Thursday, 24 December 2009

I Miss Christmas

I miss Christmas.

Or rather, I miss the Christmas of my youth. I vividly recall the building anticipation and excitement that each Christmas brought. I especially loved the years, like this one, where Christmas fell near the weekend. School would let out a week before Christmas, and that week would be a special time of anticipation, with the most intense feelings of love, happiness and togetherness that I can recall. Christmas was special.

These intense feelings and the memories they've created, lasted well into adulthood. Until I started working full time. And for a while it did not help that my wife started to hate Christmas. She was working full time as a Dept. Manager at the local Bay. Which meant that the Christmas songs started playing endlessly in the store from October on. She only got one weekend off each month, with many late hours working midnight madnesses and other such consumer-oriented plans retail stores organized in pursuit of the almighty dollar. The Christmas season sucks the soul out of retail employees and I am surprised that none of them have gone "postal" over the years. Maybe when that event occurs, the term for "postal" will change to "yulenuts".

So for almost 10 years, Christmas lost much of its meaning. I'd work without break right up to Christmas, missing that slow build up of anticipation that was so instrumental in creating the emotions that carried me through the season. It felt like it was here one day, gone the next, much like any other day of the year. My wife banned all Christmas music from the home, as hearing it all day at work was sending her around the bend. Our home while not joyless, was not exactly joy-welcoming.

Then we decided to have children. My wife quit her job to become a full-time caregiver. My sons are infected with the Christmas spirit as only children can be. Slowly, the Christmas spirit is finding its way back into my home.

And yet.

Here it is December 24th. Christmas eve. I'm stuck in a time-warp where I think it should be some time in November. I can't seem to slow down and let the slow build of happiness and anticipation take root. Christmas still rushes up to me, and waves merrily in passing. All I'm left with is the credit card bills, and a slight nauseous feeling from chugging soon to expire eggnog.

I've also saddled myself with the curse of atheism during a holiday that used to have deep religious significance for me. Even as protestants, without mass and the other sacraments that we mocked the Catholics for, Christmas was a special time. Each Sunday in December would celebrate the coming birth of the saviour, the Christ-child, the promise of sins forgiven and life begun anew. While never approaching the somber spiritual introspection and renewal that came with Easter, Christmas was a pre-thanksgiving. We thanked God for the coming deliverance and the profound insight and sacrifice that it entailed.

So here I am, a "born again" atheist that wants his Christmas back, who cannot find the time to truly appreciate it anymore.

Therefore, today I will turn on the Christmas music, sing along with "Joy to the World" without a sense of irony, sip my eggnog and love my family. If I can't have my week, I am going to have a day or two. And I will treasure every minute of it.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas! May the spirit of peace, love and togetherness find you wherever you are.


Ken Breadner said...

Catelli, you and I really do seem to inhabit the same mental space sometimes. Every year, and more and more with each year that passes, I lament Christmases past and dread those in the future, while finding nowhere near enough time to properly enjoy the present. I keep meaning to ask my parents--or better yet, my wife's grandma (every other of my close relations from that generation has, alas, died)--if Christmas has always been this bipolar...a source of endless joy for the children and endless stress for the adults.

Merry Christmas, anyway, and enjoy that eggnog.

Sir Francis said...

...and enjoy that eggnog.

I'll second that. For the record, eggnog had always been the best thing about Christmas for me. I drank gallons of it as a kid--still do, though now those gallons are rum-spiked, and I always need to spend hours of the stationary bike throughout January to work off the post-Christmas poundage!

Catelli said...

Sir Francis: Dump the rum and switch to Kaluha. Chocolate liqueur and Eggnog combined is a concoction so delightful it could have only come from Santa, err Satan himself. Actually, I find almost any liqueur blends better than rum. Rum I find won't blend, whereas the liqueurs smoothly blend throughout, with no settling.

Ken: As further proof of that weird mind-meld thing we inhabit at times, I was thinking of asking that question this year myself! But I'm not going to, the answer may spoil the season.

Cheers to you both!

ADHR said...

I'll be odd man out and say I don't actually miss that childish anticipation. (I never had the religious angle, though.) It led at least as often to disappointment as satisfaction. Reduced expectations and taking joy/pride in smaller, subtler things seems to me to be a benefit to maturation. Applies to Christmas, birthdays, what have you.

Rocketstar said...

Yeah, I too come from a religious family that celebrated xmas and it was a great time. What we Atheists need to remember or not forget is that although we are Atheists, we are also cultural Christians. So we continue to have a tree (a solstice tree), lights, presents etc... (those things we loved about xmas) but we have removed Jesus and religion from it all.

We celebrate the Winter Solstice now but maintain some of those great xmas cultural behaviors because why shoudl we let Jesus ruin those things ;o)

Plus, with kids, celbrating the winter solstice enables us to open gifts earlier than Christain families which provides the kids with more days to enjoy their new toys during thier long holiday break from school.

Happy Holidays.

Catelli said...

Rocketstar: interesting notion.

Adam: Forgive me, but you sound more "cynical" than "mature". I do get the point,especially in regards to birthdays, but I'm so cynical about the damned things I'd rather forgo them altogether.

I'm not sure whose viewpoint that supports!

ADHR said...

There's a difference between maturity and cynicism? :P

Catelli said...

Not when you're at a Philosophy conference questioning career choices!