I don’t know what it is about the holidays that makes me so depressed. Is it the fact that kabillions of animals get slaughtered in the name of traditional turkey, goose and/or ham dinners? Is it the fact that the TV is on in the background at every event and its streaming commentary on popular culture is disturbing at best? Is it the fact that all year I struggle with health and mindful eating only to get hurled screaming into situation after situation of pure gastronomic debauchery? The peer-pressure with cookie swaps and pot lucks is also exceptionally lametastic with these being the same folks that go on and on with their “loose weight” resolutions a week later. But that isn’t really it.
Maybe it is the “home for the holidays” mantra I’m beat over the head with from the seasonal music lyrics, to he Facebook posts, to the friggin packaging on the egg nog. I don’t actually have a home. 10.5 months out of the year being completely digital and transient is just fine, and in many ways preferred. There is a certain amount of comfort to always being new in town. No one asks you to help them move. You don’t have to get dressed to go out. I used to say that the first time I run into someone I know at a grocery store, it is time to move on. But once Thanksgiving starts oozing out of the air and into the home decoration isle, I’m bummed out. From a rental, into a rental with a rental on the horizon, nothing feels “homey”. Practical, yes. An adventure, yes. But never homey. And that “home is where your family is” bit is a load of crap. Anyone who ever spent Christmas on a cruise ship knows that. It doesn’t matter how many family members are on the ship – no amount of midnight buffet shrimp cocktail will ever be described as Christmas Magic. But that isn’t really it either.
Maybe it is the feeling that the Ghost of Christmas Past has me in a death-grip headlock. I can’t be the only one that looks back at a year, or series of years, and wonders if that was it… you know – The Window… into what Christmas really is and now it is gone forever. My window was the end of high school beginning of college when the world was full of infinite choices, wrapped in a tight-knit group of friends, sprinkled with a large family living within a few miles of each other, deep fried in dusting of snow and topped with a fuzzy sweater. The holidays marked the first time we were all back again from school, full of stories and new adventures but surrounded by familiar faces and hangouts. The days were devoted to family, games and food and then the nights were reunions of the best of friends – the kinds of friends that you can still call out of the blue after 20 years but no time has passed. Those were the holidays that felt like holidays and smiles and hugs that actually meant love – not the tragedy of affection that the “Free Hug” guy gives out at ComiCon. If I could freeze tag those years and stuff them in a snow globe that I could put on my mantle from November 25th-ish to January 2nd, I’d be a happy camper. But I can’t, and as much as I want to pull those days off the shelf, spread them out on the floor and roll around on them for a while, I’d really rather find something that makes me feel like that but in the here and now. Something I can look forward to every year rather than looking back at from farther and farther away. So.. that it isn’t it either.
So what is it that makes late November and most of December taste like warm Coke? No idea. All of the above? None of the above? Maybe someday the Nexus ribbon will wash over me and I’ll be making breakfast with William Shatner and all my friends from high school in an idealistic version of rustic cabin kitchen. But probably not. More realistically my Hallmark Holidays will begin when my daughter Madison starts to “get it”, most likely next year. At two and a half years old we can start Elf on the Shelf, cookies for Santa, countdown calendars… I’ll choke my “meh”s to death with popcorn strings and construction paper chains. Hopefully there won’t be an app for any of that. I suppose one last year of Meh-y Christmas won’t kill me… So a toast (or several) to to a VERY MERRRRRY December 2014 :)