I made honest efforts to get into it (decorations, parties, music, shopping, egg nog, holiday specials, singing carols and even wearing red and green) and had a few moments of fun, but I can’t help believing those good moments were despite the holiday, not because of it. I’m just not a Christmas guy…sorry folks. I celebrate the every day moments and relationships and give gifts when it feels right and I want to, I don’t celebrate people in my life and buy and give gifts only when I’m told to by society. I don’t believe you can or should designate a specific moment of the year to be happy and loving and generous, and I don’t believe most people convey much of what the season is about anyway. There’s a lot of complaining and anger and rudeness and selfishness and hypocrisy and that’s what I see and hear all around me in spades this time of year. And, of course, I have no religious connection to it. In fact, that connection sours me even more. SO, I except that it’s a cultural phenomenon that I have to survive every year and get through it the best I can.
Still, I have kept my usual Grinch-ness to myself for the most part and have allowed everyone around me to revel in and attempt to spread the holiday cheer. I canceled a couple days vacation I had planned for today and tomorrow and figured I’d save the time for when I can use it better and, instead, work and help out my office by covering as best I could for the multiple holiday absentee employees. Not sure that was the best idea, but I’m stuck with the decision now so I just have to suck it up and get through the rest of the week. Besides, I needed the distraction. Tomorrow night is one of the single most stressful nights of my life and the dread has grown exponentially for a couple weeks now.
It’s Christmas Eve open house at my Mom’s house.
This event will involve almost all my siblings, their spouses and kids and many extended family members and “friends” – a house full of people I am estranged from, in various degrees, and see only once a year. I hate going and always try to wiggle my way out of it, but I have yet to succeed. Although I could refuse to go, I would be unable to enjoy being home as I’d be wracked with guilt wrapped in anger for being made to feel guilty and I’d have to deal with the fallout of ruining my Mom’s Christmas for not coming. My Mom’s passive aggressive and never screams or yells and rarely cries, just let’s you know in her almost inimitable way how your selfish act of refusing to put her happiness over yours is the single worst thing you could do to her and she will bear the emotional scars of such a betrayal for the remainder of her years. And she’ll convey this with a simple inflection when she asks, at some point in the future “So, how was YOUR Christmas?” I resent the manipulation and continue to struggle with my desire to walk away from all of it, repercussions and resentment be damned. I have slowly taken control of my own life and relationships in many areas but this is one of the final thresholds to be crossed. We have ended Thanksgiving, Birthday and Easter family celebrations, refused to take part in family vacations and I have taken control of exactly where when and how I spend time with my family, not the other way around. Except for Christmas.
Given that I am tired of going through this every year and feeling this way, I have decided this has to be the last year I put myself through this. After this holiday passes, I will sit down with my Mom and explain that it is my holiday too, that I have my own home that I spend hours decorating and spend lots of money to rent and maintain, that I have my husband and dog and friends and our own holiday traditions and treats to enjoy and that, although I love her, I can no longer give in to her manipulative behavior and spend my Christmas eve in her home when I want to be in mine I’m 39 years old, I have a life and I plan to live it and enjoy it as I see fit, without any influence from anyone else, including her. I will assure her that we will continue to spend time together and celebrate life and enjoy each others company throughout the year, but it won’t be on Christmas eve again, unless she decides to come enjoy the peace and solitude with us at Chez Breen, in front of the fire, cocktail in hand, dog at our side and the quiet hush of peace, happiness and contentment settling over us like a warm blanket.
So this is what I’m giving myself for Christmas this year – permission to stay home next year. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to like what I got me very much.