Sunday, December 28, 2014

I have heard people complaining about being burned out by Christmas; others say they are ready for the season to be over, and some have already taken down their trees and decorations. With so much pre-season hype, it's no wonder that the "twelve days of Christmas" are almost a thing of the past; the months prior to the holiday are so strident with efforts to pump up anticipation, pressure to shop and blaring music that people just get tired of it before Christmas even arrives.

It occurred to me that there are several reasons why I don't get burned out on Christmas. First, we don't watch television. We have a TV set but only to watch DVDs. So we're not bombarded by commercials, Christmas movies, "specials" and so on. We check out movies from the library and own a few favorites that we watch each year but other than that, media doesn't impact our Novembers and Decembers.

Second, we don't do a lot of shopping. We tend to keep gifts small and I shop year-round so there's no stressed out last-minute craziness. We might be in the stories on Christmas Eve but it's mostly to enjoy the energy, excitement and the surprisingly happy mood of the last-minute shoppers in our town. This is a small town and if one stays away from the Wal-Mart, the mood is generally pretty mellow. We did venture into Wal-Mart one evening to pick up some paint supplies and both of us noticed how strained and unhappy people looked in that store. Was it the fact that the store is huge, and means long walks to get everything? Or that the floors make people's legs and feet hurt? (They sure make mine hurt, I can tell you.) Or was it the pressure of feeling like they needed to buy so many things, putting a strain on tired minds and stretched finances?

Third, we don't go to malls. I don't think I've actually shopped in a mall in 10 years. That means we avoid traffic snarls and grouchy people. The nearest shopping malls are an hour away, and not worth (to me, anyway) the hassle of the drive, paying for parking, and walking miles to look at "stuff." No thanks. I'll take small local shops any day.

I'm not a Grinch about the holiday. I love Christmas. I love the lights, the anticipation, the music, the cooking, the colors, and the decorations. I love the sense of awe of realizing anew every year the magic and mystery of the season. But I have learned to keep it in balance and to enjoy the specialness of this time of year, even to appreciating the dark days around the Solstice. I look forward to all the traditions and the memories. And I hate to see it all packed away, even though I know that I can look forward to doing it all over again in about 11 months.

Right now we're just beginning the Twelve Days. They won't end until Old Christmas/Three Kings Day/Epiphany, whichever you call it, on January 6th. I know my tree and decorations will be up until that day, just to extend the pleasure of the holidays a little bit longer. We'll be back to normal then and I hope we'll have enough memories to carry us through to the lighting of the tree in 2015.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

We do things a bit differently - though we too do not have a TV, which does help keep things simpler - and we rarely are in town shopping. Our youngest daughter was born on Dec. 11 and I had just put the tree up before I went to the hospital all those years ago (she just turned 45) so our family tradition has been that we still put the tree up on her birthday. That gives us a happy two weeks with the tree and decorations.

We then pack away the decorations very soon after christmas (just have the lights and the big tree to pack away today and we are finished) and begin our winter cleaning - giving us a sparkly clean and shiny house to begin the new year - ready for all that is to come with a "clean face and hands and home". We celebrate the New Year in a quiet and thoughtful attitude, with no decorations to distract us and no big chores waiting for us. We enjoy that others leave their decorations up for us to share when we drive or walk past, but our tradition suits us just fine and we are happy with our early celebrations and our clean house - ready to fill it with the new year.

May all your holidays be fabulous!

Granny Sue said...

Jo Ann, I have done it both ways--up and down early, up and down later. I just love having them for at least 2 weeks! I also like the concept of starting the new year with a clean, calm house and for many years that was what I did. And when we have a live tree, it had to come down earlier for safety's sake.

Have a wonder-filled new year, my friend!

Quinn said...

I woke this morning thinking "Fourth Day of Christmas!" so I guess you can see how I feel about it :)
Like you, I think, I choose to live in a way that's fairly insulated from the noise and clutter of advertising and "must have this." I was kind of stunned this year when I was reading so many blog posts about the pressure of meeting expectations on the holidays. Whose expectations? I wonder.
Happy 4th Day of Christmas!!

Erin said...

What a wonderful post! It speaks to me greatly! Most years I have keep it simple, however, this year I shopped a lot more. I felt much more stress. I love the season too. Next year, I will go back to the homemade and avoid trying to please everyone. I love your blog! We have much in common! Hopefully, I can find space in my days to get back to my own blogging! I do love it!!

Michelle said...

Growing up we always kept up our tree/decor until Jan. 6th. Being a teacher I feel very overwhelmed by the holidays. We bought a few things right before Christmas, but that was all. Having to be absorbed in it at work everyday gets to be too much.

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