Archives for posts with tag: Merry Giftmas

Merry Giftmas, Humans! (Or not; your choice.)

I am seriously hoping each of you, out there in the world, are finding moments, and experiences, worthy of real joy, today. In spite of personal heartbreak, in spite of logistical or financial challenges, in spite of whatever baggage and bullshit you are lugging around for whatever reason, in spite of the turmoil in the world, in spite of the chaos and damage you have endured over time, in spite of petty resentments, erroneous assumptions, and being fully and wholly made of pure human… in spite of all of that, I hope you are merry today. Hell, I hope you are generally merry, as well. I hope you choose what delights you, more often than you choose whatever pisses you off most, or makes you sad, or hurts your heart… being human is not without its challenges. I hope you find merriment within the chaos and the hardship. I hope you make merry regardless of the sometimes unreasonably high level of bullshit and douche-baggery so common to human experience.

Why not choose it? Why not choose to lift yourself up, as often, as skillfully, and to whatever dizzying heights of merriment you can achieve? Doesn’t being content, and filled with practical simple joy, feel ever so much better than misery? We choose that too… for some reason, it’s a much easier choice (seems a bit unfair, but there it is; joy takes rather more practice than heartache).

It’s a lovely moment for joy. This one. Right here. Right now. Take a breath, and find your joy, if you’ve misplaced it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Trust that the decision to let some minor aggravation go feels a bit better than letting it fester. Setting clear boundaries, kindly, but without equivocating, feels so much better than letting yourself be walked on. Clarifying assumptions, and clear expectation-setting feel much better than disappointment. Our honest authentic selves enjoying the honest authentic selves of those dear to us feels so much better than anxious pretense.

I’m just saying… Merry Giftmas, Humans. Choose wisely. โค

It’s Giftmas Eve, and somewhere, someone is stressing over something. Too little time. Too little money. Too many bills. Too much drama. Too much heartache. Too little certainty. Too much pain. Too little opportunity. Something isn’t right, somewhere. I take a moment for silent well-wishes, and a moment of compassion and understanding; life can be hard, and good fortune can be fleeting.

If things are difficult right now, my best advice (you didn’t ask, but I’ve got it handy…) is beyond simple (in words): breathe, let go, begin again.

I know, I know. Your results will vary. There are verbs involved. It may take practice, and incremental change over time is painfully slow, and you’d like to feel better right now. Got it. It’s still going to be you making the choices, taking the actions, doing the work, enduring the slow improvements that come with changing behavior or thinking… And if you don’t make the choices, take the actions, do the work, and endure the slow improvements that come with changing your behavior or thinking, it’s pretty much certain that nothing actually changes, that you were hoping to see change. Waiting around for coincidental changes that just happen to meet your long-term needs is…um… less than effective. Not a best practice. You want change? Do the changing.

Taking time to relax in the holiday glow.

…Giftmas Eve… However you choose to celebrate your winter holidays, and whatever the quality of your experience, I wish you well this holiday season, and I wish you all the joy that could come of wise decision-making, authenticity in your relationships, and the willingness to be the person you most want to be. May the gifts under the tree amount to nothing at all in comparison to the love you experience in life, and the love you share.

I sit quietly, listening to my Traveling Partner breathing softly in the other room. Home for the holidays. ๐Ÿ™‚ His presence has been my most enjoyed “present” so far.

I’m grateful, in this moment, to be content, and aware that I’m okay. Life is pretty good, generally, and the drama fairly sparse, and, while uncomfortable or less than ideal, also has pretty clear solutions. So… there’s that, and it’s enough.

Giftmas isn’t the wholly inclusive holiday we like to imagine it is (those of us who are deeply into it, I mean). There are a lot of people who suffer the winter holidays as they suffer winter itself; eager to put it behind them, and wishing to see the sun again. It’s complicated being human.

When we are told to “be happy”, it can make us feel ever so much more miserable that we seem unable to achieve that for ourselves.

When we have the religious values of one or many faiths thrust upon us repeatedly, for weeks, as secular human beings who don’t practice a faith at all, we may feel excluded from practicing community and culture, itself. We may feel invisible, and unappreciated, as human beings.

When we are bombarded with media marketing for luxury goods “on sale” that we can’t envision ever being able to afford at any price, it can make us feel like outsiders in our communities and our world – trapped.

When we hear “glad tidings” of “comfort and joy” on every radio station, every streaming service, every TV advertisement, and in every retail store or restaurant, while we grieve the loss of loved ones, it can make us feel very much as if the world doesn’t see us here at all.

The result is often that we punish ourselves with our misery, even to the point of feeling guilty or ashamed that we don’t “get it” or “enjoy all that”. That’s pretty shitty, and it’s not fun, and it is uncomfortable. Any of that. All of it.

I’m very merry at Giftmas, myself. In spite of not being a practicing Christian (see: “Giftmas”), in spite of many years of being not at all “happy”, in spite of having very little money in many years (and this one) to spend on gifts, charity, or feasting, in spite of grieving poignant painful losses: I am merry, each Giftmas. I even want to share how that can be a thing.

A good beginning.

