December is here again. It is hard to face December, because it is a time of being with family and friends and, at the same time, it is a time of deep introspection for me. A time when I pull back from the world and go into hiding. Hibernation if you will. It is hard to gather with people when all you want to do is disappear.
This year is no different. It's not December, though, it's me. December is simply a month on the calendar. It doesn't bring the baggage, I already own it. For many years, I have dreaded the coming of December, specifically the Christmas holiday. Yet, at the same time, I have cherished what the season brings.
It brings time with my Mr. Man and the Littles, that I would not otherwise have. It brings Winter in and the promise of the returning of the light. December means beautiful holiday light displays and some of the most peaceful and nostalgic music to listen to. December brings lovely family traditions, some from my childhood and some created by my Mr. Man and myself for our children.
As much as I try to focus on the good that ushers in with December, I find myself clinging to the darkness. To the pain that others deal with during this time of holiday cheer. To SAD that always sneaks in as well. To this feeling of being broken that follows me.
I get angry about all the gift giving. Not because I don't like giving. I like giving. I don't like the idea of giving "stuff" to people who have everything they could possibly need when there are people around me who have so little. I really want to take the money we spend on presents for family and friends and give it to those who don't have the option of buying presents for family and friends.
Don't get me wrong, we do give to those less fortunate during the holiday season, but in my eyes, we don't give enough. We can't possibly give enough. Why does there have to be so much value on buying this and that? Why does there have to be this made up dude who brings presents for all the good little boys and girls, but not if you're poor or homeless. Santa only caters to certain good little boys and girls.
The crazy thing is that I'm guilty of the Santa lie and this tradition of gift-giving. One of my biggest parenting regrets. I grew up loving Christmas because it meant I was going to get a ton of presents. I remember very little from my childhood, but I do remember that excitement and wonder. I want my kids to feel that excitement and wonder. I just wish that those feelings of excitement and wonder could come without the presents.
I know that I was just a kid, but I didn't care that all those presents put my parents in financial debt every year. My mom did her best, I'm sure, to make sure that we knew the real meaning behind Christmas. But in reality, I just wanted those gifts. I wanted to sit around the tree with all my siblings and be surrounded by a sea of wrapping paper and boxes. I'm pretty sure that if a Grinch had ever stolen my Christmas, there would have been no singing and roast beast eating. There would have been a lot of crying and wailing. Sad.
I feel like a failure as a parent every year at this time. I have always been one to do better when I knew better, but this whole "Christmas" thing gets me every year. I have empathy for the less fortunate, but will I give up the gift buying for them? Heck no. Will I give up the look of joy on my kids faces when they open that new "thing"? Heck no. We, as a family, don't volunteer our time for the needy. We take part in an Adopt a Family each year, but that is the extent of it. We don't expose our children to the reality of the less fortunate. We talk about it, but we don't expose them to it. Sad.
So will this December be no different than the years past? Will I spend it feeling more Scrooge-like than Who-like? Will I be resentful about the amount of money we spend and guilty that we don't do more for those less fortunate than us? Will I long for a peaceful, calm holiday season where we fill it with experiences with each other in place of gifts?
I don't know the answer to any of these questions today, but I do know that something has to change. My expectations, my perceptions or my actions have to change. Perhaps all of them? I guess I will have to see how this dearest dreadful December plays out. Will I continue to choose a December being stressed out and Scrooge-like? Or will I choose a December filled with peaceful content.
I feel the pull of both.