I don't believe in frettin' and grievin';
Why mess around with strife?
I never was cut out to step and strut out.
Give me the simple life. (link)
I’ll dive right in by saying I am not a fan of the holiday season...at all. Get the ‘Bah, humbug!’ out of the way and hear me out. I don’t like any Hallmark holiday, and an ultra-condensed six-week (we can only wish it were that short!) phantasmagoric overload of tinsel and twinkle and tinny rehashed music is just too much to bear.
I don’t need a date on the calendar to remind me to be thankful for my family and friends, for the life we share. That internal gratitude is all that keeps me going in the face of the often petty and spiteful society we find ourselves immersed in. Yet every November, we cram upwards of twenty of us into one medium-sized home (no McMansions in our family), juggle paper (or worse, Styrofoam) plates full of high-calorie food we avoid the rest of the year, stuff ourselves to uncomfortable condition, and then far too often scurry off to the other side of the family for round two. The too-short visit and the crush of bodies are not conducive to any real connection, no chance to catch up on events since the last get-together. We barely get past the when did you cut your hair...how’s school...are you still working at XX and it’s time to hit the road, especially for those of us who dared move out of town away from the family fold.
Hallmark, Hollywood and television would like us to believe holidays are a picture-perfect wonderland of love and tradition. Expectations are set impossibly high, stress levels rise to match, and exhausting efforts to recreate that Currier & Ives scene take over. If you buy into the hype, the whole thing can be nothing but a disappointment on at least some level.
Which is why I prefer less fuss, less hype, and smaller, simpler gatherings on more frequent occasions. We’ve started our own tradition of birthday dinners out, just hubby and me with our kids and their significant others, or with our parents when we can work out the logistics. On a good year, that gives up eight or more chances to share a nice meal that doesn’t destroy healthy eating habits in one fell swoop and to stay up-to-date on more mundane, but ultimately more important, topics of life. We stay connected. And we are thankful.
Don’t even get me started on Christmas...