All the dead Christmas tree bodies lying on the side of the road make me giddy. It’s a perverse antisocial vestige of my decade-long holiday loathing stage. I get the same euphoric rush when I cross the finish line in a marathon. Each Christmas tree slumped next to a trash can feels like a little victory. That used up evergreen screams, “It’s done, I made it!”
I’m a believer that when Christmas is over, it’s over. I want everything pulled down, put away and dragged to the curb. By December 28th I get panicky and claustrophobic about all things Christmas in the same way I feel while ripping off layers of clothing during a hot flash.
This obsession is not a result of tortured childhood Christmases. My memories of the season as a kid are favorable. We decorated the tree on my Dad’s birthday and the day itself was elegant and civilized. A covert interior decorator, my mom had Christmas down. The beauty she created for us was nurturing and serene.
In contrast, my family’s holiday season is three months long beginning in early October with an event gauntlet that includes six birthdays, one major school carnival, Halloween, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I wish I could say that it was my deep-rooted anti-consumerism or religious beliefs that fueled my Bah Humbug-ness. In reality it was garden-variety parenting, over-extending myself in all directions and The Magical Being issue. The three forces flowed together to start a slow drip water torture that brought on my Christmas madness.
The road back to sanity began three years ago. I started grooming my family for a major holiday renovation that was to be built on embracing volunteering and experiences over stuff. When I first took on the project I was a little heavy-handed with the message and I sounded more grouchy than empowering. I had not completely processed my guilt for messing with Christmas, so my kids heard more crazy-mom rant than the join-my-holiday-utopia invitation. The true turning point came two years ago when we ditched all presents and spent Christmas in Death Valley National Park with dear friends hiking in the most exquiste landscapes. Everyone got it – experiences and friendship trumps stuff any day!
Matthew and I agree that this past year was our most even-keeled holiday season. Around mid-September my eye-tic began to flair but I sloughed it off. I blew through a couple of birthdays and an Octoberama with a genuine smile on my face, a few more birthdays and Thanksgiving – smooth sailing. We had a family Christmas discussion early on with the kids and we decided to go present-less. There would still be a tree and ornaments, cookies, volunteering, lots of gatherings and we would spend Christmas Day at Enchanted Rock. I had my doubts, but for the first time our Christmas plans unfolded without a hitch. It only took 22 years.
End Note: For the full blown account of my history as a Magical Being visit my prior post, The Magical Being Business