I’m not religious so I’m not at all insulted by the much bemoaned lack of Christ in Christmas. Nor am I that deeply enamored with the holiday in general. In all honestly, Christmas has been on a downhill slope ever since I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. (Which, needless to say, was a pretty long time ago.) However, I do tend to get sentimental over holidays that are fabled as being a time for family togetherness and the warm fuzzy feelings that come from basking in the glow of your loved ones.
It is because of this that I still get a little caught up in the holiday season. I still put up a tree, still decorate my office at work, still order Christmas cards with disgustingly adorable pictures of my dog plastered across them, still bake cookies and pies and other assorted holiday goodies and still buy, wrap and give presents to the people I care about.
But even I, with my lowered expectations given the removal of the mythical man and constant attempts to self care in hopes of avoiding making myself nuts with the whole thing, have been feeling a bit overwhelmed this year. I don’t necessarily think that the capitalist machine that runs this great country of ours is on anymore crack than usual, but that's not saying much given that the usual amount of crack is A LOT. Granted, no one got maced on black Friday this year but people still got trampled, shoved and injured in the truly horrifying rush of shoppers. People are still going bankrupt trying to pay for all this crap. People are still stealing, car jacking and committing other illegal acts in order to obtain gifts. And people are still being unabashedly bat-shit crazy in general.
As much as I try to avoid commercials, ignore the holiday catalogs clogging up my mail box, stay away from the mall whenever possible (which is not easy when the mall takes up about two thirds of the land mass of the town you live in) and otherwise shelter myself from the madness I can’t help but ask the question that many other people have been asking for years: is this really what the season’s all about?
I mean, that's been the biggest source of stress. Mainly the money and not having enough of it. But also the fear that what you got that person isn’t enough. Which, of course, drives you to buy more in attempts to fix that. Which brings you back to the issue of money. It’s a vicious cycle. And because I’m that kind of a person, I can’t help but think that I’m being brainwashed into participating in the whole cycle in the first place. I’m plagued by the thought that perhaps I should just hand-make some really loving cards for everyone and nix presents all together. Lord knows it would save a lot of headaches.
But part of me still likes wrapping up that box, handing it to that person, and seeing the expression on their face when they open it. It makes me happy, I can’t help it. However, I don’t want to go broke doing it. And I especially don’t want to go broke because of some mass-produced external pressure to do so. I am much like the turret pleading “I’m different!” in my own little voice.
So perhaps I need to find another way to try to get some of the warm/fuzzy feeling that comes from giving. And we all know that giving without receiving is always a good way to give your soul some much needed TLC. Given that fact, I am struck by the staggeringly large number of ways to do just that this time of year. Toy drives, food drives, coat drives, blanket drives, blood drives and pretty much every other type-of drive you can think of are abundant right now. Just about every organization in existence is eagerly accepting volunteers to visit with a senior, serve food to a homeless individual or donate their expertise in accomplishing a particular task. Not to mention the fact that a large part of the Atlantic sector is still in a state of emergency because of the giant storm that struck a month and a half ago and they desperately need help. The possibilities are near-limitless and I’m guaranteed a bigger bang for my buck if I spend it on non-perishable goods rather than another present for a family member who probably won’t remember it in a month’s time.