Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy-ish Holidays

Today begins the season of rapid-fire holiday celebrations. From Halloween, we quickly move to Thanksgiving and from there to Christmas, finally wrapping up in two months with New Year's Eve. I love the holidays, and the music, and the decorations, and all of that. But it's blended with a sense of dread.

Most of my friends and family are creating memories as couples, and/or with kids. Most of the people out tonight chasing their costumed kids up and down the street are my age. Meanwhile, I sit home, alone, doling out candy. I'm not buying gifts "from Santa" or making the Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

And, really, who am I to whine about that? Because A) It's a bunch of headache and stress, as anyone with kids and/or in-laws will be quick to tell me, and B) I'm so very very very blessed to have wonderful parents and a brother to go home to for my holidays, which my friends who've lost parents, spouses, or siblings will so justifiably remind me. I truly have much to be glad for, and I am grateful. And I do love being with them, more than I can put to words. And I have it so much better and easier than so many people, in my life and in the world beyond my personal boundaries.

But, but, but. There's always the but. But. I'm so tired of doing it all alone. Being alone. Going to holiday parties alone. Handing out candy...alone. Driving four hours home...alone. Every damned week of the holiday season brings particularly acute reminders of alone. Being alone. Being alone.

My love of the holidays, today included, is hanging increasingly tenuously on memories, nostalgia, and what they once were. Every year, I wonder why the holidays don't feel as exciting or happy as they once used to. All adults experience that, I suppose, but I can't help feeling that a lot of it for me is the stagnancy, the feeling that by now it should be different. By now I should be experiencing the holidays through younger, newer eyes, and through the creation of new memories with new people rather than the rote patterns of solitude and an awkward sense of artificial joyousness glossing over an emptiness and isolation. Through the distortion of tears that can't come out till later because letting them out is a violation of the Rules of Merriment. Of Rule 1 in particular: "Just be grateful and shut up about it."

So, I'll start listening to Christmas music soon. I'll put on the glad face, and I'll sometimes mean it. I'll be happy to see my family, happy to watch It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. But it will be happiness that's drug down by something more persistent and wearisome. By something that's doing nothing but begging for January...when seasonal depression hits. The blessed relief of seasonal depression, when no one expect any more of me anyway.

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