PART I MY PHILOSOPHY:
THE WINTER HOLIDAYS ARE JUST THAT--A HOLIDAY FROM USUAL LIFE
I'm one of those people who likes Christmas. And Thanksgiving. Not so much New Year's. . .
I like visiting with family--at their houses or mine. I like entertaining for friends. . .figuring out the recipes, the right combo of foods that will blend and compliment each other; the right combo of complexity in recipes, some that are super simple, some that are more complex. I like deciding on how to decorate the table, using dishes that basically only get used for this season. I even like accomplishing some de-cluttering --removing that stuff that usually just sits around the rest of the year.
I like setting up my collections of Santas and snowmen and birds for my Christmas tree. I can't help myself; I pick out new things to add every year.
I like the holiday music. I like hearing 18 different versions of the same Christmas song, especially if they are quite different instead of just a little different. (Who couldn't be struck by the jubilant rhythms from Black Nativity?)
One the the greatest things I've ever heard was our friend Mark singing the bass part of Handel's Messiah at the church he sings for (he's one of those HIRED singers); I was so amazed at the beauty of his voice, I nearly wept.
I love the communal holiday excuse that makes it OK to sing aloud--that everyone sings along. Once in New England, we went to RI for this outdoor Christmas festival. . . it was cold. . .but people were in Victorian costume on the sidewalks singing, ringing bells. . . just like out of Dickens. It was like a sugarplum dream come true.
I love A Christmas Carol. I own Scrooge and The Muppets' Christmas Carol and watch them both more than once a year. I watch other TV versions if I find them. It's the same with It's a Wonderful Life.
In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, every time I see the dog Max (I admit I had to look up his name) on the back of that sleigh with his tongue hanging out, I at least smile--but I'm more apt to have a hearty giggle.
I adore the music from A Charlie Brown's Christmas, even though my friend, Anma said it was the saddest, saddest music and that she always found the Peanuts specials depressing because the background behind the characters is so dark.
I love Gene Autry's Christmas music and can't get beyond thinking that a child's holidays would be bereft without it.
I get a great deal of pleasure shopping for gifts for people I love. These are the easy ones: buying for people who need a lot of things but can't afford them or who spend on others first (who usually don't need it as much )--like MY MOTHER; buying for people who appreciate anything I pick for them and who squeal with delight--just in the gift selection process I am taken back to warm and happy times--like for My SISTER. I like picking out small cute or beautiful things to surprise people who aren't expecting anything from me.
I love colored lights. During the holiday season, even a red stoplight on a midnight blue sky somehow seems more beautiful and vivid to me.
I love fat Santas.
I like Christmas shopping in a light snow, and I am heart warmed by stores that gift wrap for free.
And I love the little surprises and elegant delights that make up stocking stuffers. My favorite will always be the little bottle of White Shoulders perfume my mom gave me one of last years my parents were still together.
I consider Thanksgiving and Christmas and the time in between and until New Year's a holiday. I'm not saying I get the whole time off from work. . . but it's a holiday from my usual life. I fill in all my spare minutes with shopping online, looking at catalogs & sales papers, creating lists--people to send cards to, things to do, grocery items--wrapping gifts, decorating, and shopping. It's tiring. But I like it.
I debated this year whether I should really do these usual things or if I should toe the line and stay focused on going to the gym and the pool and planning and cooking healthy dinners. All that is new enough for me that I can't really fit it in and have a holiday. I decided I would feel worse to give up the holiday. The holidays invigorate me and cheer me. They get me ready for January--the only real winter month in Atlanta. (Thank goodness!) I need the color and songs of this holiday to make it through the bleak midwinter. And there have plenty of years where I didn't have the energy and spirit to get out of depression to feel this energized for celebrating.
I talked to PhD about it. She advised taking the holiday in chunks--not abandoning all healthy eating and behavior, but paring back on it. In the last week, with the laryngitis, I've been less than stellar at following her advice, but still. . . I felt this huge burden of anxiety leave me when we talked about it. I mean, it's either let myself have the holiday, or let myself have it with a HUGE, weighted burden of GUILT on the top of it. This year, I tried to let go of the guilt. I'll take the consequences--good and bad. Or at least I'll try to. Because after all, 'Tis the season . . .