Happy-ish Holidays!

I’ve decided that I will lose my mind if I only ever blog about writing, grammar, and my love/hate relationship with the English language, so I had been planning on a holiday post basically since I started this blog. 

Of course, I’m late writing that post, which is sort of a perfect metaphor for my holidays. I’ve had a crazy whirlwind road trip, countless marathon work sessions, last-minute house guests, and my cat darted out the back door at least three times in December, which meant a few fun moments for my neighbors as they watched me chase after him in my pajamas. Mild chaos has been the theme of the season.

The greatest road trip companion, and the super cool plate he found for me.

The greatest road trip companion, and the super cool plate he found for me.

Being late also means I have the benefit of hindsight as I reflect on the holidays. I will not lie, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, despite being raised in a faith that celebrates it. Thanksgiving has always been the Big Annual Holiday in my family. We gather every year near where I grew up, and around 20 family members usually attend. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see people who live far away, family members who are turning into cherished friends as well. 

Christmas, on the other hand, used to be about presents, time off from school, and a handful of lovely traditions with my immediate family. Now I do my best not to get presents. I am actively trying to simply my life, including my stuff. I have 15 books sitting unread on my shelf. I do not have room in my dresser and closet for all of my clothes, and my material needs are fairly simple. I’m not bragging, and I’m by no means austere. I just really don’t want things. If I have friends or family who want to recognize the holiday, I usually try to arrange a nice meal out, or some other experience we can share. So I’ve crossed presents off my list of things to love about the holiday. 

Time off is something I’m incredibly blessed with. I took a week off in early December “just because.” I ran away on the aforementioned road trip the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas, and then my regular employer announced 15 minutes before the end of my work day on December 23 that I did not have to go in the next day. There were 23 business days in December and I was on vacation for 14 of them. I have absolutely enjoyed all that time off, and I am filled with gratitude that I have the option, but it could happen any time of year and I would be just as happy. So I'll celebrate that aspect of the season, but it's not as special as it was when I was 11. 

As for traditions, I am finding that it’s fun to make new ones as the situation warrants it. Last year on Christmas I was doped up on pain meds after having my tonsils removed. I had brunch with my then-boyfriend and his family, then went to play video games at a friend’s house for a few hours. The year before I crashed a dear friend’s family dinner in the afternoon (with her permission!), then saw a movie. This year I woke up early, played with my boyfriend's new kitten, got some editing work done, and after a lazy breakfast we drove to the mountains and had a glorious, if exhausting, three-hour hike with our dogs (next year I'm gunning to bring the kitten along). We both kept commenting on what an amazing Christmas it was, but really it was just an amazing Friday.

Cruzan (the tall, black dog) and Maggie (the reddish blur in the bottom left corner) enjoying the woods.

Cruzan (the tall, black dog) and Maggie (the reddish blur in the bottom left corner) enjoying the woods.

I have all the usual holiday complaints you hear from Scrooges: the music (dear GOD, the incessant music…I think I had “All I Want for Christmas” stuck in my head for a week straight, thanks to Love Actually), the lines at the store, the cold, the pressure to be merry. But the thing that moves me from the apathy part of the Christmas-fanaticism spectrum over to actual dislike is the expectation that I enjoy it. My family, who celebrated the holiday with me for years, doesn’t necessarily relate to the transition I’ve made to “meh” on the subject. When I tell people I’m “not really into Christmas,” I get a mixture of bewilderment and sadness on my behalf, which is totally unwarranted. I am happy to celebrate (or not celebrate) the way that I do, but I do get a little tired of having that be A Thing That Needs Explanation. 

I did ring in the New Year in style, gabbing with friends on my couch in our pajamas while we drank wine and half-heartedly watched New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. It was the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of 2016, a year that I hope brings good health, prosperity, and more good times than bad to everyone I love, and everyone they love. Meanwhile, whether your holidays were good, bad, indifferent, or nonexistent, I hope you have many Amazing Fridays (and, sure, all the other days too) this year!