Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blah Humbug

I really do love everything about Christmas -- the twinkling lights, pine boughs, freshly baked treats -- the whole Advent season is usually a joyful time for me.

Not this year, though, and I don't know why. I'm not feeling the usual post-Christmas letdown; this year I never felt the Christmas spirit at all.

I did all the right things: I sent Christmas cards (partially homemade), I baked pumpkin bread, I put up the tree and reminisced about all the ornaments, I bought all the gifts (including the gifts from one of the grandmothers, who wasn't able to shop this year), I wrapped all the gifts, I hand-stamped the annual calendars, I did the nightly nativity reading with the kids. So why is it so blah humbug?

Part of the problem is logistical -- I put the Christmas tree upstairs this year and haven't spent one evening up there enjoying the lights. The gameroom is a bloody disaster because the attic ladder is still broken and we have an over-abundance of Christmas tubs and junk cluttering up the room. And I don't deal well with clutter so I'm just avoiding the upstairs altogether.

Part of it was familial. The kids didn't get out of school until December 21, so life was going at breakneck speed until then with school functions and parties. Then we had to pack up the van and truck over to Houston since Kevin's mom can't travel post-surgery. We've never shared Christmas Eve and Day with them before. It was nice, but not what I wanted. I wanted our old traditions and our own quiet family, but instead I got thrust into a huge celebration of people I haven't seen since our wedding 12 years ago. The introvert in me wanted to run and hide, but I put on my game face and did the best I could.

Part of it was just the fact that I'm the grownup now. I really miss the magic of Christmas, where my parents surprised us with unexpected gifts and where the traditional foods just appeared on the holiday table. Now that I'm the mommy, I have to do all the planning and shopping and cooking and, well, all of it. I think I'm mourning the fact that I'm in charge and if I don't do it, it doesn't get done. (Hint to husband -- I'd like a surprise under the tree next year.)

Of course I know that the season has been over-commercialized and over-Americanized and overblown entirely, but I'm still a sucker for all things traditional and familiar so I like the festivities and gifts. And I'm not taking down the tree until I have some Christmas joy.


Craig said...

Chels, sorry I missed you when you came through town. I had no idea you were in Struggleville this Christmas - would have loved to have welcomed you.

Chelsea said...

Struggleville's a place we melancholies know well, isn't it? I forgot to mention that I need to stop reading the newspaper, too. It's impossible to feel Christmas spirit when you read about all the tragedies around town (and the world). I liked it better when I scored low on the mercy scale.
Hope you survived the obligatory gift exchange. Sorry you disliked "Ishbane" so much, too. I think I recommended it for high schoolers, right? Definitely the targeted audience, not philosophical seminary students/teachers. I still like Alcorn, though.

Craig said...

Sounds like you've grown out of your melancholy into mercy; me, I've probably grown some the other way - not good.

The gift exchanges were tolerable. Rejoice.

We'll see how Ishbane plays with my high schoolers (they'll read it this semester). Just having a hard time figuring out how to teach it without all of us melting into one giant blob of melodrama.

Happy New Year.

Stephanie said...

You said it so well, Chels. I felt alot of this this year, myself. I'm trying to journal a few notes to myself about what went well, what didn't, and what I'd really like to see happen next year, so that I can try to be a little more proactive.

But regardless of what we do, I think there's a little sadness that comes with the growing realization that we're on the grown-up side. It's hard work. It shouldn't be as hard as we sometimes make it, but such is life.