Thursday, December 26, 2013

post christmas post



Some of you might have figured out that this has not usually been my favorite time of year. In the past for many years I actively hated it. The constant christmas carols and winter songs everywhere you go, the encroachment on Thanksgiving and now Halloween, the sappy christmas shows and specials on TV that take over, the ridiculous over-commercialization, the unreal expectations, the obligatory nature of the gift giving, the absurd claim that any tragedy that happens in December is somehow worse because it happened at this time of year, the so-called 'war on christmas' because other people celebrate other holidays at this time of year and like to have that acknowledged.

If it could just be contained to a week or so it would be so much more tolerable.

I'm not nearly so bad about it as I have been. Mostly these days I'm fairly ambivalent about it though I still avoid going into stores from Thanksgiving on.

And actually there are some customs I like about it like the outdoor lights and the ornaments, especially the glass mold blown antique ones. I have several from my childhood that I think I've finally figured out how to display, if I can find room. And bringing trees in the house. And even the idea of gift giving.

But these are modern variations of the ancient, older than christmas, mid-winter solstice celebration customs and if I think of this season in those terms, I find I am starting to reconnect with some of the pleasure. Eat, drink, and be merry. And be generous.

Yes, I can definitely get behind that.

Maybe next year I'll light some luminarias on the longest night and bring in some pine or cedar boughs. Can't in good conscience bring in a tree. They are, after all, living sentient beings. You don't just cut one down to display it's corpse and then throw it on the trash pile.

The reason for the season is much more fundamental than any one god's claim to a day or festival or celebration. It is the end of the long night, the promise of the warmth and life to come, food is still abundant from the harvests, the ale and wine made earlier in the year has matured, there is more leisure time while the fields lay dormant. The turning of the wheel.

It is the rhythm of life.



16 comments:

Cynthia said...

I was a beast this year. I have a lifetime hangover from decades of Christmas ick and wish to move on, making it possible to enjoy the gathering, the feasting and the communing. Alas, I failed to find the spirit yet again. At the end of the day my first thought was--thank god that's over.

But the days are growing longer. This is a good thing.

Ms. Moon said...

Woman- I know exactly what you're talking about.
Hey- have you read this?
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/23/131223fa_fact_pollan

I read it a few days ago and my mind keeps going back to it and boggling. Just boggling.

It's over. Mostly. The madness. We survived again.

susie said...

That was refreshing! I feel better all ready, honestly.

TexWisGirl said...

it has always been a difficult time of year for me since childhood. i'm always glad to turn the calendar page to january.

Linda Wildenstein said...

I agree completely. I know, you're saying what??? The woman who decorates for everything. And the answer is yes. I think I decorate so that I can appease my inner child...not because I really give a ho ho ho. My daughter and I looked at each other after the kids opened gifts and said, "can we take the tree down now??" There have been a couple of years when I did.
And this year with the gratefulness tree, I came really close to truly joyful. I will continue that tradition happily. The non holiday, holiday tree is perfect. And the gifts on it are naturals so, perfection.
I hope you do put out farolitos on longest night. You'll love the glow.
And lookee it do overs again. Bye bye to the madness. Oma Linda

Friko said...

Being German Christmas still means a lot to me, but the reality never comes up to expectations. Over the years my expectations have shrunk and now I’m just glad to have a roof over my head, food and drink and the company of like-minded friends.

Religion is a very minor part of the equation; the big thing is that the natural year is turning and I know that darkness will eventually make way for light.

Best wishes for a good new year.

rosaria williams said...

I never bought it to all the commotion and fuss. But, my husband needs it badly, the decorating, the gift purchasing, the feast. Fortunately for me, this year we were busy with a new grandchild, and hubby had no choice but taper his enthusiasm a bit.

Joanne Noragon said...

I live behind ambivalence--until I see luminaries. Then I look out, smile, and enjoy my ambivalence. The heralds of more light.

Gail said...

I had no tree but we had merriment. When we had trees we would take them to the pond afterwards so the new baby fish would have a protective place to grow.

I don't like what the holiday has turned into the last several years.

Kathleen said...

Yes, indeed. Well put! The rhythm of life and the seasons feels so precious the older I get. I love the drama of the seasons this far north. I even love how crazy early we we get darkness - it's just so lively! I think we've finally figured out the bringing a live tree in dilemma. Our oldest son for the past 3 years has rescued a discarded one -- from people who buy a tree but leave town before Christmas Eve and set it by the curb to be picked up -- and brought them to our house. Sort of recycling Christmas trees. I don't fee so guilty, and in fact, I feel like we've honored that little tree twice by taking it in for one last blast. I love the goodwill I see people show, even if it's only seasonable. I've heard tales of harried moms checking out at Target only to find the person ahead of them paid for their purchase. I love the candles and the smells of fir branches. I love how people share sweets. And I personally wait till the day after Christmas to start the music, which I'm a sucker for -- especially finding renditions by artists that surprise me. But we keep our gift-giving very low-key now -- and for Christmas Eve we order Chinese takeout, which just keeps the whole thing so stress-free. So here's to good cheer and good friends, even ones I have yet to meet in person!

Out on the prairie said...

I never have understood the hype other than encouraging good retail sales. I enjoyed a good set of music with 3 choirs and an orchestra.

Linda Sue said...

totes with you, sister. and the tree thing is barbaric. I go for a walk with Dexter through the park and find boughs that have blown down.

Rubye Jack said...

The only good thing about Christmas is that it's over for another year.

Judy said...

Very similar thoughts to what I have been telling anyone who would listen for years...not too many people listen to me though..have a great Solstice...

Reya Mellicker said...

You and I - on a wavelength. I used to detest the holidays. These days I try to enjoy what I can. They pass more quickly now that I'm older.

Love to you, Ellen, in these first days of the returning light.

Mel said...

I couldn't agree more. If I think of this as a seasonal solstice celebration it's much easier to take. I'm ready to slap the next newcaster squawking about the war on Christmas - what snotty hubris to ignore all the other faiths or lack there of that make up this world.

Thanks for this lovely post.