December is officially half over. And how am I doing, you ask?
I joked with Mark back in November that I could give myself gold stars for all the days in December when I didn't cry. Luckily I didn't follow through on this, because I would have fewer gold stars than I would like. Between holiday stress, too-litle sleep, and my continuing efforts to deal with past emotional damage, there have been more tears this month than intended.
Operation: Drinking through December, on the other hand, is going much better. I should probably have decided to give myself gold stars for that instead. I would have way more stars. Hindsight, right?
I actually have accomplished a decent amount, though not nearly as much as intended. I successfully acquired/finished birthday present for both of my parents, who have the nerve to both have birthdays in December. I crossed Missouri two times in as many days this past weekend for a Fish Eye Fun job in Kansas City. (On that same trip, I spent my very first night ever alone in a hotel.) I only have four books left to read to hit my goal of 50 books, and I'm halfway through both a book and an audiobook. I managed to get my new passport in time to go to Mexico at the beginning of January. I've attended a few family events and even socialized with several friends, including making it to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
On the other hand, I still have several presents to acquire/finish in about a week. There's one more big weekend of holiday parties to get through, and then the night of 7 New Year's Eve parties. I haven't done nearly the writing I should have for my Project: Sketchbook. And I have four books to finish reading in 15 days (notice how that one made the good and bad list?).
I think I need another drink.
I'm not sure if it's just the hectic pace of the past few months, but I'm having a harder time getting into the "holiday spirit." I know I talked a lot previously about how I'm traditionally more of a Scrooge, but I do generally get a bit more into the Christmas spirit midway through December. To be fair, I suppose it's not that I'm dreading Christmas itself. I'm dreading everything that needs to be done. I don't have the hours. I don't have the budget. I don't have the expedited shipping option. Like the Grinch, I want to keep Christmas from coming. But at least only until I can find a few more gifts.
I know that Christmas isn't about the gifts. I know this, even though one of my stronger love languages is gifts and I love finding or making the perfect present for someone. I know my parents don't even want me to spend money on them. I know my boyfriend doesn't want me to buy him too much. I know that I don't want him to buy me too much. I know my friends will still love me if I don't get their presents done by the 25th (sorry, guys).
So yes. I know Christmas isn't about the gifts.
I know Christmas isn't about the gifts.
So what is it about?
Is it about winning decorating contests, or getting plastered at company holiday parties, or looking at Christmas lights? Is it about ugly sweaters? Holiday cards? Elves on shelves? Whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie? (It is, by the way.) Endless renditions of "Santa Baby"? Whether or not Love, Actually is a terrible movie? (Debatable, but I love it anyway.)
It's a hard question.
For someone who's struggled with her faith and with Christians in general the past two years, I can't say that Christmas is strictly about religious faith for me right now. Not that it ever was, really. I'm a girl whose parents let her believe in Santa Claus for an embarrassingly long time, so obviously Christmas was never explicitly religious in my family. I will go to church at some point with my parents, and I do still love hymns and still have the Christmas story in John memorized. I've been a Lutheran for a long time and there is still a special meaning in Christmas that is spiritual for me, about keeping all these things and pondering them in my heart.
But I think these days that The Muppets best sum up my feelings about Christmas spirit. "Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas." Maybe that's a bit touchy-feely, everyone hold hands-y, but it covers a lot of bases for a lot of people: Christian, Jewish, agnostic, and otherwise. And, at the very least, it takes away from the commercialization of Christmas.
So, for me, Christmas is about spending time with the people I love. It's about making them happy and being grateful for a truly wonderful 2015 and for all the family, friends, and blessings I have in life. It's about feeling love, be it romantic, platonic, spiritual, or otherwise. It's about traditions. It's about cookies and pies and hams. Or it's about latkes and Chinese food and a Die Hard marathon. It's about figuring out how to do two Christmases in one day because there are that many people that want you around for the holidays. It's about having a Charlie Brown Christmas tree on your console. Or it's about having a Christmas tree in every room. It's about whatever you want it to be.
The Grinch figured it out. I guess I can too.