There’s no money to splash around on luxurious lavish gifts and frippery this year (and nothing in the picture above required me to spend any money, this year; it’s built on what I already had, and have cared for, for a lifetime), instead, I’ll share “How to be Merry at Giftmas”. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a simple enough idea, in it’s most basic form; make it yours. That’s basically it, summarized. I know, I know, saying something super simple to communicate something nuanced is a bit of a cheat, intended to make it feel accessible, but sometimes missing the most important points. So. Ready? Merry Giftmas, Y’all! Here we go!

The magical Giftmas that almost wasn’t.

Start with where you are. Start with who you are. Your authentic self, your actual values, your own vision.

I grew up in the midst of violence, emotional, physical, sexual (and uncomfortably commonplace in the culture). Guns, alcohol, and rage just… every-fucking-where. Poverty. Trauma. Chaos. Fear. Learned helplessness. Abuse. Gas-lighting. Rather peculiarly, each year that I can clearly recall (sorry, head trauma, right?), it seemed as if “Christmas time” was some sort of surreal cease-fire in the household hostilities (and somehow, even out in the world). “Healing” wasn’t even on my radar yet; I still had an additional lifetime of further trauma, turmoil, and heartbreak ahead me, that I could not even see. (It’s likely that, in some measure, a great many of us do, actually, regardless where we stand right now. Sorry.) Something about the holidays stuck with me; the best bits, actually. Grand holidays meals when far away family arrived to join us at the table. Mornings of twinkle lights and brunch recipes untasted at any other time ofย  year. Gifts. Out of the pain, out of the chaos, for some weird reason, once a year we all sat down together and exchanged gifts. Gifts. We took from our own resources, to give of ourselves to each other. All of it amounted to an extraordinary departure of all of the routines. It seemed… magical.

I have come so far from this place.

My first “Christmas” as an adult, at 18, was… weird. I was in the Army. I was in advance training (and for fuck’s sake already married??), and I went “home” (to my parents house, at my new husband’s instance, even though I was deliberating estranging myself from them, for… reasons). It wasn’t much of a holiday. Uncomfortable, strained by the presence of a stranger (my new husband). I don’t actually recall it at all clearly; I was working too hard trying to live everyone else’s vision of what my life should look like to really make sense out of it, at all. It would have been… 1981?

My Giftmas stocking – and how I keep track of where I was each Giftmas. ๐Ÿ˜€

That was the missing puzzle piece; an understanding of what it takes to make a holiday, myself. See, that’s the thing; we have choices. The day, the season, the time, these are ours to make as we wish to experience them.

I re-created my vision of Giftmas that year, made it over based on my own vision of celebrating the winter holidays, and Yule, in accordance with my own understanding of the “meaning of the season”, which, speaking frankly, has nothing to do with gods or religions, and everything to do with community, charity, gratitude, love, and celebration. It’s winter. We’re all stretched a bit thin at the end of the year – it made sense to me that my Giftmas could be a celebration of sharing, fitting the cultural practices, and keeping all of what I love about the winter holidays, and letting go of all of what did not suit me, personally. I enjoy the merriment. I enjoy the moment to celebrate lost loved ones and honored departed, yes, and still be merry – there is no shame in our tears, or our joy. I love to give a friend some small thing, to say “thank you”, “I love you”, “you mean something to me”, or even just “I know it’s been hard this year”. We’re all in this together, each having our own experience, and each year we have this colossal near-global cross-cultural celebration that clearly extends well-beyond the reach of any one faith; it’s just not really at all about religion. Any religion. lol It’s about everything else, so joyously and so much that any religion within it’s sphere of influence wants a piece of that pie. Me too. So – I celebrate Giftmas. It’s an honest celebration of plenty-amidst-famine, and I celebrate lavishly and generously when I have a lot, and I celebrate joyously and heartily with whatever I’ve got when times are tough. I generally celebrate the season as commencing with the Thanksgiving meal – a season of gratitude and sharing – and I celebrate until I end the holiday season with New Year’s Day with my personal “One Hour” celebration (a contemplative time to explore the past, and plan for the future). It’s scalable sort of holiday, for me, that I can blow out of all reasonable proportion in times of plenty, and still enjoy with irrepressible joy in times of privation. That’s right. I think Giftmas lasts more than a month. LOL ๐Ÿ˜€

Actually, I take the long holiday season so seriously that I regularly give gifts randomly all through the season; nothing gives a beat down to a stressful moment like an authentic expression of value in the form of a small unexpected gift, or a moment over a holiday treat. ๐Ÿ˜€ Certainly, there is no legitimate reason to ration connection, presence, or joy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s okay to feel deeply. It’s very human. I even raise a glass to my Dad.

It does take practice. Sometimes there are poignant moments. I’ve shed many tears either putting up, or taking down, the holiday tree; every ornament has real meaning for me. Gathered with care over many years, each is like a tiny memory box, bringing back floods of emotion, and memories untapped any other time of year (not all of them are pleasant, and I often remind myself that the way outย  is through). I have reflected on so many holidays, and taken from them what worked for me. This is the secret sauce, and the source of merriment; this holiday is mine.

