Evolution of My Holiday Spirit

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Blame it on getting older. Blame it on major changes that have taken place in my life this year. Blame it on my chiropractor, who seems to have restored normal bloodflow to my brain. Whatever the reason, I seem to be in a reflective mood these days. Sit back and enjoy the ride…

1974-1982: The Innocence Stage

“Cool! Presents! Santa must really like me.”

I admit that at a young age this was how I thought. At least once I had actual verbal skills. Sure, the Catholic school tried to indoctrinate me with all that baby Jesus born in a stable stuff, but somehow I just didn’t buy it. At home, I was taught that Christmas wasn’t about gifts, but about love and giving to others. It would take many years for that lesson to really sink in. I spent days on the ground trying to peer through the wrapping paper to the gift underneath, a trick taught to me by my older sister. My mom started using heavier paper once she saw what we were doing. One year, I swore I heard reindeer on the roof of the house. I was patted on the head in a way that told me Santa wasn’t real. Goodbye Christmas innocence.

1983-1989: It’s All a Blur

Sometime between learning that Santa wasn’t real and starting to work at a department store, Christmas just became a blur. I enjoyed the decorations and still loved hunting for the tree and putting up the ornaments. All the memories seem to blend together. The one year that stands out is the year the puppies were born. By Christmas, they were just big enough to be walking around and were just the cutest little white fluff balls you’ve ever seen.

1990-1996: Would You Like a Gift Receipt?

Working retail, especially during the holiday season, is guaranteed to turn you into a cynic. I worked at Gottschalks and quickly realized that people were far too focused on the purchasing of gifts, as illustrated by their stress, short tempers, and desperation. Want to know who is doing the most shopping on the 23rd and 24th? Men. They walked around the stores, grabbing anything that might possibly pass as a thoughtful gift to the women in their lives. At first I thought it was sad. After a year though, I realized it was their own damn faults and quietly mocked them. The materialism of the holidays really hit me during these years and the feeling has never left.

1997-2005: Christmas as an Adult can be Fun with the Right Person

The holidays with my ex-husband were quite enjoyable. We’re divorced because of the whole “I’m a lesbian” thing, not because he wasn’t a good husband or a great guy. If I’d been straight or he’d been a woman, we’d probably still be together. But I digress. He LOVED the holidays. Watching him during November and December was like watching a kid. There were decorations everywhere. Most years, we drove up to Apple Hill and went hunting for a tree at one of the farms. Despite the rain and cold that often accompanied these trips, we had fun. He especially loved spending Christmas with my family because they actually put thought and effort into the holidays and gifts. Christmas with his family was an entirely different story. It usually required tequila for me. These are perhaps the most memorable of my Christmases because they were fun and I had someone to share them with.

2006-2009: Bah. Humbug.

In the simplest terms possible, holidays with my ex-partner sucked. Big time. Stress. Anxiety. Meltdowns. Guilt trips. Silence. And that was all before December 1. If it had been possible, I would have gone into hibernation in mid-November and not come out until February. That’s how much I hated the holidays when we were together. In one year, I went from loving them and having fun to wishing they didn’t exist. The details are irrelevant at this point. My ex made the holidays something to dread and I’m glad those years are over.

2010-?: Thankful

I’ve started to enjoy the holidays again. I have a lot to be thankful about this year. A great new job. Health getting back on track. Family. Friends. Financial stability again. I won’t lie and say that everything is great, but I’m a lot better off than a lot of people and I’m thankful for that.

I still get pretty lonely. Being single during the holidays isn’t easy, but I’m trying to not focus on that. I’d love to be curling up with that someone special in front of a fire, but that just isn’t an option right now. I still hold out hope that it will happen soon. Good things take time though. Until that day, I will enjoy spending time with friends and family. I’m going to enjoy the holidays and carry that spirit with me the rest of the year. There’s no point in me focusing on the negative anymore. I spent too many holiday seasons (and years) doing that and lost a lot of time and opportunities. I’ve only got one life to live. If something or someone wonderful and unexpected drops into my life, I’m going to throw my fear aside and jump.

Happy Holidays!

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2 comments for “Evolution of My Holiday Spirit

  1. Cranky
    November 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    This is terrific, Erin. I love the perspectives from the different phases of your life (and I’m sure your holidays would have required tequila too). Also loved the pictures of baby Erin and the little white fluff balls.

  2. Joan Haskins
    November 22, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Erin, this is really wonderful. Poignant and sweet and introspective… my favorite kind of things to read.

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