The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (I Guess)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So here we are on Christmas Eve. My office is basically a ghost town, I'm drinking coffee 2.0 (the first cup turned into a disaster somehow), I'm listening to random things on Spotify, and talking to some lovely people online about how Christmas is weird and not the same. Not the cheeriest of sentiments, I'm aware. Christmas is hard. Nostalgia for times past runs high and even though I know that the Christmas of my youth is gone and not returning, I still long for it. These days, I'm not so in to Christmas. I no longer celebrate it religiously, as I did growing up, and I find the hustle and bustle of the season to be exhausting, not exhilarating. As an introvert through and through, it is my own personal nightmare to be forced to go out into the fray to shop and travel, to spend hours in places with what I deem to be "far too many people", and to expect to have a smile on my face and a hug for everyone at the drop of a hat. Last night, I tweeted, "Is it weird to want to go on vacation by myself? I just want to read and sleep and not share my bed. Feeling overwhelmed by life/people." That 110 characters about sums up my state of mind these days.

Things definitely changed once my Mom-Mom died in 2004. My mom's 2 sisters and her brother stopped coming "home" to NJ (they live in MD and CA, respectively) and traveling on the holidays became too stressful and expensive. My uncle has a family of his own, so they were also trying to split holidays. The whole thing got complicated. My mom has always been kind of bummed out by the lack of festiveness surrounding the holidays, but I guess our extended family is just not an overtly festive one? That being said, I remember my childhood Christmases as being fun and joyful... but then again, I was a kid, so what wasn't there to love about presents and dessert and my relatives? Life is certainly more complicated now than it ever was then, and it's wearing on all of us. Although not terribly enthused about Christmas, I still want to make it nice for my mom, which she often reads as me feeling "obligated". Do I love stringing Christmas lights? No, but I'm going to do it anyway, damn it, because this is the time of year you do things like this. It's about spending time with your family and doing nice things for people and not being an asshole, so I will deck the halls until I can deck no longer.

I do love buying people presents, and Levi pointed out that even though he doesn't really like Christmas either, it's the one time of year he makes a point to think about the people in his life that he loves and appreciates (and for whom he wants to buy presents). I could do without the running around and the craziness and... this weird pressure I feel to make this a magical time. It's like when people used to say that "high school is the time of your life" and I wanted to look at them and ask what drugs they were on and could I please have some (but not really, because I'm an honors student, and we don't do things like that, thankyouverymuch). There is nothing that is wonderful about high school except when it ends and the fact that it gives you the ability to go to college (if you so choose).

True confession: I do not think that Christmas is the "most wonderful time of the year".

There, I said it. I think Christmas is hard and families are hard and holidays are hard. I think it's weird to transition from being a kid, to being an adult "kid", to someone who is married and now has to deal with 4 parents, not just 2 sets of 2. I feel like I have to abandon someone, and in the end, I'm abandoning myself to try and make everyone else happy. I don't even know who I'm pretending for this year. My mom? My husband? Society? All I know is that if I had my druthers (whatever a druther is... side note, apparently, Blogger thinks that "druthers" can only be plural and rejects the singular, which is definitely a word), I'd be at home, in my pajamas, reading in bed, and then eating something delicious. I would not be driving all over creation in an attempt to cram as many family visits into one day, when I bet that on some level, none of us really want to be there and we're all kind of doing it because it's how we've always done it and there are places we'd much rather be than where we are right then.

I love all of you people out there who truly love the holidays and spending time with your families.  If it gives you the warm fuzzies, then I am superbly happy for you. I really am. You give me hope. But it's hard when none of that happens for you and you're expected to have it happen... and when it doesn't, people look at you like there's something genetically wrong with you and "oh my God, why aren't you festive, damn it!?" (Side note: No one has actually said that to me. That would be funny.) Levi and I were talking about how someone he knows was relaying a story about how she went home for Christmas and her family took pictures for their Christmas card and it was awesome and she loved it... and Levi and I both simultaneously made the "wow, that's nauseating" face and decided we were really glad that never happens to us.

We're not grinches, we're just... not familiar with a place or time where those things happen. That is not our norm. Sorry?

