Holidays seem to bring out the intensity of whatever our beliefs and attachments to family are. It starts to tingle unconsciously in October, after the September hustle and bustle has settled and Halloween rolls closer. Once late October and early November are here, the time suddenly accelerates so quickly that when I open my eyes again, I’m in the thick of organizing holiday gatherings with friends and family.
Obviously, I haven’t confirmed this alongside any meaningful body of research – rather, this is how my mind has organized my observations of myself, the experiences of people close to me, and my clients as we process reactions to the winter-time season. This is my own framework for these last few months.
I don’t feel any strong sense of joy or excitement connected broadly with the holiday season. Early experiences of dysfunction have pessimistically tinted my red-and-green holiday Santa glasses. I don’t throw myself into the holiday season and I don’t get enraptured by patterned aluminum wrapping paper and plastic reindeer covered in synthetic fur. I know I’m being flippant.
I feel worried that my sass may bring up flashbacks of How the Grinch Stole Christmas when, really, nothing could be further from the truth.
The part that makes the holidays wondrous for me are the moments I share with people because people are more open to sharing them. I have no intrinsic excitement for stringing up Christmas lights around the home, but seeing the brightness in my sister’s eyes when she shows me her snowy holiday tree and gold lights all trimmed up makes me smile. Hearing my rideshare driver become flushed and chatty about her plans to travel to California to see her girlfriend makes me excited with her. Watching a light-hearted family movie with a friend who has no attachment to family and seeing him laugh throughout the film is what warms my heart.
I don’t have a vague, temporal connection to Christmas as a joyous time, and so I create the moments that do bring me joy. I join in the festivities, not because of the festivities themselves, but because it gives me a chance to spend just a little more time with the people I care about.
Within my wintertime framework, it feels like people are just a little more willing to be open and inviting, to give slightly more of themselves, and to sit beside each other under a cozy blanket and share a laugh.
Even if the holidays are one part of a larger social construction, I still crave the warmth that comes from our repeated ways of sparking connection with each other.