Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holidays are something that happen somewhere else

Dedicated to Lori Patton

I gave up the holidays with my marriage in 2005. It's just all too much. I can barely manage the small "workload" I've set to myself on any given week. Going above and beyond is just not physically possible. It's not that I don't like the holidays. I do. I'd love to be caroling and baking holiday cookies, decorating and planning family meals, and making personalized, holiday gifts. I just can't. I haven't been able to for a very long time. But I've come to a place of peace with it. I don't fight the holidays. I'm not all "Bah! Humbug!" But nor do I let myself get caught up in the moment of the season. The holidays far enough away, I've got plenty of time. Oh, look, aren't the lights nice. Hey it's New Year's already? Sweet! Another year done! And just like that, I'm through. It's still just winter and cold again, and nothing to worry about.

It's easy for me: it's just me and my cat. If I had kids, it would be an entirely different story and frankly, I don't know how some of y'all do it. But for me losing the holidays is not a big loss. The peace with not having the pressure of the holidays is certainly nice. It's just Wednesday. Or whatever day of the week it happens to be. I use the increased time inside to catch up on indoor activities like painting and reading. I let all the festivities and rituals be something that happens to somewhere else. It's not my concern. It's like music from another room. I can enjoy it if I want to listen, or I can ignore it all the same.

I've had to scale back so many of my activities, that I really need to pick and choose what is important and what isn't. If it isn't important, I don't worry about it. It's a celebration any day that I am well enough to be in the kitchen cooking from scratch, whether it be dinner or a batch of cookies. I do not need to exhaust myself trying to match my ability to bake and cook with the timing of a holiday, no matter how old. I rejoice every time that I'm able to take on an extra activity like visiting with friends or having the patience with my hands to make a gift. I don't try and force my hands to work overtime for gift giving. I am not one of Santa's elves. I do my gifting year-round, as my body allows. I take my joy as it comes, not from the calendar.

I could spend every day morning what is not perfect about my life. My I am amazingly blessed. My mind is, arguably, still with me. I am not a prisoner in my body. We're not on the best of terms, my body and I, but the relationship has gotten better in recent years. Life has taken me places I never expected, good and bad, and given me a sense of fulfillment I never thought I'd have so young. I never thought I'd find a reason to celebrate being poor, but some desperate measures have resulted in some surprisingly wonderful breakthroughs. I never though I'd celebrate being crippled, but the wisdom and strength I have had to forge as a result I wouldn't trade for anything.

My "Holy" days are spontaneous and without warning. They are without ritual. They are without tradition. But they are precious still, and I mark their passing. It was that Friday that I was able to stay out and keep pace with my friends in an evening of socializing. It was that Tuesday we were able to meet up for lunch and a quick peek around the local shops. It's any time I'm able to post a picture on Facebook about what I made in the kitchen. It was that day I felt brave enough to risk going to the movies, and didn't need to take any medicine as consequence. It's the couple of days of good planning that got me through a period of pain without it being a catastrophe. These moments, these times, are sacred to me. They are gifts. They are blessings. They are my holidays.

I make sure to breathe in these random moments as though is Christmas morning, as though it's New Year's Eve, as though it's the 4th of July. I drink up the joy in the moment that I am able to experience it in. I'm mindful of consequences, of course. It's difficult to be successful in my condition and not be mindful of consequences. But I will take my chances where I can get them, as they are so few and far between. And a very merry unbirthday to you too! So it's not so much that my holidays are somewhere else as they are somewhen else and someway else. My holidays don't come in familiar packages at predictable times of the year. They are moments that magically unfold in front of me, that I marvel at in hind-sight, and say, "Did you get a load of that? Wow... wasn't that somethin'! Man. Amazing. I am glad to be alive."


  1. Very inspiring indeed! Over my ra years I have taken my holidays inside. Inside my mind and heart. I no longer feel the pressure to perform on cue or do what "is" expected. I live them vicariously inside myself and I live them throughout the year. I felt kindship here. We celebrate not by letting go but by celebrating the everyday things in our lives. And isn't that what a holiday really should be afterall?

  2. All traditions start somewhere, right? ^_^