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26 December 2011 @ 01:02 am
Autumn into winter...  
I used to adore the holidays - and I do mean holidayS. Starting with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then St Nick's, then Christmas, then New Years - it was a lovely parade of secrets and plotting and projecting and shopping, followed by the thrill of wrapping and gifting and partying. But, the last few years, things have just seemed... flat. I was willing to write off a year or two, but this has the stink of a pattern about it.

Thanksgiving has been sort of a failure for a few years. Illness and family issues have made family Thanksgivings a bad idea, when they are even held. I've spent a few of them with others' families, the outsider looking in, and I've spent a few of them home, alone. This past year I went with a friend and her family, but that only ended up highlighting the quiet emptiness when I got back to my house. Not really uplifting start to the holiday long weekend, with all that time to contemplate. 

Christmas has been fading for some time now. When I well and truly left the Christian faith, the religious underpinnings no longer added anything more than some beautiful music to the holiday. I enjoy time with my family, but it is often stressful and in recent years has been overshadowed with the twin specters of dementia and death. It is hard, particularly when part of the family is in denial, part of the family is pointedly ignoring, and part of the family is slowly drifting away, unaware of the rifts behind them... Even holiday gift-giving has seemed somewhat lack-luster. I like getting gifties, but I adore giving them, particularly when I know they will be just perfect. However, I have had limited successes in recent years (I had a really good one tonight, but one of the others that I was most excited about was ruined, I learned yesterday) and, while I don't mean to be ungrateful or whiny, I have not been real impressed with my family this year. I mean, both my mother and my father gave me wine... red wine... red wine which I cannot drink!... At least my mama also gave me some other lovely toys, but it just sort of smacks of not paying attention. I know I'm not my dad's favorite daughter, but really, he shouldn't be trying to poison me for Christmas. :P It says something that probably the most personal gift I got this year was that my brother, who made cookies-in-a-jar (just add butter and an egg!), put dark chocolate M&Ms in my jar on purpose since he knows I favor them over milk chocolate. Even silly little St Nicks - usually an excuse for chocolates and funny little gifts didn't really seem worth it this year - just another bother that roommates/coworkers wouldn't really care about or appreciate.

New Year's is meant to be silly fun, but in recent years teffan has been my most reliable midnight kiss. I've had significant others over the last few years, but they have usually been either absent or odiously impaired by that point - not exactly a fortuitous way to start the new year...

However, above all this, I think the most disturbing part for me was the loss of Halloween. Halloween had been my favorite holiday since I was a very small child. I'd plan my costume for months in advance and often constructed the whole outfit myself. (Oh! The sewing horrors of some of my early attempts!) I used to plan elaborate parties, or go with folks en masse to State Street, or party with friends up at the resort. I used to decorate the house more for Halloween than any other holiday and there are buckets and buckets of decorations in the spider closet in the basement. But five years ago, there was effectively no Halloween - it had been too much of something I shared with Greg. Then the next year, I just didn't really feel inspired and thought it was just lingering malaise. But the decorations have stayed in their bins since then, save the big grim reaper I put up this year, moments before trick-or-treaters arrived and pulled down again that same night. I went to the resort three years ago, and that was fun, but quiet... two years ago I was in DC that weekend and didn't really dress up or go out at all... last year, though I had a costume idea, it was sort of slapped together and my enthusiasm for it had been sort of squished. As it turned out, when the day itself came around, I was too tired and ill to go out anyway and just couldn't pull together enough care to even feel bad about it.   


I'm probably just whining. I'm probably just getting too old for this excited-at-holidays thing. :/ I should probably just settle back and try to be comfortable with the role of the family "maiden" aunt... I miss the excitement of the holidays, I just don't know how to re-enliven them. I feel like I've been at least attempting the right things, but something very crucial is missing.
Tags: ,
Current Mood: discontentdiscontent
jtdiiijtdiii on December 26th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I am filling the crazy old uncle role... with relish I might add.

