. I'm on board. At least in theory.