I woke up on Christmas morning, excited.
The streets were empty, everyone ensconced in their houses or apartments. I took off out of the city, way into the suburbs, where I had a hotel room waiting for me.
Was I visiting family? Hanging out with friends?
No, I was off to work on my personal annual review.
Celebrate, or else
I’ve always had a rocky relationship with holidays. This is mainly because, well, who is anyone to tell me when and how I should celebrate things? But on the other hand, I’m a bit of a sap myself, and I can get swept up in the sentimentalism sometimes.
But mostly, the holidays make me recalcitrant. Because of this, I’ve learned that the best way to make it through the year without going crazy is to celebrate holidays the way I want to. And if I choose not to celebrate them at all, then that’s okay.
For example, I generally don’t celebrate any of the winter holidays. Now, it’s easy to denigrate Christmas, of course, with its over-commercialism and earworm music. Personally, I love giving gifts, but I’m not good at giving gifts on cue. So when I come up with a great gift idea, I give it. It just might be in April.
You can do all this too.
Because I said so
I don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to do something “just because.” Actually, that might be a primary theme of this entire site.
So why do we celebrate holidays when they cause so much discomfort?
Oddly, I think there is a strong feeling of pressure to do things because of others. “I just have to show up for Christmas dinner, otherwise I would never hear the end of it.” It apparently never occurs to anyone that getting on a plane to travel to the snowy voids of, say, rural Massachusetts may not be the most sensible or pleasure-inducing activity. Or that there may be another way of accomplishing the same thing.
The irony being that the same people who pressure may not enjoy these things any more than you do.
And it’s not just the winter gift-giving holidays, either. Valentine’s Day is another one that seems to make everyone miserable and stressed, singles and couples alike. Once again, I always come back to the sage line from War Games: The only winning move is not to play.
Ritual de lo Habitual
I want to recognize the importance of ritual. Ritual is important, in that it connects us to people around us and to our past. But at the same time I need to recognize that we have ownership over our rituals; they don’t have ownership over us.
You can choose to do things differently. It may take some courage to do so, and you might encounter people who push back at you. But if it’s important to you, then it shouldn’t matter so much about others. And beside, those who question your “unconventional” holidays may themselves wish that they were doing the same.
With all this is mind, while so many people were doing what they felt like they needed to be doing on Christmas, I was doing what I wanted to be doing: a nice quiet hotel room, a desk, some paper, and a chance to look both back and forward. It was quite a Merry time.
Happy New Year everyone.
But enough about me. Do you ever repurpose your holidays?
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