The last time I remember enjoying Christmas was the year I got a tiny, not-quite-functional toy blender. (Its plastic blade could swirl water, but it was never going to chop or purée.) That was approximately 46 years ago.
To be fair, it’s not just Christmas I’ve disliked. After Halloween, life has historically gone downhill for me. Too soon, Thanksgiving arrives in all its cranberry loaf glory–and I either have to provide a dish, which is always overwhelming for some reason, or not provide one, which makes me feel guilty.
Then, within what feels like 3 days, comes Christmas. That means never getting around to sending out Christmas cards (and therefore not receiving many because I’ve been X’ed off so many senders’ lists), buying too many or too few gifts (always forgetting someone), wrapping, untangling garland crap, doing an abysmal and last-minute job decorating, and so on.
New Year’s Eve and day are typically no better. I stopped wanting to go out and celebrate drunkenly many years ago, and the tradition that replaced that (Thai take-out and sometimes an impromptu dance party with family friends) fizzled out as our kids have gotten older. By the time Valentine’s rolls around, I am spent, in serious need of sunshine and warmth–and no more mandated holidays.
So, year after year, it’s about St. Patrick’s Day when I snap out of my funk. That’s a third of the year wishing time would just hurry up and pass.
This year things seem different. Halloween, instead of a grim harbinger of holidays to come, was delightfully unremarkable. And 2020’s revised Thanksgiving— outside with mittens, masks, and cold gelatinous gravy—was surprisingly doable.
Christmas is about two weeks away as I write this. The tree’s up and has lights on it (the work of my husband), but the ornaments are still on the back porch in Rubbermaid containers. I don’t know where the kids’ stockings are or what to buy my mom, who insists she doesn’t want anything.
And I am not flustered or harried or disgusted with myself for the typical disarray.
What’s changed? Maybe I’ve mellowed in middle-age, maybe I’ve come to accept that my personality doesn’t respond to a forced timeline of jolliness, maybe I’ve finally surrendered.
All I know is that I haven’t been consumed, for months, with anxiety and irritability and self-loathing. I’m even kind of anticipating making some nice memories. This, my friends, is a true holiday miracle.
*an earlier version of THM was published in The Mighty.