Never

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Never | I never thought I’d…What did you think you’d NEVER do, but you did this year.  Why?  What changed your mind?

True story: I hate Christmas.

When I got divorced, I gave myself the gift of quitting Christmas. It just felt like a lot of obligation, and seasonal décor, and food I didn’t like, so I opted out. And it was a relief.

American Commercial Christmas does not fit into my belief system. I feel overwhelmed by it. I like sending Christmas cards, and I like a couple of Christmas movies, but otherwise, I find the whole holiday season to be a sea of wasted resources and forced obligation.

My mother tells me that she doesn’t understand why I hate the holidays because I used to anticipate them so much as a kid. But I think she’s projecting that on to me. She and my father both love Christmas; they take great joy in buying gifts, and decorating the house, and they enjoy the build-up.

I hate anticipation. I won’t watch suspenseful movies. I even fast-forward through films I’ve already seen at the “exciting” parts. I find suspense so agitating that I avoid situations where I don’t know what comes next. I find those sorts of situations and movies to be something to be tolerated rather than something I enjoy.

And I think that my mother confuses the abject anxiety I had as a kid about the holiday anticipation with the (admitted) joy I had about receiving gifts. So what I have always seen as a really anxiety-provoking experience as a kid (albeit one that included the thrill of presents),  my mother viewed as something I really looked forward to at one stage.

I can see where she’d maybe be confused. But the truth is…I’ve just always hated the holidays. Once I quit Christmas, I felt like the pressure was finally off; like I didn’t have to put myself into any of those situations where I didn’t know what was happening next. I didn’t have to eat any foods I didn’t want to eat; I didn’t have to have all those tchotchkes in my house representing Santa and Elves and what have you — things I didn’t like and didn’t believe in and that looked and felt…creepy.

I was free. I went skiing in Europe. I went to the Caribbean. I went to South America. I went to Australia. I went to Thailand. I ate a ton of Asian food, and I slept in, and I ran, and did yoga, and helped the needy, and saw friends, and engaged in absolutely none of that Commercial Christmas Bullshit, and I felt wholly human and completely engaged with the holiday spirit.

Just…not in that terrible, red-and-green-paper-wrapped, commercial, anxiety-provoking way that I’d been told my whole life was CHRISTMAS.

And then I met Paul, who is a Christmas Enthusiast.

Paul loves Christmas. He loves Santa. He believes children should believe in Santa (whereas I feel one should not lie to them and lose credibility as a parent). Paul believes a home should be decorated for Christmas, whereas I, personally, cannot fathom ever putting up and decorating a Christmas tree ever again. My feelings about Christmas trees are roughly the same as my feelings about sailboats — I enjoy and admire them when they belong to someone else.

Paul and I are of the same mind about most things, except this.

And this is why, after I swore up and down that I’d never, ever celebrate Christmas again, I am sitting in the airport lounge, waiting for a much-delayed flight, so I can fly to family Christmas in Dublin.

I love Paul, and I love his family, and even though this whole season makes me want to tear my hair out, one reaches a point where it’s not about one’s own fears and anxieties and frustrations anymore.

In other words, you just shut up, and get on the plane.

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