I'd like to cultivate new traditions with my baby family, but seeing as we're all so stuck on doing the old ones, I feel like that might never happen. It's also hard because until it's more than me and Ken, it's... just me and Ken. (Obvious statement of the day, right there.) My family doesn't "do" the Christmas thing much these days, and his is all over it, and since we're a package deal now, I go where he goes. It's important to him that I'm there, and this is how marriage works. You compromise, you do things that are important to your partner, you grin and you bear it. He is (trying) to be understanding and found me a way to extricate myself from forced merriment after being there for a legitimate amount of time (no, 27 minutes doesn't count), so I appreciate that... but it's still his family and his Christmas, so... that's what it is. If we were to stay local, we'd be just having dinner with my mom and brother after spending the morning there, so it's not like we do anything spectacular. I'm not particularly sad to not be at my mom's house on Christmas; the problem is that I'm being forced to be merry at a time when joy is at a premium in my brain.

It's hard being Jewish at Christmas, especially because I'm a "new Jew" (I converted in 2011) and I don't have many traditions to uphold here all by my lonesome (my Jewish family is in FL). I am stuck with a foot in each side, remembering how Christmas was growing up, and not wanting to celebrate it now, and somehow still missing what used to be. Holy existential crisis, Batman.

I didn't mean for this to be such a downer post, but maybe there's someone else out there that's feeling similarly (hi, I'm here for you) or maybe you know someone who isn't as merry and bright as you think they should be, and maybe they're feeling like I do.  Also, take this as a reminder that the holidays are hard on a lot of people for a variety of reasons, so be gentle with them. Even if they cut you off in traffic or take the last cart at Target or take 93 years to order their coffee at Starbucks. Be gentle to them. 'Tis the season, after all.

With that, I'm going to leave you with a "currently" post. Here is a picture of me, currently, letting my hair do whatever the hell it wants. Oh hey, it can be curly? That's kind of cool.


Taking advantage of the natural light in my empty office break area to take a super-awkward photo
Reading >> I just downloaded Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris from the library, and I have a digital copy of Divergent on hold at the library as well. I'm technically still reading The Noonday Demon and Adulting, but I haven't touched either in a bit. I really liked The Noonday Demon, but I've hit a chapter on history of mental illness and it's just kind of dry for my liking. (I know, a book on depression and mental illness sounds thrilling, but seriously, it is really interesting and yes, I'm aware that this makes me a gigantic nerd.) I am so excited because until January 16th, I am free to read whatever I damn well please. On the list for sure are Divergent (if I can ever get it from the library), The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which I've had since it came out and I ordered my signed copy!), and any of the 217 books on my Goodreads list.

Watching >> Breaking Bad, season 4. Ken and I are obsessed, even though we basically say, "Wow, that was seriously dark..." after every episode and have to hug it out. I also have the entire current season of The Walking Dead to watch, the two most recent episodes of SNL, and a bunch of Top Chef episodes from this season on the DVR. Things on my to-watch list include Dexter, Sherlock, House of Cards, and Doctor Who. (Note to self: Find the Netflix DVD of Monsters Inc and send it back so you can get another movie. You fail at the concept of Netflix.)

Making >> The never-ending baby blanket is still... here. Alia is here visiting, though, so I'm hoping I can be inspired to finish it and then start the shawl that I have wanted to start for ages. Alia is my knitting guru, so I want her to be here when I start something that involves DPN's and lace and circulars and short-rows, haha. Sunday, I made 3 dozen s'mores cookies, a dozen gluten-free peanut butter blossoms, and dough for gingerbread cookies that will be baked tonight. ALL THE BAKING!

Feeling >> Excited that the semester is over (and that my insane studying for Immunobiology paid off with an A in that class!), not thrilled about the impending holiday travel and  subsequently spending hours in small quarters with large quantities of people who are very loud, and anxious about life, the universe, and everything (so... typical).

Searching >> For balance. And patience. And clarity. And contentment.

Wanting >> Decent weather, jeans that fit, more sleep, to see my best friends who are far-flung around the country.

Anticipating >> Reading, sleeping, baking, and present-giving. Also, seeing my most favorite Sarah next week!! (I haven't seen her since October 2012!!)

Loving >> Besides Ken, my kitties, and my friends... the fact that the semester is over. And my bed, of course.

Thinking >> About  med school applications,

Craving >> Sleep (always), more reading, a quiet mind, a vacation somewhere warm, time with my dad.

Working on >> Eating better and exercising. So far, it's not going so well.

Baking >> Gingerbread cookies tonight!

Struggling >> To keep it together.

Wearing >> Alternately between business-casual for the office, jeans and sweaters, and the coziest pajamas I own.

Merry Christmas, all.


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