Ok, I don’t know if “Holiday Induced Anxiety Disorder” is a proper medical term, but I am positive that I have it.
I guess it started about 5 years ago when I was newly re-married with a three year old. In some sense I guess I have always longed for a traditional family and traditions within my own family. Being a product of divorce will do that to a kid. (Granted, my parents handle their divorce in the best way – they are true friends. That’s a blog story for another time.) On the other hand, I am old enough to know that there really is no “normal.” Every family has weirdos and crazies and the super strict and know-it-alls and rule followers and rule breakers and yes-women and addicts and liars and those who are religious and those who are eye rollers. I get it. But for me, I needed and still need MY NORMAL – and I haven’t gotten there yet.
My nuclear family is a small one. We have an only child, bless his heart. It wasn’t our plan, but apparently it was God’s plan, so here we are. Growing up, I always imagined Thanksgiving and Christmas as a time when I would entertain my larger family of 3 sisters, 3 parents, and all the spouses and kids that would come along with them. I pictured that my family and my husband’s family would join together in perfect harmony, drinking spiked egg nog and telling stories around the kitchen while I put out a perfectly glazed ham and appetizers got devoured. Well news flash – THAT AIN’T HAPPENING.
We have a couple of traditions that stood the test of time as we grew up. First up, Dad’s for Christmas Eve dinner and gifts. Then, 12 hours later, off to Mom’s for Christmas breakfast and gifts. Over the past couple of years, my Mom has chosen a different day for her breakfast. This has been a nice change because it splits up the two events that are held with the same people. However, that has been replaced with going to my husband’s mother’s for Christmas breakfast and gifts. Add to that the fact that I need to get my family to church on Christmas Eve, do Santa with my own child, plus clean up and organize a bunch of crap that nobody needed or wanted, and here is where my anxiety and questions set in. Notice I said gifts at each place? It’s too much!
Why do we buy gifts for each other when it is Jesus’ birthday? Wouldn’t it make more sense to go out and do His work as a gift to Him? I don’t want a gift for someone else’s birthday. It’s weird. Now as for kids, I get it. They get gifts to learn about the magic of Christmas, generosity, receiving graciously, etc. At least, I think that’s the purpose?
At what age do I get to prepare a holiday meal at my own home and not go anywhere without offending my family who I respect tremendously? Will they come? Are they going to be mad at me for wanting to change tradition?
Why am I celebrating a day so sacred in my own heart with people who are non-believers? This goes for Easter, too. I hate all the bunnies and eggs and candies. They are not the reason for the season!
Am I modeling for my son that this holiday is about dinner and gifts or about the birth of Christ? How can we enjoy both aspects when we are around people who either don’t believe or aren’t focused on it?
Why do we all feel the need to please each other at our own expense?
I mean, I am physically sick just typing this because the whole subject makes my head swirl. I love my Daddy BEYOND measure, but, I want to go to church and have a quiet night at home! I enjoy being with my Mom, Bonus-Dad and sister’s families so much, but I want for my son to wake up on Christmas morning and not be rushed out the door.
So this begs the question: when is the right time to change tradition? When is it the right time to potentially hurt someone’s feelings that you love? Never? When is the right time to put your own desires first? When do I get to start my own family traditions?
I almost think there are no answers. Am I the only one feeling this way? Tell me your opinions and thoughts! I know that “at the end of the day” I have to live my life in the way that is right for me and my husband and kiddo. But at what cost?
I need a glass of wine and a mediation room STAT.
Happy Christmahanukwanzakah! Enjoy yourself!