This Christmas Eve I have my family around me, I have a boyfriend to spend time with, I have my health and a warm, cozy home to take comfort in from the cold season outside. But I still feel sad and depressed today. Why? Am I just hopeless? Is there something wrong with me?
Earlier in the season, at least a month before Christmas, I decided to try to get everyone on the same page. As we were all gathered in the living room, I clarified with my family and boyfriend what everyone felt okay with for Christmas. That it wouldn’t be Christmas without opening SOMETHING in the morning, so we could just all get each other something small to open, each person buying only two gifts, everyone receiving two.
A couple weeks later my mom tells me she bought me a few gifts. My boyfriend starts saying he can’t let Christmas go by without giving me a bunch of gifts.
The last several Christmases have been sapped of much of their merriment and joy because of the stress and anxiety that has built up around the holiday. I wanted to avoid that this year. I don’t care about getting anything. When people ask me what I want, I HONESTLY AND SERIOUSLY have no answer. Most things I honestly want/need in life aren’t things anyone else can give me (I need to find a car to buy, for instance) or aren’t things that I really would want for Christmas morning anyway (a gift card to go shopping because I really could use some new clothes – but I hate shopping, and gift cards aren’t good for opening).
I just feel like I’m a black sheep. I don’t care about getting stuff for Christmas. I said way at the start of Fall that this holiday season I just wanted to focus on making time to do fun stuff together. Sledding. Ice skating. Enjoying the community activities going on around here in the season. Everyone made it sound like they were on board, but nobody has followed through. And it’s aggravating for me because I don’t have a car so I’m severely limited in what I can do. I managed to get some stuff for my family members, and I had a home-made gift for my boyfriend planned but it got foiled. I can’t finish it because the materials I had got thrown away, I suspect, but officially they are “lost”. I don’t have the money to throw down to recuperate the loss to finish the project sufficiently by Christmas. So I have no gift to give to him. I tried to find something, and I have an idea, but without a car I’m stuck on Christmas Eve without any way to get to the store to get him the gift. I got something for my mom. For my sister. For my other sister and her husband in another state as well as my niece.
I just feel like crying. I feel so aggravated. I don’t even celebrate Christmas. I’m not Christian. I’m Pagan. I celebrate Yuletide. I have since I was 15. That’s almost a decade now. It’s not an imaginary holiday. It’s not something I made up. It’s not something I pretend to be. It’s not for play. It’s a serious, honest-to-goodness special holiday to me.
Christmas is one of the most special holidays to Christians around the world. Yule is similarly special to me. As a Pagan, I realize I am part of a minority. I don’t expect everyone to conform or make big concessions to me. I just expect there to be more understanding of me and my practices during this time of year by the people close to me. More inclusion. The people around me aren’t even Christians either. They celebrate the holiday from a secular point. Fine. But I celebrate it in a more personal way… and I wish I got a little more understanding about that. I have tried to get people to do all their usual Christmas stuff on the day of Yule instead. They say it’s a good idea – nothing happens. My mother is 50 and doesn’t feel like doing this shit anymore. I understand that. My younger sister doesn’t really care about the holidays either way, it seems. That’s annoying, but fine. They probably expect that if I’m the one who takes it so personally, I should create the holiday on my own and they’ll partake. But that’s not how things should work, I think. And even if I was willing to take it all upon my shoulders, I don’t have the resources right now. If they want to give gifts, I don’t have the money to buy gifts and buy the food for a big feast. I don’t have a car to go buy gifts and food. I need help.
I dream that one day I will have a home of my own, where I will hang lights and burn seaonal candles. Where there will be a Yule tree decorated with stags, holly, lights, seasonal colored bows, candles, pine cones, birdies, snowmen… Where we will hang stockings and put little fun things inside. Where we will give handmade, creative, and personal gifts. Where there will be no pressure. If there be no wassailing, there will be holiday songs playing on the record player. We will burn a Yule log late into the night. Enjoy a feast and movies and games. And remember that we are alive and part of nature and its cycles. No more permanent than the stuff people are buying at the stores for the season. Where we will be warm and care for each other and spend this time to remind ourselves how important community and giving and growth is. Yule, to me, is a time of hope. A time of remembering our strength and ability to endure, together. A time to be thankful to the earth that us and our families are able to endure the winter.
And then of course perhaps I’m being silly and putting to much importance on this all, in the end. But when those around me that I care about are putting importance on it, it’s hard to ignore my own feelings about the matter and go along with everyone else… especially if they’re expecting me to create some of the holiday “cheer”. Well, the fact is my holiday cheer is unique to my holiday, in some ways. And if I’m expected to take part in their holiday, I’m naturally inclined to want to regonize mine as well, and I want there to be some conscensus reached about how to integrate the two. But there is none. It’s aggravating.
I’m done. I’m going to go try to find a way to enjoy the day. It’s not Yule, but Christmas is like Yule, and I can shift my celebration and sentiments to this date, like old Pagans did.