Why Do We Make Scrooges of Ourselves?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I have to admit that I generally enjoy the holidays . . . a lot. I like the music. I like the decorations. I like the gift exchanges. With winter's very apparent arrival in the Northland, it's a little hard to believe that Christmas is still nearly a month away.

Yet it seems we're all busily preparing for the holiday season: figuring out holiday budgets, planning the Christmas cookie bakeathon, pulling out the boxes of decorations. There's a little more money this year nationally and as a whole, that seems to make us all a little more panicked. Retailers are busily shoving their wares down our throats. Hand-in-hand with "making up" for the recent Christmases past, is a general "scrooge"iness. When we pause from our merry-making, we are forced to grapple with what this fleeting holiday madness is really all about.

Over the last couple weeks, many, many mommy blogs have discussed family holiday decoration projects. And there's a trend among these holiday decorating events: that they did not go as well as imagined, that some of that special holiday magic just didn't mix well with reality. Sure the decorating was funny and happy overall, but there were also tears involved, as well as shouting, running noses and basically, all things not Norman Rockwell. This morning on MPR, Peter Smith complained about the prevalence of carbohydrates over the holiday season. For it only being November 30th, it seems we already fostering some pretty hefty grudges against Holiday Season 2010.

So why do we make this time of year so stressful?

It seems our very intent of making the holidays special is what causes so much of our despair. 

We want our holiday traditions to be perfect and charming and meaningful, but often don't deal well with misplaced expectations.The belief that we should have special (fattening) foods this time of year causes dietary nightmares. We force ourselves into family social gatherings that never happen any time of year and then wonder why they didn't go so well. We worry about money. We worry about the weather. We worry, worry, worry.

Maybe this year it's time to stop all of this. If we could learn to stop at what truly makes us happy this holiday season (maybe don't eat that last Christmas cookie) and to deal with what's in our control, we might fare a little better.  And I'm not sure making the holiday season special is really something we're meant to control. It seems like the holidays are meant to be a little more organic than that.

The holiday magic will come, or it won't.  The Advent season is about leaving our hearts open, letting the holiday magic creep in when we least expect it. 

1 comment:

  1. On one of my moms' forums, a very worried mother posted that, for the first time, she and her family were getting a fake tree. She was worried that her kids would be disappointed or upset if they grew up without a real tree and the "experience" of going out and picking one out. This sentiment was echoed by other moms.

    I couldn't get my head around this. Does it really matter? Sadly, the kids are going to be more interested with what's UNDER the tree than whether or not it came out of a box.


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