Why can’t we celebrate one holiday at a time? Is that asking too much?
I went to the store yesterday to buy Halloween candy and already the Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff is out. It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. We used to anticipate and savor every holiday on its own. We didn’t mash them all together.
This holiday goulash phenomenon upsets me for a couple of reasons. The holidays stress me out. So many memories – good and bad – so much eating and drinking and shopping. So many expectations, which – let’s face it – are nothing more than premeditated disappointments.
The other problem with putting the little boxes of Milk Duds and bite size Reece’s cups next to the Nutcracker dude (who has always freaked me out) and the Christmas cards (which don’t address themselves, you know) is that I have a really, really hard time staying present. The whole here-and-now thing evaporates as soon as I hear Feliz Navidad – which will probably be tomorrow, the day after Halloween.
Being present is so incredibly difficult when you’re assaulted by Christmas in October. And being present is so incredibly important to my mental health. I have a rule in my house that is strictly enforced: No Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. No humming, whistling or training the dog to bark Jingle Bells.
I learned about being present a few years ago. I was stressed out about something that had happened and a friend asked me for the time. I looked at my watch and told him the time. He asked again. And I told him again. He asked again. And I got ticked off. Then he said “It’s now.”
I took off my watch and haven’t worn it since. During my last major depression I was in the future, wondering if my life would always be like this or I was in the past, reminding myself how lame I was because I couldn’t work.
Sometimes, being present makes me very uncomfortable. Being present means I have to feeeeeel my feeeeeeeeelings and I don’t like feeeeeeeeeelings. I would rather relive some past wrong done to me and roll around in resentment than feeeeeel my current feeeeeelings.
Tonight I’m going to hand out candy. I’m not going to think about who is making the damn turkey this year or how to get to dog to sit still for the family Christmas card. I’m going to hand out Reece’s cups and Milk Duds. That’s it.
Photo by Paul Wells, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Last reviewed: 1 Nov 2011