Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Christmas Curmudgeon (warning: depressing content)

I've never liked Christmas. There. I said it. I just ... from the time I was a little child, the "magic of the holiday season" has escaped me. It's not that I don't get the meaning of Christmas, or that I don't believe in it. I do. The entire incarnation-death-resurrection cycle that makes up the core of my faith is meaningful and important to me. And it's not because I had my faith "educated out of me" as my family was always afraid would happen. I mean, yes, I know that the entire Christmas holiday was just a way for early Christians to co-opt the Roman Saturnalia festival. This is not what makes me ambivalent about Christmas. My favorite holiday is Easter and I totally geek out about that, even though I know if was just a way for early christians to co-opt the pagan rites of spring, only with a lot less sex. (well, a little less, anyway .... I still want to know why that bunny lays eggs.)

I am annoyed by Christmas in the way everyone is. As a TV geek, I resent the yearly "special holiday episode" most shows take (although the "How I met your Mother" one recently was the way to get it right). I can't stand any holiday song written in the last 100 year. I'm looking at you, Rudolph, Jingle Bell Rock, Rocking around the christmas tree, and I think there is a special circle of hell reserved for the writers and popularizers of "Grown up Christmas List" and especially, "The Christmas Shoes." I hate how everything gets so busy and there's so much social pressure around this time. I have never sent out Christmas cards and only decorated the outside of my house once. Don't ask.

And before you say anything, yes I do like getting presents. Always have. And yes, I realize this makes me a hypocrite.

This recently came to a head when I was putting up the christmas tree this year. My children were helping me string the lights, actually behaving themselves. Jewel's christmas cd was on the stereo (shut up!) and my wife was on the couch watching what was going on providing helpful instruction. And I was thinking, "this is a greeting card moment. this is when I should be happy" but I just wasn't, and I was trying to figure out why that was, and why it has always been that way for me. And then I had one of those stunning moments of realization that we have from time to time, the kind where you wonder why you haven't had it before. Some people need alcohol to get there, I only needed Jewel (shut up!).

ok, stop reading now if you just want this to be the geeky-silly blog and not the serious one, because what follows is in no way funny, but may help explain why I am who I am today. I firmly believe that our personalities start to form when we are little, and the things that happen to us then resonate out and affect who we become as adults. I don't think anyone will disagree with that. And when I was two years old, almost three, I lost my little brother. He died (I think) ten days before christmas. Now, I remember him, but I don't remember the specific occasion of his death or how I found out about it. I remember not going to his funeral, for some reason, and I have very specific memories of him when he was alive. But I think that sadness marked me in some way, and got itself forever associated with this season. I didn't share this with anyone, but I've been thinking about it ever since, and its taken me a while to process, but I think it explains why, exactly I just feel so unbearably sad this time each year, and I usually don't start to feel better until January when my birthday rolls around, and while Easter, with its promise of redemption and rebirth and its sense of relief from a cycle of unbearable grief has always been my preferred holiday.

So I hope that this realization will help me have a better christmas next year, as I think i still need this one to process. So, is this a new christmas beginning for me? We'll see. It may just be further proof that I need therapy.


Kim said...

Wow. That does explain a lot. I'm really sorry that you had to go through that, at any age, but especially at such an imprintable time.

T-Bone said...
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Ref said...

Good luck, friend. I hope you can find some of that peace we're supposed to get from this.