I do find that spending time around kids really helps, they do bring some of the magic back. And as my nephew goes to eleven... lots of mayhem.

eithni: greeneithni on December 27th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
Quality crazy aunt antics will have to wait until my niblings are a little older, but I certainly plan on working that angle too. :)
jtdiiijtdiii on December 27th, 2011 05:12 am (UTC)
We will be waiting for the stories with bated breath... :)
Albredaalbreda on December 26th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
I hear you. Expectations are tricky, and hope is even trickier. We took the kids to their first grown-up Christmas eve service, and it was so bad that *I* was bored. No magic, no ambiance, no NOTHING except good hymns to sing, and even then the tempos were off. They didn't even dim the lights when we lit the candles. Kind of hard to mess up, but they managed it. Anyway, I hear you.

Maybe try something new, instead of hoping to get old traditions right? I made stuffed shells for Christmas Eve dinner, which worked perfectly since I could do them in the morning (before insanity set in), then just pop them in the oven that night. I made a double batch, too, so we had the other batch last night, and Mom is doing the turkey today, on the 26th, so we had an unhurried Christmas, and Owyn gets a nice dinner today when he finally arrives, having had to work last night. Different, but good.

I hope the rest of your holidays are far better.
eithni: greeneithni on December 27th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
raventhourne on December 26th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Hugs and luv to you!

If you ever want a nice warm family style christmas there is always room for you at our house in AZ. We have fun and games and just hang out...no expectations just good food, good fun and friends and friends that are family around.

eithni: peekabooeithni on December 27th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
dread_exdread_ex on December 27th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
I understand perfectly.
For Xmas my raging alcoholic sister gave me rum and
regular coke. I am diabetic and only drink occasionally and I can't drink reg coke.
She had her family give everyone booze.
She put no thought into gift giving.
I'll post a rant about this in my own journal
eithni: snapeeithni on December 27th, 2011 04:24 am (UTC)
Wow. Just wow.
Aaron (Rusty) Lloydrustmon on December 27th, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
*HUGS* and love.
DameJ: Grad Picturedamej on December 27th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. Over the years, some of my bitterest disappointments have come when I've hoped to re-capture/re-create magic moments from the past. I've decided that experimenting with new holiday celebrations (with those members of my family who are still with us and still willing to participate in holiday celebrations) works better, because there are no expectations to be disappointed, and occasionally I am pleasantly surprised.
eithnieithni on December 29th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
Good point. I think part of the downer was that it was just my mom and I, but this year that really couldn't be helped...
judithsewstoo: Sheep Bath - purplejudithsewstoo on December 28th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
You need to find the magic for *you* that works and makes *you* happy. Look to the past only with fond remembrances, but never stop moving forward.

*hugs* I miss you.

My wish for you is that your New Year is filled to overflowing with love, laughter and prosperity. I wish I could do more, but my gift to you is my continued offer of friendship, love and respect. Be kind to yourself, k?
eithni: jumpingeithni on December 29th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
These are great gifts! :) we really should try to get together sometime this year, especially since I'm not certain I'll make Pennsic this year. Any plans to get to the west end of the Midrealm?
judithsewstoojudithsewstoo on January 1st, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
I wish. With our finances being so in flux, I can't commit to anything. Especially trips to the north western part of the Midrealm. Chicago alone is about an 8-10 hour car trip.

I hope you can make it to Pennsic. *hugs*
eithni: excellenteithni on January 2nd, 2012 05:07 am (UTC)
OK, well, let me know if anything comes up or if you know of any event you are going to that I may be interested in...
(Deleted comment)
Road Emuroad_emu on December 29th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
For me, Halloween started dying when I moved to West Allis, where trick-or-treating is strictly limited to the Sunday before Halloween between 2-4 PM. When you add my significant other's discovery of "Costume Party Wins as a Source of Revenue" and halloween bar-hopping as a bodyguard for a Bender costume, that killed it. Halloween was always my favorite. I miss it.
Road Emuroad_emu on December 29th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
Eithini, I am sorry. I have felt pretty much the same way about the holidays for years. I paid careful attention to what fleeting pleasures I felt this year and plan to do things to bolster those moments next year. I am sorry to say that I also think that the unrelenting, invasive nature of holiday advertisement and information has also done a lot of damage to my capacity to enjoy the holiday. I saw a picture of a billboard that was empty and some graffiti wag had sprayed across it, "The Joy Of Not Being Sold Anything." I was kind of overwhelmed by how much I empathized with that statement.
eithni: ?!?!?!?eithni on December 29th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Hm. That's definitely part of it. I complete the bulk of my shopping by Thanksgiving so I can avoid retail establishments, but that doesn't save me from the advertising...