When the Holidays Aren't as Bad as You Anticipated


The last time I remember enjoying Christmas was the year I got a tiny, not-quite functional toy blender. (It could swirl water with its plastic blade, but it was never going to chop or purée.)

That was approximately 44 years ago.

To be fair, it’s not just Christmas I’ve disliked. After Halloween, it has historically gone downhill for me. Too soon, Thanksgiving arrives, in all its cranberry loaf and lumpy mashed potatoes glory — and I either have to provide a dish, which is always overwhelming for some reason, or not provide one, which makes me feel guilty.

Then, within what feels like a week, comes Christmas. That means never getting around to sending out Christmas cards (and therefore not receiving many because I’ve been X’ed off so many senders’ lists), buying too many or too few gifts (always forgetting someone), wrapping, dealing with the tree, doing an abysmal and last-minute job decorating, and so on.

New Year’s Eve and Day are typically no better. I stopped wanting to go out and celebrate drunkenly many years ago, and the tradition that replaced that, Thai take-out and sometimes an impromptu dance party with family friends, fizzled out as our kids have gotten older. By the time Valentine’s rolls around, I am spent, in serious need of sunshine and warmth — and no more mandated holidays.

So, year after year, it’s about St. Patrick’s Day when I snap out of my funk. That’s a third of the year wishing time would just hurry up and pass.

This year things are different. Halloween was fun, instead of being a harbinger of the string of holidays to come. I don’t even remember much about Thanksgiving except the pecan pie was amazing and we laughed a lot at the table. 

Christmas is exactly 11 days away as I write this. The tree’s up and has lights on it (the work of my husband), but the ornaments are still on the back porch in Rubbermaid containers. I don’t know where the kids’ stockings are or what to buy my mom, who insists she doesn’t want anything. 

But I am not flustered or disgusted with myself for the typical disarray.

What’s changed? Maybe my combination of meds, maybe I’ve mellowed in middle-age, maybe I’ve come to understand that my personality doesn’t respond to a forced timeline of jolliness.

All I know is that I haven’t been consumed for the last two months (and don’t expect to be for the next two) with anxiety and irritability. I’m even kind of anticipating making some continued nice memories.

This, my friends, is a true holiday miracle

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