Like our lives, a celebration is built on so many things. Yeah, there are verbs involved.

Merry Giftmas, friends and readers and friends who are readers, and humans I don’t know at all. Make of it what you will. May the season show you magic and wonder – and may you be the creator of magic and wonder in someone else’s holiday. May the year ahead show us each the path to being the human being we most want to be, and may the journey to become that person be enlightening, and maybe not to terribly difficult. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are you having a rough holiday season this year? Please – oh please, dear one, please begin again! โค

Oh hey, right, “Cyber Monday” is today; one more day on the calendar on which retailers attempt to hook more consumers than they typically can, generally by way of lavish promises of great deals. Often the deals are not actually all that great, and there is commonly much shaking of heads, murmurs of “let the buyer beware”, and promises by many not to succumb or be deceived next year.

I did not participate in “Black Friday”. I don’t plan to participate in “Cyber Monday”. What I can afford, in life, is already within my reach. What is not affordable, remains not affordable even on “retail holidays”. I refuse to be mislead or bamboozled out of cash I’m not willing to spend right now. It’s entirely adequate to have a holiday of handmade gifts – or even no gifts at all – and not only is there no shame in that; it can be wholly beautiful, heartfelt, and cherished to enjoy holidays in which something beyond material goods are celebrated. So. Make of that what you will. For me, today is just a work day, and “Black Friday” was a lovely day off enjoyed in the company of people dear to me.

To be clear, I’m not criticizing people who save up hard-earned cash all year to do their holiday shopping on Black Friday to in order to get the most out of meager dollars. I get it. I hope they each, and all, find everything they were hoping to, at prices that put all of that within reach. I’m a big fan of good quality of life, and I recognize that Black Friday is a choice opportunity to get ahead a little, for a lot of people. We each make our choices, based on our wants and needs, our own values, and our own experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanksgiving now over, time to dress the house for the Giftmas season!

I spent the holiday weekend well, I think. Saturday was mostly lost to housework, and it needed to be done. Yesterday I spent preparing the house for the upcoming winter holiday – I love Giftmas, with all the twinkle and glow, the colors, the lights… It is a feast for my senses. First thing in the morning, holiday music and pine scented candles, a cup of coffee, a list of things to do… and by day’s end, the list was checked off, the holiday music silenced, and I sat quietly in the glow of the lights, considering where the next ornament will go on the tree. I didn’t get the tree finished. The dining table is covered in ornaments. lol More fun for me, evening by evening this week. It’s enough, and I am quite contented. ๐Ÿ™‚

…so many more…

Time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I got home precisely on time; the time I arrived. It wouldn’t have mattered what time that happened to be when I stepped from the icy winter cold into the comfort of this strangely almost-not-quite-perfect-and-definitely-not-really-mine little duplex in which I reside. For a moment, it felt like “home”, perhaps simply because it is comfortable here (both temperature and environment), and it so is not anything like “comfortable” outside, today. Is that really what a feeling of home is all about? Comfort? That seems surprisingly practical – and attainable; determine what is not comfortable, make the adjustments necessary to achieve comfort. Repeat. Home! …It’s a thought worth considering further. I make myself a note.

I sit down, here, and make still another note… then find myself writing, after a couple days of just… not. I must have needed the break from all the things, and every routine, because I certainly woke to the morning, today, with plenty of enthusiasm for all the things, after 5 days of utterly willfully leaving all my routines in tatters. Planned spontaneity. lol My favorite sort.

I begin the holiday with a lovely stack of books to read.

I continue to consider comfort – both the practical details, and even as a metaphor. Certainly, I spent the weekend quite comfortable here in this small space in which I live. It was a wonderful holiday. Tender. Connected. Relaxed. Restful. Joyful. Warm. It was definitely in my top 10 Giftmas holidays ever – which still strikes me as a bit odd, since I spent it more or less entirely alone. (Alone aside from a relatively short visit with a friend, Saturday, which was a serious departure from the temporary normal of quiet and leisure spent alone.) I never felt “lonely” (your results may vary), or neglected (again with the reminder; we are each having our own experience), and it was such a deep down drenching sensuous joy to so fully relax, to read a few books I’d gotten behind on, to try new recipes without concern, to set the pace of the weekend and the holiday without having half an eye on whether everyone else’s needs are fully met, ahead of mine. It was satisfying and beautiful. I felt cared for in a different way.

A few more finished… a couple new books added to the stack ๐Ÿ™‚

I still really missed my Traveling Partner, and more than once I found myself very nearly talked into making the trip down his way, against the silent urging of my soul – which really really just wanted to sit still awhile, catch up on some reading, and… not do more things. We spoke often, and chatted enough that I still feel very much that we “shared” the holiday – which I feel pretty certain is going to lead to some amusing future moments in which I can’t remember which year I spent Giftmas alone, because I recall my Traveling Partner being part of all of them. lol Love-pollution.

It was nice coming home tonight. I’d left a light on by mistake – it was less like coming home to an empty place. ๐Ÿ™‚ I make another note to myself, about that. Work is work – but now I’m home. I smile at the much shorter stack of books I have not yet read… and begin again.