The holidays are half over. If this blizzard allows, we are heading to NJ tomorrow morning for Part 2 with Ellie’s family. Yesterday was Christmas with my family and between us. Now, there is a new trend amongst the Pagan communities to demean those us us that celebrate Christmas because we’re “feeding the beast” or “letting the Christians win” or some other bullshit. I may or may not discuss my feelings in more depth, but that will likely be on my Spiritual Blog if I do. Suffice it to say that I celebrate Christmas because I am the only non-Christian in my family and amongst those friends that I’m close enough to celebrate holidays with. I’m not going to deny their holiday (even if it IS secular in nature) just because it’s not my religion.
I hate the consumerism of Christmas, and how it’s influence has affected so many of the other mid-Winter holidays. That’s why I mainly ask for things I need or those things I REALLY want but won’t buy for myself–like a rice cooker–because it’s not really a necessity, but my family feels good getting it because they feel they are indulging me. Sitting here looking at what my family and Ellie got, I’m really pleased because most of the gifts this year fit that theme. My mom likes getting crap, like stuffed animals and stupid frivolous stuff like that, which influences her shopping, but having been out of work the first 6 months of the year really helped curb her need to buy shit and I can only think of one gift that I will be donating to Goodwill–a mug she packaged with some hot apple cider packets she gave us. That’s an AMAZING year for her
Christmas was small this year, but I prefer that–I’d much rather get items I need/can use/appreciate rather than a bunch of toys or knick-knacks that are just going to sit around and raise my anxiety because I’m surrounded by too much stuff. The only things that went overboard was candy–my mom likes to fill the stockings and even gift bags with the stuff, so we’re going to become diabetic by the time January is over.
I’m a little nervous about Ellie’s family celebration because there are so many of them and no one really knows how to say “no” to buying gifts, but I am hoping it’ll be lighter this year because no one has been immune to the financial struggles that have been affecting everyone.
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Kind of anyway. I really like buying gifts for people, but I always get a little panicked right about now because I’m not done and still have so much to buy. Luckily both of my parents are pretty much done, although I’d like to get my mom a couple of stocking stuffers (need to see what I do and don’t have already). My uncle is always a problem because he buys whatever he wants. Now I’m trying to decide between a turntable w/CD recorder since my dad and uncle have a ton of music they can’t listen to because they only have it on vinyl or a package from Omaha Steaks because they usually order out, so having some nice steaks on hand will be nice. I’m leaning towards the turntable, but those things are not cheap!
And all of this shopping and hosting parties triggers one of my biggest anxieties–money. I have worried about money since I was a little girl listening to my parents fighting about it, yet I have never exactly been great with it either; better than my parents, but not always by much. I honestly don’t know how much in savings I would need to no longer have anxiety about this, but I fear it would be a whole lot. And knowing that I am on an extremely fixed income and will soon be out of school, possibly without a job only exasperates things. I know that better man agement and planning will help alleviate the stress, but it’s a tough thing to do.
Every year I say I’m going to make more gifts, but I never get around to it because, by the time I realize I need to make them, it’s already too late to do more than maybe one gift. And I’m not always sure what would be a good gift that I’m able to actually make. Maybe this year as we visit the family and all, I will try to gather up some ideas and begin working on them early. I need to find better ways to keep down the anxiety that I feel around thing time every year.
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I mostly enjoy the Holiday season. I despise the consumerism that surrounds it, although I do love giving people gifts (I just wish I wasn’t so damn picky and indecisive when shopping). I also really hate the obsessive anger that many Christians display for the month and a half that encompasses the holiday season. I can’t count the number of people that have posted something to the effect of “Don’t forget the Reason for the Season” or “Let’s put the ‘Christ’ back in Christmas.” Or those that go one step further and bitch about a sales person wishing them a “Happy Holiday” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
As a non-Christian, it hurts. A lot. This is all being done by people who are intelligent, loving people that I consider friends and family, yet they have no regard for the fact that there are at least 4 other holidays in the month of December–of course a sales person isn’t going to wish you a “Merry Christmas”–they have no fucking clue which holiday you celebrate, or even if you DO celebrate one. When I was in retail and food service, we were told to not specify a holiday unless the customer did. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago (10 years maybe?) that the so-called “War of Christmas” didn’t actually exist, and people didn’t give a shit about the seasonal wishes you gave them. I wish my Christian family and friends a “Merry Christmas;” I wish most of them had the same respect to wish me a “Happy Holiday” unless they know the specific one I will be celebrating this year (and how many of you ever asked?)
And to those of you that ARE looking to “put Christ back into Christmas” (if you’re even still reading), read this article about the various celebrations held at this time BEFORE Christ was even born. Or think about all the traditions that are pagan in origin. And finally, before you remind me that this country was formed as a Christian nation, don’t forget that the Pilgrims and Puritans who came here for religious freedom didn’t celebrate Christmas because it was considered too pagan.
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The winter holidays are toughest on me because the semester is winding up, thus creating more work for me in classes and my job/internship/etc. Plus the fact that Ellie an I are travelling fairly consistently and involving ourselves in activities that require me to be uber-social and you have a rough combination.
Thanksgiving was good this year, although I’m not so sure if I’ll be able to pull off the whole “Traditional Turkey Feast” again if Ellie is working–she gets out of work too late to have a very good Thanksgiving meal with my family. The work and stress that goes into the feat isn’t actually worth it in some ways. I love Ellie and have made Thanksgiving th last 2 years because it’s such a loved holiday for the both of us, but my family and her job make it VERY difficult to have anything resembling low-key. We’ll see about next year; I almost have her convinced that a Turducken is the way to go.
Friday we went down to NJ and MD to visit her family. As much as I love all of them, when set up against my introversion, anxiety and the stress of traveling, they can be a little more than overwhelming. But it was a good time and we’re looking forward to Christmas/New Year’s since she’s taking the wee in between off so the travel doesn’t have to be totally crammed into a few days; we’ll have the luxury of leisure for the trip, with the only commitment being a party in Northern NJ on New Year’s Eve. I can’t really complain, although I know I’ll be just as tired after the holidays as I am now. Luckily, I’ll have the benefit of only having internships to worry about for another week after we return
After the New Year, it’s Wedding Planning time!!