It's the holiday season. I'm not stressing about the season that much. I think that I recognize that I won't ever be into the holiday like others. I appreciate the vibe, but I don't buy into the season on a whole.
When it comes to the holidays, the "reason for the season" is a non-issue. I do not follow, nor believe, in any religion. I don't even necessarily buy into goodwill and cheer stuff. But since I have no desire to divorce myself from my family, I make the rituals of Christmas the holiday for me. But it's only certain rituals. It's not the tree, the gifts, or a priest on the pulpit. It's the "everything" cut-out cookies, pirogies, bad renditions of certain carols during Midnight Mass, Jill Sobule's "Merry Christmas From The Family," and "A Christmas Story."
Underneath, I think the holiday died for me when we found out my grandma had pancreatic cancer in November 2004. I stopped caring at that point. I lost a key part of the ritual I loved. A quiet Christmas morning of sleeping in, being woken up by my mom only when my grandmother decided she wanted to open her presents. Watching endless rounds of "A Christmas Story." My mom yelling that she hates that movie and why do we have to watch it again. A dinner of ham, shoe peg corn, cucumbers in sour cream, shrimp cocktail, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, a relish dish, and Asti Spumonti Blush from one of the Finger Lake Wineries. Dessert showed off my grandma's baking skills with homemade shortbread, snowball cookies, peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss, fruit cake cookies, and date nut squares that my dad would cut a piece from and say, "Here's your piece. The rest is no good. I'll save you from it!" Then, after dinner, watching whatever was on TV from Return of the Jedi to Christmas videos on VH-1.
Despite all of this, I'm at better peace with the holiday this year than the previous few years. I don't feel that anxiety, and even anger, that I've had before when trying to defend why I'm not gung-ho about everything. Maybe I've just gotten better at not letting the incredulous statements of, "You're NOT decorating a tree?? What's wrong with you??" get to me.
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