Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To holiday or not to holiday?

I'm trying to figure out how I feel about the holidays this year.

It is still a crapshoot and it could go one of two ways.

It *could* be joyful and celebratory. I will design and have printed happy greeting cards for my family and friends, accented by a perfect little collection of iconic snapshots from our year. The return address will be another perfect greeting with our grinning faces and clever nicknames. I will put up a Christmas tree and boxes of our destined-to-be-heirloom decorations. We carefully hang handmade and lovingly crafted ornaments of paper, clay, and wood crafted by the little learning hands or the skilled weathered hands of grandparents. We will greet each holiday party, gathering, and obligation with an open heart and spirit. We will find and make perfect and thoughtful gifs for all those we love and when we exchange gifts, we will all laugh and hold our hearts less they actually overflow with love and goodness and all that is contained within you literally does burst forth from your chest.


It *could* be an excruciating six week long process in which my heart sinks a little lower every time I leave the house and am attacked through every sense to remind me that the holidays are upon us! We could crank classic rock and zydeco instead. We could pretend we are going out of town instead of attending holiday events. We could make peppermint mocha coffee creamer the extent to which we acknowledge the season.

I was grocery shopping several weeks ago and heard the first song of the season. Instantly, my head and heart sank. It's a strong reflex cultivated through many years of holiday seasons that just didn't feel good. I hadn't even considered the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I hadn't had time to decide how I felt this year and prepare for the moment I would first get barraged by the sounds and smells of the season.

I'm a very upbeat and positive person throughout the year. But there have been several years in which the holiday season has literally brought me to my knees. The holidays are just so big. So much. So perfect. So ungenuine. So material. So obligatory.

Truthfully, I've been on a good run. The years since Ponygirl and then Hazelnut were born have been awesome and at times deliriously happy. For real. We go pick our tree together and talk about Santa and play the music loudly and constantly. We belt out the same old songs loudly and drink our hot cocoa and celebrate our newly forming family traditions. Before Ponygirl's first Christmas, I could barely remember a joyful Christmas. It wasn't until after I had kids that I really understood that Christmas could feel good.

For most of my twenties, I always travelled on or around Christmas. Throughout the months-long season I would always remind myself that I had a trip to look forward to. I wouldn't have a reason to decorate and I always picked up extra hours at work to compensate for my upcoming time off. The rare years that I didn't take a trip were almost unbearable.

I don't remember when Christmas turned into a bummer for me. Nothing traumatic has ever happened, there isn't any particular event surrounding this time that triggers a panic for me. We always celebrated quite joyfully growing up and parents and sisters readily embrace it all.

In this moment I feel as if I am consciously making the decision for this year. As a mom, the season depends on me. Mr. Foxwood isn't going to go pick out a tree by himself. The kids aren't going to hang the jingle bells and stuff the mittens. It all comes down to me.

This will be our fourth year celebrating as a family. We will get a tree and send out cards. As a mom, I don't really have a choice. I do it for them and it is worth every little bit.