For me it all begins around Halloween, the holiday season I mean. Decorations, food, shopping, friends, cocktails, gifting, wrapping, pumpkin carving, turkey, stuffing, music, traditions, family, pomp and circumstance, desserts, I enjoy it all.
When December 26 comes around I sometimes look introspectively and wonder am I getting everything out of the season that I should? I do not feel incomplete during this time of year and I am not religious, not particularly spiritual but when you consider the origins of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa is there a piece of the puzzle that I am missing?
I took an informal poll of friends and family on the question of "Do you enjoy the holiday season?". Young folks in their early to mid twenties seemed a bit disconnected from the season and their reason why varied. Parents did not celebrate at home with as much gusto in recent years perhaps because their children were no longer home. My son who lives and works in New York City said the holidays are too hard to enjoy with all the over crowding, harsh weather and general hustle and bustle. If you want to go to an event the ordeal to get there in one dry, warm, happy, piece was more than the pleasure of the event. His girlfriend had similar responses.
Sometimes the expectation that "I must be happy because it is the holidays" might be the heaviest load to carry. Shopping for the right gift, limited funds, managing work with parties, invitations you have to decline because of work commitments, family over expectations, putting on a happy face at all times, I completely understand these feelings. I have had them myself and I am certain you have too.
But I still like this season and already look forward to next year. When I now look back on 2012 I remember that every day when I drive down my street I look at my neighbors' house decorations, strangers greet you with an appropriate holiday phrase, food is fun and festive, meeting friends you have not seen in a while all in the name of the holidays, lights, music, holiday performances, people are friendlier, gift giving to simply thank those people who have meant so much to you during the year, putting that smile on your face, being a better human being is what I saw. I acknowledge the traditions of the aforementioned holidays and regardless of their origin, they involve similar customs with family and friends.
I do not feel I am missing out just because I did not attend midnight mass, or feel the breath of a given Deity. Being alive, healthy, enjoying my friends, family and co-workers with greater fervor fills my heart and mind and I love the holiday season!
There is however one tiny exception, My British-born husbands' interest in eating English fruitcake every year. He is on his own on this one and Mincemeat Pies <<blaaach>>