The Holidays

I never used to hate the holidays.

As I get older, the holidays seem to get bigger and bigger and more overwhelming, as if they are some out of control beast. The obligations never seem to lessen, they just get bigger.

I get that I’m totally selfish. I would really love to spend the holidays doing exactly what I want to do. I would like go sledding, take the kids over to a friend’s house, let them play, hang out for a bit and not overstuff myself (as mentioned in previous blogs, eating is not my thing these days, so gathering around a bunch of food I can’t eat really doesn’t appeal to me. After all, putting a fat girl who can’t eat at a table loaded up with goodies is cruel and unusual punishment). At my parents’ house, I will be expected not only to cook, but also to eat it. I will be made fun of if I don’t eat, and if I do… well, let’s just say, it’s not pretty.

All of this will make me pissy.

A friend of mine recently blogged about simplifying her life. She lives in a loft with her three year old and her husband, and I have to say, I totally respect her for that choice. I’m amazed she can make it work. One of her recommendations is to cut the fat–trimming away those things you don’t need.

As I sit here surrounded by piles of crap, I find I totally agree with her. There is so much junk in this house we never use and we don’t need. And it’s like that in other aspects of my life–my life is cluttered. Cluttered with junk, cluttered with stress, cluttered with relationships that are plainly toxic but I can’t seem to get rid of. The clutter in my house is an extension of the clutter in every other aspect of my life.

I carry around so much baggage it’s overwhelming. It seems to me like we’re all jockeying for position, for the power in the relationship. But if there has to be a loser in a relationship, is that relationship really worth having?

I should just start saying no, I should start doing things to make me happy, because I seem to collect obligations and relationships I don’t need. And every year at this time, I think to myself, “If I could do anything for X holiday, what would it be?”

Every year I come up with a scenario that will never play out. Every. Single. Year.

Every year, M and I will fight over something… The holidays are stressful, and because we can’t fight with the people we’re really mad at, we’ll take it out on each other. Luckily, we know we just have to make it through Christmas and then we’re good for another ten months or so.

Every year, I’ll be stressed out because something isn’t going right. Someone will be unhappy (my mother), someone will be angry (me), someone will be insulted (my father), and a fight will ensue (though, ironically,  not usually with me. I’m usually quietly stewing). And we’ll all warn one another what topics are off limits (my parenting skills, my mother’s cooking skills {or lack thereof}, medicine, politics, religion, the state of education, law enforcement, or my childhood memories), and after the list is complete, we will be relegated to talking about the weather, which itself is not always a safe topic.

I don’t want to go someplace and eat. I honestly don’t see why we can’t all get together on a day that’s not a holiday, if spending time together is so important. But the fact remains, it’s not the togetherness that’s important–it’s the day that’s important. And really, while I try to rationalize what I’m planning on doing, I think, it’s only two days a year. I can put on my big girl panties (thankfully, I have a lot of them) and deal with everyone else’s crap for two days. I get that it’s all about control in my family, and controlling the actions of others. I get that there’s no such thing as a holiday about me, or even one in which I have any sort of say in what happens. But it’s two days a year for the sake of a tenuous peace for the rest of it.

But my friend is right: there is happiness in reducing the clutter, whether it’s physical clutter or emotional baggage. I should try it some time. Because right now, I’ve got so much crap I should be featured on Hoarders.

And crap doesn’t make you happy… It just makes things messier.


One thought on “The Holidays”

  1. Why not do a holiday reboot? Just you and your little family? Say “this year has been so overwhelming we need a break.”

    Another thing my sister and I started a few years ago was to set a ridiculously low dollar amount for gifts – nothing over $10 per person. It forces you to be creative and have fun with it – and it keeps expectations low. But not something that works for kids.

    M and I completely de-stressed our Christmases by celebrating on Christmas eve. That is harder with P, though. This year she has an anticipation of Christmas for the very first time. And she refers to the toy store as “the present store.”

    All I can say is that if I lived in the same town with family, I would still be getting sucked into their constant! crisis! mode! It is nice to be 600 miles away. I sometimes feel sorry for P that she doesn’t have grandparents, but then again, she doesn’t have crazy grandparents, either.

    Anyway. *hugs* and good luck getting through it!

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