A different Christmas

Photo by Aleksandr Slobodianyk: https://www.pexels.com

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Surprise, surprise. The whole point of Christmas is to change things. To rescue ourselves.

Took me long enough, but the story finally shifted from gathering and clinging against all odds to letting go and allowing healthy distance, nuances in actions, emotions and thoughts. A shift from excessive niceness, obligation and people pleasing to claiming a voice, setting boundaries and breathing in some peace.

There have been many Christmases over the years with not a small measure of joy and fun, but overall, this is a time when I get cranky. Two main reasons? Death and divorce…which I will not dwell on here.

On top of that, and as I now see, most importantly, I can’t stand how no matter what, the whole holiday experience falls short of the ideals projected from every direction of what it’s all supposed to look like and feel like.

For as long as I remember, I felt so frustrated by all the absolute musts around this holiday. Be a good girl, forget all the nasty stuff people do, embrace everyone, say only nice things. Offer compliments and sentimental greetings, exaggerate and romanticize everything, listen to carols and bake cookies. Eat a roast. And winter foods. Accommodate. Apologize. Because that’s what a good girl/person does at Christmas.

But this is not just a Christmas problem. This is a life problem. This being expected to act “as” and “as if” so as to maintain the illusion of peace and wellness in every imaginable context. To bend the knee as they say. To feel guilty for having opinions, and guiltier for expressing them. To feel shame for being different and wanting/choosing something else.

I don’t know why it was this Christmas that I finally said enough. I suspect there comes a point in everyone’s life when we’re so sick and tired of trying to live up to things that don’t make any sense and aren’t real, that we just put our foot down and stop.

What this means is simple: I don’t have to…anything. All I have to do is just be me. Not selfish, but real. With boundaries. Ok with inconsistencies and imperfect choices. Owner of my voice and opinions. Of my standards. Of how I love, what I give, and to whom.

And this is not just for me, but for everyone.

We can just chill, be real, like what we like, say no, refuse guilt trips, and speak up. We can love and accept family and friends for who they are, without glossing over dysfunction, incompatibility and outright meanness at times. We don’t have to NOT speak to each other, and we also don’t have to all sit around the Christmas tree holding hands and singing carols. Kindness and appreciation don’t have to involve staying in or stirring a toxic soup – at home or at work.

As for speaking the truth and choosing for oneself, there’s no reason to cling on to people pleasing, patterns of fear from various traumatic experiences and whatever principles for living we think we chose. A sense of obligation to whatever or whoever. Guilt. We all have reasons.

While diplomacy is always a thing, living in a state of doormat-ness, to whatever degree, is poison. Everyone steps on a doormat. We ourselves are stepping on ourselves.

Not to mention that whatever we deny, or smother with expectations of perfection, ends up being a what if…and what ifs are worse than anything. Life’s too short for what ifs.

This kind of shift doesn’t happen overnight. Some of my ancestors I feel are rolling around in their graves in horror at my impertinence. The cool ones cheer. And my crazy, adorable, impossible mom is cheering as well. “About time you make your own rules” she says.


And the option to being trapped in a lifestyle of compromise for a perfection that doesn’t exist and ultimately ruins us is not selfishness. It’s authenticity. A healthy freedom.

And by godz it feels wonderful to start letting go. To look ahead and not see a frustrating pattern, but options!

It was a good Christmas.

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