And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, December 02, 2007

'Tis the Season to Feel Torn

I always do during the Holidays. Part of it is depression, and part of it is brainwashing from the TV and other media about what the season is all about.

It starts with Thanksgiving. Now, I know some people are object to the whole Thanksgiving thing, and I don't mind. To me it's just a day to eat good food and spend time with the fam. I don't have the fleetingest thought of disease-carrying, land-grabbing pilgrims or anything else that "traditionally" Thanksgiving is about.

But I digress. As I was saying, it all starts with T-day. I get to thinking about all the wonderful things in my life and how I spend less time appreciating them than complaining about the things I wish were different. Soon, I am all in a depressive funk because I DO have a fabulous family, loving hubby, and beautiful children. I DO have a warm and dry home, food to eat, a job that I am competent at and that keeps the warm, dry home and food in my possession. I am unworthy of all these blessings. I get all down on myself because if I was TRULY grateful for these things I would keep my home cleaner and more welcoming, I would prepare meals with a more joyful spirit, I would treat my family and loved ones better every day of the year.

After I make it through T-day comes the hard part. The holiday shopping. Keep in mind that I just got done beating myself up for being an ungrateful wretch, so this time of year REALLY messes me up. I don't care what winter holiday you celebrate, be it Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or anything else I may have forgotten. The winter holiday means gifts. It means acts of charity. Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards (Wo)Men. All the good stuff.

There are a couple issues here. The first is that, since I have just spent time realising that I have totally taken advantage of my family for the last year, I want to make their holidays wonderful. I want to find that one thing that will prove to them how loved and appreciated they are. I want to make their faces light up with pure joy. I want to make them cry. Unfortunately, such perfect gifts (if I can find them at all) are generally out of my price range. So then I comfort myself with the thought that the season is not all about gifts, that $$ isn't everything, that if I put thought and love into a gift it makes up for the small price tag. Unfortunately, I am fighting almost 30 years of conditioning that this is NOT the case. Not from my parents, who always taught my bro and I that family and love is more important than money, but from society and the media and my own drive to be "perfect". So that is the first thing.

The second is the thought that I DO have it very lucky. During this season we are constantly reminded that there are many in this country less fortunate than ourselves. There are families who are going to have a hard time keeping warm and having enough to eat this winter. They aren't worried about what to get for gifts, they are worried about how to survive. I want to make it better for them, bring some joy into their lives. I feel ungrateful and selfish for worrying about my own petty issues. Unfortunately, I can't fix it for everyone. I can do a little, but since it is a budget stretch to get gifts for my own family, my ability to make the season magical for everyone in the whole world is a little hampered.

The next logical step, since I can't use $$ to make everyone happy, is to donate my time. To host the holidays in fantastic style, to volunteer at the food shelf, local shelter, etc, to hand make fabulous wonderful beautiful gifts. Deliver meals to the elderly, help with a Toys for Tots drive. Whatever.

One little problem. I work two jobs and am a full time Mom. DH works full time, is in a band, and does contract work at home for his company. Time is about as short around here as money is.

Then comes the final kicker. The last straw, as it were.

I get depressed because I have no reason to be depressed. I get angry with myself for being so selfish and shallow that I would beat myself up over these things. I tell myself that I try SO HARD, and that has to count for something. That I do what I can to the best of my ability and no one can ask more from me. That no one expects it. But I never quite believe it.

So that's it. That is my holiday gripe for the year. I promise not to do it again, but I feel much better for getting it off my chest.


Wendy said...

Okay, well, here's the first thing you need to change. This statement I am unworthy of all these blessings. . It's bullsh*t, if you will excuse my being so blunt.

You absolutely DO deserve it. You deserve everything you have. You've worked hard, and continue to work hard, and you've made difficult choices, and the result of your choices is the lifestyle you have.

I have a wonderful life - great kids, an amazing husband, a nice, warm house, reliable transportation, decent clothes to wear, and enough food in the pantry at any given time to feed two families for a month.

I'm very lucky, and I'm thankful for the "blessings" in my life - every day.

But here's the thing that took me a long time to figure out and actually believe - my life is the way it is BECAUSE of me ... not inspite of me. I made choices that got me right here, right now. I could have made different choices, and other stuff would have happened, but I didn't.

I also didn't fall asleep and wake up to this wonderful life. I've been an active participant in MY life for forty years, and for good or bad, it is what I've made it.

I deserve it.

And so do you. You deserve the life you have.

Stop beating yourself up. You deserve your life, and those people who are in your life are as lucky to have you as you are to have them.

I know what you're feeling, though, and I still struggle with it, too. It's easy to get caught up in wanting to be generous during the holiday season, but it can leave you feeling exhausted and ineffectual. Advertisers know this and manipulate us into feeling guilty, because it increases their bottom line. Give yourself a break, but if you need to feel like you're doing your part, spread out your generosity over the whole year, and resolve to do something for someone all year long. I volunteer to support our soldiers stationed in Iraq, but there are dozens of programs that can use assistance, not just during Christmas, but all year long. Believe me, if you spend several hours a month doing something just to make someone else, outside of your family, smile, it's easier to approach this "giving season" with the knowledge that you've done your part.

barefoot gardener said...

*tearing up a little*

Oh, I know. Like I said, the last straw is knowing that I am getting upset over nothing. I KNOW that the way I feel is skewed, but fixing it is so much harder than it sounds.

Still, I appreciate your input and support. It's nice to hear it from someone else. It helps to put things into perspective.

Lisa said...

Oh cr*p! I think I wrote this post and left it on poor, unsuspecting BG's blog!

There is no more to say, except, "Ditto" because I feel the same way... every year.

It one thing that meds can't change!

barefoot gardener said...


I hopped online at this aweful hour of 4:30am to delete this post, because I thought it was too whiny. I still might later, but I wanted to say:

1. See Wendy's post above. We are worthy!

2. Chin up, darlin'. We both know that come the actual day, things work out. The family enjoys the together time, gifts are happily given and received, and it all works out okay.