He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. —Psalm 113:9

December 24, 2008

Blue Christmas

sad at christmasIt has happened. All month long I've been in a cheerful mood, too distracted by everything I needed to get done to have time to think. But now things are winding down, and I'm finding time for that most dangerous thing, introspection. Introspection rarely, if ever, makes me happy, especially around holidays. That's probably because I always focus on the things that disappoint, instead of on the things I have to be happy about and grateful for. And then I have guilt and shame, because I know I have plenty to be grateful for, like a job and a mortgage in good standing and the luxury of being able to afford gifts for my loved ones, who can still afford gifts for me in return, and all of that's just for starters, and now I'm sorry it's too late to pick an angel from the Angel Tree.

But disappointment nags. Worse yet, I can't put my finger on what, exactly, is disappointing me. It's a number of little things, really. Little unmet expectations all adding up to one big empty feeling, a feeling that makes me not want to get out of bed, let alone wrap presents and bake and put on a happy face for the family. Going to the mall yesterday didn't help. I think a shopping mall right before Christmas must be one of the circles of Hell. It's impossible to shop there for any length of time without becoming stressed and angry, and with the mall traffic and the parking situation, the anger and stress starts before you even get inside. And then I have more guilt and shame, because I know that Christmas isn't about presents or tree trimming or surviving the mall, or even hanging out with family. I'm a Christian. I know what tomorrow is supposed to be about. But I'm not feeling it. And that's just one more unmet expectation to add to the heap.

So I go through the motions, and hope that faking it will at some point make it so. If that doesn't, then maybe copious amounts of fudge and spiked eggnog will make it happen, at least for a few minutes. Sweet little sugar and alcohol-induced bursts of happiness to get me through the day. Maybe that's what this commercialized First World brand of Christmas is really all about.

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