Happy Holidays, to all you folk out there, whatever you may celebrate. I hope your festivities are delightful. As for me, well, I grew up celebrating Christmas, so that’s what this post will address. And though I send you all heartfelt well-wishes, the ultimate purpose of this blog is for my own self-improvement, and as such this post will deal mainly with introspection.
This will be the first Christmas I spend alone. Whenever I tell this to people, they immediately leap to sympathy, and I wonder if I should be upset about that. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t bother me, and it is true that I envy my friends who are returning to their homes for winter break, but at the same time I’m not necessarily upset about it. Perhaps, to me, it just feels like the next stage of becoming my own person.
I think, if anything, I need an opportunity to spend the holidays on my own. That way, without other people’s influence, I can take the time to think on what each holiday means to me, personally. I don’t know what Christmas and the winter holiday season means to me. I have never felt a strong connection to nativity, have outgrown the magic of Santa Claus, and in my family Christmas was never really about the family. The presents were nice, I suppose, but I can’t remember the last time I felt genuine excitement at receiving a gift under a tree.
So, what does Christmas mean to me?
Frankly, I don’t know. I wrote the above paragraphs a week in advance, and it was the mindset I had hoped to approach this holiday with. However, given my recent emotional agitation and my mild hurt over a rejected, rare overture of friendship, maybe this year isn’t the best one to find out. At the same time, next year, I will likely be more stressed with post-college matters to consider and studies to complete, so this is likely the year I’ll have to figure it out. So, I suppose, I’ll have to try.
Yesterday, I received a Merry Christmas. All I could think to reply was that it was still too early for it. In my mind, Christmas was still a week away. Clearly, it’s not. It’s Christmas Eve today. Maybe it’s a sign of my mental state. This year, either Christmas is something I don’t look forward to, or Christmas is a day I actively hope wouldn’t arrive. Whichever it is, the question stands, why?
I think the answer can be found in a grievance I have every year in those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas: Secret Santas.
Every year, I dread when someone around me brings up a Secret Santa, because the majority of the group always supports the proposal. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand the thought of receiving a present because I was assigned to someone, receiving a gift out of duty or commitment. I despise being handed a name of someone I hold no strong feelings for and having to purchase a present out of duty and commitment. It feels disingenuous, I feel two-faced, and at the event, I feel as though I could rip off everyone’s smiles like stickers.
Above all, I value sincerity. Almost every relationship choice I make is based on my desire for sincerity, and most of my insecurities are also based on my need for sincerity. I suppose that what I want most out of Christmas is just to spend time, sincerely, with people who enjoy my company, sincerely.
In light of that, it makes sense that I’m struggling right now. This past week, I have been fighting with a mind that attempts to convince me that my feelings for my friends are insincere and that their feelings for me are, likewise, false. That, even more than the fact that I will be physically alone today and tomorrow, is taking a psychological toll on me. My self-imposed emotional isolation is what is making me miserable, and yet I refuse to ruin my friends’ holiday seasons by forcing my negativity onto them.
So, thinking now, what does this mean? What is the best course of action to take? My answer isn’t logical, but it feels right to me at this moment in time. It’s rather late, but I suppose I have a letter to write for dear St. Nick. As foolish as it might make me feel in the end, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to let myself be honest in this fashion.
To the Esteemed St. Nicholas:
Hello. It has been several years since my last letter to you, hasn’t it? I hope this letter finds you well, though I admit, it is very late in the season. I will not be so rude as to demand a material present for myself or others on such short notice, but I do have a number of wishes for the winter season. Grant them at your discretion, but I beseech you to read this letter and, at the very least, consider whether these desires are worth your time.
Next Christmas, I ask for a meal. It doesn’t have to be extravagant – it just has to be genuine. Even a cup of oatmeal that someone poured water into because they thought of me, specifically. Even a bowl of cereal with strawberries sliced in. Grant me a meal that I do not have to purchase for myself, a meal not cooked for me because it was someone’s obligation to, a meal that was not made because I am their daughter’s guest. Grant me a meal that someone made because they know me and wanted to cook for me, regardless of their skill level. Grant me a meal that someone made for me, specifically, because they wanted to.
Next Christmas, I ask for a story to tell. Grant me an experience I can think of fondly as the years pass, an experience I can call upon on dreary days. Grant me an experience children would envy and long for. Grant me an experience I will remember, something that will warm my heart and thrill me to the end of my days. Grant me something new, something exciting, and something meant to be. Grant me an experience I can savor, something that will allow me to grow and thrive as a creative writer. Grant me an experience that will jolt me awake when I think on it, something that I can latch onto when I hope to drift away.
Next Christmas, I ask for security of all kinds, financial, physical, and emotional. I ask that, at least for the holidays, I can spend time without anxiety looming over me about my bank account or my future. If those aren’t possible, I ask that you help me find security in what few relationships I value. Next Christmas, please allow me to enjoy the revelry with my friends instead of fearing that my friendships make me weak. Please allow me to trust that my sentiments for my friends are sincere and not manipulative as my own mind hopes to convince me. Grant me the opportunity to accept “Merry Christmas” as a genuine sentiment and not just a hallmark standard. Grant me the chance to be happy that my friends are happy on Christmas Day.
Next Christmas, I ask that I look forward to the day. Grant to me again an ounce of childhood’s magic so that I can awaken on Christmas Day before the sun rises with a twinkle in my heart. I ask that snow will excite me and not leave me worried about the weather, calculating the cost of car fare. Grant me the emotional strength to let down my guard and let myself be vulnerable. Grant me the ability to feel the holiday in the air against my skin.
Perhaps I ask for too much.
I did not put up a tree this year, and I am unlikely to next year either. I can’t afford Christmas lights or decorations. I lack the resources to bake cookies. I have no roof or chimney. I have no time for Christmas movies. All things considered, people who look upon me would not think that I hold you or Christmas in high esteem.
St. Nicholas, I hold you in the highest of esteem, and if there is any lost connection between us, that fault lies on my part. At a mere twenty years old, I’ve allowed myself to grow jaded. Any relationship takes work, and whatever thin connection drew me to you in childhood has frayed due to my neglect. I write this letter now in hopes that I can rectify this.
You need not grant my wishes above, but please recognize that I long for them. That is all I ask, and now that I have said as much, I do believe I can say with honesty:
So through this exercise, I have identified what I want out of my Christmas next year. However, even as I ask for them, I know that it is on my own actions and power to make such things possible. Ultimately, the question I need to ask myself is, what measures must I take to make this a reality?
I think it all boils down to the months between now and then. My New Years’s Resolutions will go up next week in more detail, but it seems that the word of the year will be honesty. Although the virtue goes hand in hand with sincerity, it is one I have always struggled with. Though I am open and pensive on this blog, I am never honest in reality about personal struggles or insecurities. My front of competence is too important to me, and I am too afraid that loved ones will have no need of me unless I can play that role. I never thought that such thoughts would culminate into this miserable mood at the end of the year.
Perhaps what I need to do is force myself to communicate my vulnerabilities, take the emotional risk for the eventual reward. Perhaps not. I’ll give it more thought in the next week.
To those of you still reading, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope that you find joy and meaning in your celebrations, and if not, I hope that you discover what you need to have a better event next year.