It’s Christmas. At least, the marathon showings of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story tell me that it is. I’ve been watching reruns of the X-Files, instead.
I put up my Christmas tree two weeks ago, because the area near my desk is pretty dark, and I thought the Christmas lights would help. I have some candy canes in a vase on my coffee table, because I like the taste of peppermint. I had tried, for a moment, to get into the Christmas spirit, sending out a few dozen Christmas cards to friends and relatives. I tried, but it isn’t really happening.
I’ve never been a big “Christmas person”. There’s a lot of pressure associated with the holiday that I just don’t deal well with. I remember on year, when I was in high school, my mother got upset with me because I wasn’t “excited enough”. I don’t ever see my family now, and haven’t really, in years, despite the fact that many relatives are local. I occasionally get invited to a holiday dinner, but if I go, it ends up being overly stressful. I get to field questions about why I’m not married, and don’t I want children? I get to explain for the nth time why I’m not teaching. I get to rehash the painful details of my mother’s death, which happened 8 years ago. I get stuck in this weird flux, because some relatives don’t recognize the fact that I’m almost 30 years old. The last time they saw me, I was 12…so I’m still a 12 year old in their eyes. Family get-togethers can be difficult for anyone, but for me, it’s often even more awkward, because although these people are my relatives, they might as well be strangers. We don’t know each other, and I end up feeling like I can’t relax, and I can’t be myself…Rather than deal with that stress, I end up just staying home. Which is alright, except that people expect you to be with others for the holidays.
I have some amazing friends, but they all do things with their families for the holidays, and I’m not particularly close with any of their families…so again, I tend to pass up invitations. I don’t want to be with people for the sake of being with people. I want to be with people who I love, and enjoy spending time with. Since everyone usually has familial obligations, that isn’t really feasible around the holidays. And again, I’m content to sit here, under a blanket, watching X-Files reruns. Until someone asks me why I’m alone, or asks if I got anything good for Christmas.
Here’s the thing. I haven’t done gifts in years. Financially, I just can’t do it. And I know others who are in the same boat as I am, and many more who spread themselves incredibly thin just to be able to fulfill the “obligation” of buying gifts for people. It isn’t that I don’t want to buy gifts…I’m just not going to let a holiday dictate when or what I should buy for someone else. I never really got a lot in terms of gifts after I turned 18, and especially not once my mother passed. My father gives me something whenever she can…my siblings have never really gotten gifts for anyone, and I was probably still in middle school the last time I received anything from my extended family. I don’t expect gifts. But I hate feeling like I’m somehow missing out, or like something is wrong with me because I don’t spend Christmas in a room full of people, unwrapping presents.
I wonder how many other people go through a similar experience. It isn’t something you often hear about…the single person, without close family, spending the holidays alone. It doesn’t have to be sad. I like to look at the holidays as a bit of a vacation…time that I can really spend on myself, doing whatever I want to do (or doing nothing at all!). I feel fine, until someone makes a comment alluding to the idea that I’m missing something…that I must not be loved enough or something, because it’s really sad to not have company or presents.
You know what? I don’t need presents. Most gifts end up being random trinkets and baubles…and while they’re nice, I don’t need more stuff taking up space in my home. As for the things I do need, I’ll take the money I saved by not doing anything for the holidays, and I’ll buy what I need myself.
Things could be a lot worse than me, sitting in my apartment, watching tv. I know a lot of people complain that they’re broke, or they’re single during the holidays. My baby brother is currently in a warzone, thousands of miles away from his family and friends. If he’s not complaining, I really don’t know who should be.
I don’t have to be lonely, even if I am alone for Christmas. I’m alone today because my loved ones are busy. I could throw a party tomorrow, if I wanted to. And if I really didn’t want to be alone, I could go out and volunteer somewhere. I’m alone because I chose to stay here, by myself. Please don’t twist that into something it isn’t.
On that note, I have some X-Files to get back to. Fox Mulder is waiting for me.