So it’s getting into Major Holiday time here in the US, and I’m seeing more and more talk about things like “holiday spirit” and “joyful holiday season” and I think I want to write about that stuff.
Mostly in terms of how I just don’t seem to get it – by which I mean, I honestly don’t understand; this is not in any way intended to denigrate people who are different from me. I don’t know what a holiday spirit is. I don’t know what it means or what it consists of. What I really don’t get it why there seems to be pressure at this time of year to have those things. To feel the “correct” way, to have the right sort of attitude or “spirit” or whatever it is we are supposed to have.
So this topic came to mind because some friends of mine have been talking about really struggling this year with their “holiday spirit” and such, and are feeling sad because they are not managed to do this thing that, apparently, they feel they are supposed to do. And when I write this, I really hope that I do not come across as belittling of that. I care about my friends, and while I struggle to wrap my mind around the concepts, I do understand that this is clearly something they care about so I feel sad for them in sympathy.
This is probably going to be a thoroughly incoherent post, which I do apologize for. I have so many thoughts on the subject (which may, someday, turn into their own individual posts) and I’m not sure how well I will pull them together.
For instance, the idea of there being a thing we are “supposed” to feel. I have spent my whole life having people tell me what I am supposed to be feeling, and being confused or worse because I felt something else. I was supposed to be excited about driving in my teen years, but I only ever felt stress and anxiety. I was supposed to find group interactions easier than one-on-one interactions, but for me it is the other way around. I was supposed to like short-notice plans to socialize, but they cause me stress and unhappiness. Nevermind the times when I feel happy or easy when other people feel stress or unease. It seems my life is full of not feeling what I am supposed to feel. This means I have both become really sensitive to people telling me what I “should” feel or like or want, while simultaneously being fairly comfortable in just being me, provided people accept that.
The other day I asked Nee if he has “holiday spirit” and what it does, or does not, mean to him. The conversation mostly went in very small circles, because we are equally baffled by the concept. Again, to be clear, not baffled in a “this is bad” way, but more in a “this does not seem to apply to us” way. Nor do either of us feel like we are missing out on anything else.
But as we continued thinking, we started to think that maybe “holiday spirit” is not just some monolith of feeling that only has one way to be. Nee asked me if there’s anything I get excited about this time of year, and there is. Specifically, the yule ritual my grove does (particularly this year, as I ran it), and the exchanging of gifts. I like seeing people happy over gifts I chose or bought or made, and not gonna lie, I like getting gifts too. So maybe in a way, that is my holiday spirit.
However, I don’t really think of it in those terms, nor do I pay much attention to whether or not I’m having “holiday spirit” at any given time. In a way, I think that might be beneficial to me.
Mostly because December has always been an incredibly rough time of year for me. Many things converge to make the end of the year particularly stressful and difficult, and while the meds are making it so much better than it used to be, I still feel stressed and pressured and wake up to the sound of my teeth grinding at night. There is the pressure to give everyone gifts, to find the RIGHT gifts (yes, I listed gift giving as a thing I like, but it is also a thing of stress that I try to get done in November), the lack of sun, the sudden press of scheduling ALL THE THINGS in a short period of time, the sudden increase in socializing (another mixed bag. I see people I like to see, but there is so much of it that it gets overwhelming), etc etc etc. If I spent any time at all worrying about what I “should” be feeling, it would just make everything worse. All the stresses would become affronts to this “holiday spirit” I am supposed to have, which would probably add a layer of resentment to the whole thing, which would just make me even more stressed, and that’s just not a good path for me to go down. I can only hope that for other people, it does not work like that.
Though to add in, does “holiday spirit” absolutely have to be upbeat and happy? For better or worse, the stress and anxiety that hits at the end of the year is very much a part of the holiday season for me, and maybe that’s just another aspect whatever version of a “holiday spirit” I possess. Of course, that just makes “holiday spirit” the same thing as “feelings I associate with winter holidays” but really, does it have to be any more than that? Maybe I can acknowledge and honor all the feelings I tend to get this time of year, regardless of how pleasant they are at any given moment.
On a side note, the morning after our conversation about holiday spirit, Nee actually found his. Apparently to him, magnets and camera flashes are associated with the solstice, and he often finds himself happily looking at fun magnet and light toys this time of year. That is, apparently, his version of a holiday spirit.
Do you have a “holiday spirit”? If you do, what does it mean to you? If not, is it something you think about? I’m curious