Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stop Crapping All Over
My Holiday Depression, I Mean Season

Like a lot of people--perhaps an increasing number of people, I find the holidays depressing. Certainly, there are as many reasons to be bummed out this time of year as there are needles on a Christmas tree: The emphasis on family closeness abrades like sand paper on people coming from dysfunctional homes. The in-your-face, government-sanctioned Christian taintings of what was once a pagan winter solstice celebration insults non-Christians. The anti-Christian protests against those traditional taintings--like the word "Christmas" itself, cause the faithful to be on guard during every one of the final 30 or so shopping days.

Enough already. This world is full of monstrosities and injustices more worthy of disparaging. Sulk in private, stew in silence, or air your grievances around the Festivus Pole, but stop taking shots at a holiday that at its worst exploits commercialism, and at its best promotes good will.

People who fuck with Christmas are cowards who won't venture near real issues, are people who don't have a solid cause the rest of the year, are people who think they're taking a stand because they declare their hatred of seasonal music. Get over it.

Dysfunction was rife in the St. Onge household, but we were close and loving, and my childhood memories of Christmastime are rich with the magic, expectation, and the sensory feast of the season: the tastes and smells of gingerbread and spritz, egg nog and cocoa, the fascination of blinking lights, spicy odors of cedar and pine, the silver bite of snow, red and green and gold packages and paper. These are the things that get me through the bleak months.

Winter equals death in my family. My dad died five days before Christmas in 1978. I was 14, my brother, 12. Our mother died five days after the new year, 2001. My mother's mother died in November of 1955. I've mentioned before that the onset of winter triggered grief in my mother. Like her, this is the time of year when Joe and I can only think of all we've lost.

With just the two of us left, and my nephew who splits Christmas between two families, the effort to celebrate dissipates a little more every year. We always say, "No Christmas this year; don't feel up to it." Then about a week before December 25, we get a tree, trim it, and bask in the magic and the memories of happier Christmases.

We play carols, drive around the neighborhood admiring lights and decorations, and at the last minute our spirits are lifted. Joe and I realize that our innocence, our family as an intact unit, live on in the songs, the lights, the smells and colors, seeing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, and The Little Drummer Boy for the zillionth time.

We talk about how Mom and Dad used to lock us in the bedroom to watch A Christmas Carol while they "secretly" wrapped presents on Christmas Eve. We remember favorite presents, and grieve our old, red and green stockings our Aunt Mary made that haven't hung on the mantle in twenty years. Then we vow to celebrate with vigor and earlier preparation the next year, but those intentions drown under seasonal grief and the everyday worries and frustrations that tax us.

You may hate Christmas, and maybe you have a legitimate reason. But all the things you hate--the music, the hype, nativity scenes and paper snowflakes--whatever, those are the things that resonate with a small part of me that hasn't become hardened and jaded. My childhood and the people I love and have lost are ghosts in candycanes and red ribbons, in blinking lights and Santa dolls, in verses of O Holy Night and Silver Bells.

And despite the sorrow their absence causes, I just can't hate them.


Blogger annush said...

i loved your post.

i just want to give you a hug now and buy you a gingerbread biscotti and an eggnog latte :)

i hope your holiday season, despite the crazies who may not want to be so, is a happy one!


4:35 AM  
Blogger Cindy St. Onge said...

Thank you Annush!
Mmmmm...gingerbread biscotti and eggnog latte... ooh I have to get some coffee.

I'm hugging you right back, and wish you Feliz Navidad and a mui bueno Nuevo Ana! Sorry, my Espnol is awful.

11:38 AM  
Blogger azalea the black said...

Hey Darlin!
I love the name of you blog, thanks for leaving me a comment, I meant to put you on my favorites (which I'm about to do right now) and I'm glad I just found your Christmas blog.
Your the best, cindy st. onge!

4:47 PM  

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