Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas dispirit

Me and Christmas don't get along. In years past I spent a lot of time stressing out about doing what I was supposed to do and going where I was supposed to go. Then I spent a lot of time feeling guilty because I didn't want to do what was expected of me, and my lack of a Christmas spirit would ruin everyone's holiday if I didn't play along. The holidays have been a source of stress and a deep ill at ease feeling that I can't really put words to.

Christmas was a really big deal when I was growing up. My mom loved the holidays, and was determined to make it magical and special and wonderful for us, even when it was just the two of us. I knew she was sad that it was just us, the way kids know but don't understand and can't talk about. She did a lot of pretending, I think, so it could be special for me. She bought me presents and said they were from my dad, when Dad didn't get me anything. She continued the lie of Santa as long as she could. I believed that lie for a long, long time. My mom, after all, knew everything. She'd know if Santa wasn't real, right?

When I discovered that Santa was not, in fact, real, I felt cheated and angry. More than that, I felt like I was the butt of a secret adult joke. A joke where if I was good enough I'd get just what I wanted; a joke where if I behaved myself, that elusive man that I never really saw would continue to love me. In my mind, I think I got Santa and God and my dad a little bit confused; really it just seemed like a bunch of men letting me down, pretending to love me but never really giving me what I wanted. When I stopped believing in the lie of Santa, I also stopped believing in a God who loves me if I'm good. Being good didn't win me more time with my dad, and it certainly never got me the pony I asked for year after year.

I'm no longer mad about the pony, and I understand a lot more about my dad than I did back then, but I think if I had a child I wouldn't raise it to believe that love and presents were conditional on good behaviour.

That being said, if someone out there wants to buy me a pony I prefer an appaloosa. Oh, and roller skates. Galaxy red ones.

1 comment:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Ok, I know it's several weeks after Christmas at this point, but I'm just catching up and wanted to say I have had some really similar feelings and experiences around Christmas. It was a big deal in my family, I don't relate to the fantasy or expectations anymore and I struggle with how to integrate it into my life now. This year went better than years past, but no saying how next year will go.

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