In the Eagle’s song ‘Hotel California’ there is a phrase which goes: some dance to remember, some dance to forget. This is so true and both are normal. I have known so many people who feel that just because they are not a bubbly pool of pudding during the holiday season that there must be something wrong with them. But it is highly understandable why there is so much depression during this time of the year.
What do you normally see when you turn on the television? There are sappy specials about everyone coming home for the holidays. There are the sappy specials about the one child who is so entrenched in work they forget everyone else until that wonderful moment during the holidays when they realize the importance of family. There are the sappy specials where divorced parents realize their undying love for each other and reconcile. PUKE! You might as well go back to the day when Lassie sees Timmy in the well drowning up to his neck and goes to warn farmer Jones about it and they all rescue little yet klutzy Timmy at the very last moment. By the time the seasons are over it is amazing that no one has put a contract on the fat man in the red suit, blew up a turkey, and burned down a Christmas tree!
The reality is that life continues even during the holiday season. There are also very bad memories which many people life with even during the holidays. I remember talking with a survivor of the Vietnam hill 875. During 1967 in Dak To there was a massive 110 hour fight to obtain what someone in ‘leadership’ thought was an essential hill. After a bloody battle they reached the top of the hill. Once they got there they realized two major things: one was that there were no enemies on the hill that they had all escaped through tunnels; two was that it was Thanksgiving. The military in their typical amazement at that time sent in a classic Thanksgiving meal to men who had not been able to clean the mud and blood off them and had no utilizes. Many ate out of their helmets with their hands. Another wonderful memory which many of our Vets have about this season is how they had a ceasefire but the enemy never received the memo so they are out in the bush, supposedly at a peace time, hoping not to be killed by the enemy or a booby-trap. Even apart from the military there are hundreds who live in lower than poverty conditions when the dream of the TV specials is nothing more than a cruel mocking. There are those who live in fear on a daily basis having domestic violence as their own holiday special events. Some just remember the holidays as just another reason for their parents to get staggering drunk and have just one more fight all with holiday cheer.
I do not want to take away from the wonderful time of the year which for many is truly special. But it is also time for those who do not feel the joy and excitement to not believe they are odd or abnormal. The mind is a strict time keeper. It does not forget things simply because it is Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Years. If anything somethings are remembered because of their association with this time of the year. Maybe if we want to do gifts and special things for people it is time to do something special personally. Maybe it is time to accept that you are perfectly normal for not feeling all warm and fuzzy during this time of the year. Maybe it is time to accept yourself for your own realities that may not be shared by everyone. Maybe it is time that you stopped trying to be ‘just like everyone else’ and simply accept who you are in reality. Your past makes you who you are today. We are not controlled by our past but our past does influence who and what we are very strongly.
If you feel like taking part in the ritualistic killing of a Christmas tree where you bring something living in the wild into your home, decorate it with bright colors and then wait watching all the needles fall off, then do it. If you do not care to decorate then don’t do it. We do not decorate simply because it is too much effort and we know we have to put everything back away in a couple of weeks. The very thought makes my back ache! Whatever you choose to do this holiday season be true to yourself. If you do not want to do anything that is also permissible. If you have someone special to be around, enjoy their company. If you do not have anyone then fix yourself a nice cup of hot coco or a steaming hot toddy and enjoy you own company. Relax and simply learn to be yourself because you are accept just the way you are.