Get Merry, Y'all - Or At Least Try?
edited: Thursday, December 14, 2006
By Andrea L Conley
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Become a Fan
Sometimes Christmas can be difficult for those of us who are 'in the meantime'...
Why do so many people get the blues at Christmas time? After all, isn’t this a holiday built on the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t we all be ecstatic over the true story of love, family, hope and miracles? Once upon a time, those things were the essence of Christmas. And as Stevie Wonder recalled in his hit song, I Wish - “…even though sometimes we wouldn’t get a thing, we were happy with the joy the day would bring…” Our ancestors were happy just to get a nice meal that day, and know their loved ones were safe and sound.
Personally, I had some pretty magical Christmases growing up. My mom and dad worked hard all year. My granny lived with us and she saved money from her social security and ‘widow’s pension’ checks all year (in a sock under her feather mattress – I swear) so she could help spoil my sisters and I. Pretty much, every Christmas morning we awoke to find some serious bling under that silver aluminum tree with the revolving color wheel light stand.
Anyway, as a little girl I was always beyond thrilled with the parade of babies in cribs, bicycles, Barbies in bell-bottoms, candlemaking kits and Suzy Homemaker ovens. But at some point, puberty rears its ugly head. At the tender age of 10, I was informed by neighbor Peggy (who was 8 going 17) that there was no Santa. Santa was dead – he froze to death at the North Pole. Mama and Daddy (and granny) were Santa. There.
To say that my mom was pissed would be a huge understatement. “Fast assed heffa! She knows too much!! Anytime somebody 8 years old know where babies come from and why the neighbors got divorced, her mama need a whupping!” mom seethed.
Needless to say, that took a bit of the magic out of it for me. And the older I got, the less ‘bling’ I got. Instead there were ‘practical’ gifts like socks and panties. As a pre-teen I did get a groovy pair of those tall, lace-up granny boots, and a really fly-looking (as in Superfly in a girly sort of way) overcoat. But that wonder and breathless anticipation and giddiness – gone!
As I grew into my teens I noticed that Christmas was no longer a shining event for me. I still had a loving family and my granny still baked dozens of top-notch pineapple upside-down cakes and sweet potato pies. But it just wasn’t the same.
It took me at least 20 – 25 years to figure out why. Maybe you’ve noticed this: for many people who have little or no concept of why we really have Christmas in the first place, the day (and roughly the preceding 60 – 90 days) is about how much stuff you can sell to sadly misguided people who believe that if they go into debt, if they buy and/or receive lots of bling, they will recapture that inner glow and unbridled joy they felt as a child, or something akin to it, at least. Their loved ones will love them more, or love them right – if they’re impressed with what is under the tree.
Notice all the TV commercials where suddenly, at Christmas, everyone is happily coupled and exchanging diamonds and Range Rovers and cashmere? If you happen to be single you wonder why you, too, can’t have a breathtakingly sexy significant other showering you with $45,000 vehicles and the like.
You see, the reason why many of us battle the blues at Christmas is because we are being fed a heaping dose of unrealistic expectations by desperately greedy marketing folk. If you’ve been single all year, you’re not likely going to meet the love of your life just in time to buy him or her a ranch mink coat. It is not impossible, just improbable. But marketing types sure would like to sell you one anyway. If your family is dysfunctional and estranged all year, there is not likely going to be this miraculous unity and birds tweeting, harp-music kind of lovefest just because December 25th is approaching. You just have to love them ‘as-is’, same as you love your pre-owned Toyota.
But that’s ok. The vast majority of people don’t live the way those people in TV commercials live. I am not always thrilled about being single. But I have learned (people like to tell me their business -although I often wish they wouldn’t, they seem to feel compelled to do so) there are a LOT of unhappily married people out there. And I know from experience (I got divorced in the ‘90s) there are plenty of things worse than being single during the holidays, one of which is being tied down to someone who doesn’t love you.
Some coping mechanisms that really work for me: I dwell on the fact that I have my precious freedom, and complete autonomy of my life. If I want to, I can hop on a jet and have Christmas in Cancun. I don’t have to go hang with my inlaws (well, actually they were outlaws – that’s another story, holla if you hear me?). I don’t have to accept sucky gifts and pretend I like them.
Also, I go out looking for ways to bless others. I’ll give what time I can to sit with an elderly nursing home patient and donate to a toy drive for needy children. I’ve done meals on wheels delivery and soup kitchen duty in years past and am looking forward to doing it again this year.
Although I’m usually not a big movie buff, I am geeked about seeing The Pursuit of Happyness and Dreamgirls. And I’m going to have a little cocktail get together with some other singles I know – no couples allowed!
Most importantly, I plan on spending time – both in church and at home, meditating on the One who began it all. I just pulled out my Christmas CDs; Mariah Carey singing Silent Night will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Take 6 and their jazzed out God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen always lets me visualize that holy night, that holy infant lying on a cold bed of straw.
While listening to Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas, I’ll laugh and cry as memories of Christmas in the ‘60s and ‘70s (my mom bought a pink tree one year) stream from the speakers with every note.
And I will gladly spend time with my family – dysfunction and all. The way I see it, one day I will be happily coupled. And although Brother may or may not bestow me with that pear-cut diamond or that Escalade, I’ll be obliged to hang with him and his kin. So I may as well take this time to practice stifling the urge to kick a certain relative and ask, through clenched teeth, “why the hell did you just say that?”