Christmas is a tricky mistress. I absolutely love this time of year, and pretty much everything that comes with it. With exceptions, of course.
|My Christmas Likes|
Most of the seasonal music
Most Christmas specials
Watching people open their gifts
|My Christmas Dislikes|
"(Simply Having a) Wonderful Christmastime"
Gingerbread houses with wretched royal icing
Snow and Heat Miser
Paying for said gifts well into February
New Year's Eve
But if we're really digging deep here, my favourite and least favourite thing about this time of the year are the same thing: it's a magical, special time of year.
That's confusing, I know.
Basically, the best part of this time of year is that everything seems a little bit brighter. Acts of kindness seem to be shared more often, people go out of their way to be a little nicer, everything sparkles and shines and makes merry. But also, everything that's a little bit sad seems more so because ohmygodit'sChristmas! Tragedies seem all the more cruel and horrific because of the season. Every sad story, every natural disaster, every fire, seems to break me a little bit more than usual.
Videos that don't make even one eyelash moisten in June usually send torrents of tears cascading down my cheeks. Just try to watch me during the last 15 seconds of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" - by the time I get to "we have we", I'm basically the Trevi Fountain wearing a sweater dress.
So, for me at least, this season is filled with emotion. It's a time of reflection, looking at what's changed since last year, who's far away, reflecting on all the new people I've met and experiences I've had, and sometimes those memories and those realizations aren't all positive. This year has been a rollercoaster - I've been incredibly blessed but also had some frustrating setbacks and aggravating fall-outs that have left me with a decidedly bitter aftertaste as 2013 winds down. I know that I'm lucky - I've had the good fortune to be visited by great friends, had one of the best birthday parties I can remember (or mostly remember), I fulfilled a lifelong dream to own a dog, I have a lovely little house in a great neighbourhood with a solid teammate. My family is pretty healthy and my parents have been and continue to be very supportive, lovely folks. But I've also experienced some challenging financial setbacks (mostly resulting from Sewergate), resulting in a lack of funds to fix the things around the house that need fixing. It also influenced our travel budget, and that wanderlust-driven restlessness was hard to quiet. Some family arguments have been especially irritating, I've had more friends move out of the city than ever before, and some recent work-related disappointment has left me reeling and angry. In short, I don't know what to make of this year, but the push to be merry and full of cheer has made me feel by turns spiteful and depressed that I'm not more grateful to be living the life I'm living. I'm the Three Faces of Christmas Eve over here, basically.
And for the first time, I think I'm starting to "get" why this time of year is so contentious for some people. When things aren't perfect, or even positive, it seems more acute at year's end. As recent disappointments become less fresh, I'm able to try to focus on the positive but being *told* to focus on the positive this time of year actually has the opposite effect on me - the stubborn jerk inside me wants to be miserable to prove a point.
I think things will be fine - having a few friends in town has already made things brighter and, honestly, don't underestimate the power of brown sugar shortbread and a very cuddly dog. Things will be OK and I will be OK and Christmas will be OK, etc. etc. I just wanted to shout out to people who are not OK and let them know that... that's okay. And that you're not alone. And that this time of year is a big mixed bag of emotions at the best of times and that if all you can do is survive it, then that's enough. What you have to offer is enough. I'll try to keep that in my head as well, as the year winds down.
Make merry as you can, everyone. We still have we.