December 7, 2016

Christmas without the Frostbite

And that's what I think about Christmas.

Over the summer I visited Santa's Village. Popular belief tis that during this time Santa hangs out in the North Pole but he's actually got a sweet holiday pad in Ontario, Canada. There are boat rides, musical concerts, and bubble machines. Santa still sported the jolly but I must say his travel companions were letting down some seriously unseasonable attitude. I imagine the year-round fame gets to them–as with Justin Bieber. 

But it's mighty weird to be immersed in this holiday outside of the usual snow. Without frostbite creeping up my earlobes,  the gratitude I usually have being surrounded by family, eating delicious food, playing charades next to a warm fire, and giving and receiving presents is not so acute. Perhaps it's because I'm not a religious person. I use the holidays as an opportunity to stop and pay overdue recognition to all the wonderful things I have in my life.  And there's no better reminder than the cold wind blowing outside. 

As for tradition, every year my mother would get the name of a family, from a local charity, and buy an full-on Christmas meal for them. We would go to the grocery store and fill the cart with pies, turkey, vegetables, stuffing and cranberry sauce–enough food to feed a family of 8 for two days–and then drive to their home in the evening where she'd deliver it while I sat in the car. There was never any socializing. I never met these families and what we did was never denoted as charity.  My mother had an extremely poor childhood and with it came a sensitivity to the whole holiday build-up. From this I've learned that fundamental to happiness is having something in one's life to feel grateful for. Not because one deserves less or doesn't deserve more but because in the crappiest of times gratitude forces one to acknowledge that the universe hasn't forgotten them. Sometimes that's enough.

So if you're not feeling the holiday spirit (and there are many good reasons why) my solution is to find someone worse off, someone you wouldn't want to be (that's never hard to find) and donate your sorry-ass to them. It might change your mood, it might change theirs. At the very least, after a few hours you'll get to walk away thinking thank goodness that's over. 

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