Twenty-two more days and counting until Christmas…
When I was younger, I looked forward to Christmas. Not because of decorating the Christmas tree or picking out Christmas cards. Not because of picking out presents to give others. It was because of the memories associated with the time and the true meaning of what Christmas
The reason I put “was” is because it doesn't feel like that anymore. Christmas doesn't have that same ambiance of peace. That same spirit of giving and being grateful. It seems like it has been de emphasized and/or replaced.
When I was growing up, I was grateful for whatever gift I received, even if it wasn't the one I asked for.
Now, you have some kids pitching a hissy fit if they can’t have the latest toy, a new cell phone, or the same things their friends have.
My grandparents had limits on what they could spend financially for my having a Christmas gift. I understood that and accepted it. I didn't try to push the issue just to get my way.
However, I have witnessed parents bowing down to what the kids want just by the kids whining or making their parents feel guilty, even if this puts a financial strain on their own pockets.
For me, the spirit of Christmas was about getting together with family. I remember helping Grandma out with the cooking and baking, eventually being old enough to take over baking the desserts. There were people chipping in, interacting with each other, followed by sitting around the dinner table to enjoy their meal.
Things seem different.
More often than not, people come by, just to see whether the food is done, not to really interact. Even if there is a situation where people are asked to bring a plate, some people don’t even want to do that. They want to receive but did nothing in terms of giving. On top of that, they don’t even stay to socialize but just walk on off. Things just seem more stressful than they have to be.
The energy I used to feel towards the holidays isn't the same. I try to hold on to the feel good of old, but there’s just so much foolishness out there that my spirit feels very sad. The move out to New Jersey was a tough one, but at the time when I did, I was placed in a better predicament financially, plus I was with someone who was into that type of togetherness as much as I was. It was easy for me to hold on to the ambiance on those holidays when I couldn't get down South to see my family because I was around a family type feel.
Then, once that relationship disintegrated, I had to reset. I haven’t really made enough friends out here in NJ, particularly in the area where I reside in now, to bring back that holiday feel. Then, on top of that, my grandfather passed away about a year ago to cancer, and Christmas was one of his favorite holidays.
I've never been big on the whole Black Friday shopping. If I was to shop for anyone, I’d do it on either before Black Friday or online, so I won’t have to deal with the crowds.
I used to buy a lot of gifts for different people, but as time went on, I realized I was doing a lot of giving to people who were just content on doing nothing but receiving. Once I stopped doing that, the number of people I did Christmas shopping for decreased significantly.
I also decided for people who are hard to buy for just to arm them with cash or a gift card of some sort.
Grandpa was one of the main people I shopped for as it pertained to gifts. Last year was hard—I found myself picking out things for him and then I had to stop myself because by that time, he had been gone for about seven months. Yet, my mind was still plotting shipping costs and how to get the things in the mail on time. Or having a left over Christmas card with sentiments for a Grandfather. It took a lot for me not to start boo hooing in the store.
Fast forward to the present…and I still have good days and bad days.
Yesterday, since I didn't get a chance to last weekend, I finally decided to bake some pumpkin pies. Grandpa could eat a whole pie by himself. Sometimes, he’d barely wait until they were cooled off before slicing one. I could always tell when it was him verses Grandma because Grandpa would always cut the pie kind of funny. Then, Grandma and I would have to compensate for the uneven slicing.
I found myself getting teary eyed when eating a slice of the pie. I would always eat a slice last, since I was the one baking it. I just kept imagining Grandpa had already had a slice of pie and would be back up and down through the night, eating a piece at a time until there was an empty aluminum plate where the pie had been.
My depression this year isn't as bad as it was last year. I am going to try to create a new tradition with the person I’m with—to capture the feel good, the true spirit of the Christmas holidays, even if it ends up just being the two of us.