Friday, December 14, 2012

Confession: I’m a holiday hater

During the holidays, I like to keep my mind flooded with complaints: hate holiday food, hate holiday shopping, hate holiday crowds, hate holiday traffic, hate holiday parties, hate holiday party small talk, hate holiday cheer. Scrooge, scrooge, scrooge. I’ve been broke and alone on holidays so I know that now, while I’m in my warm, pajama’d, made-up ritual of a holiday, someone else is having just another cold day. I spend November and December with my forehead fixed in a permanent frown and all the muscles of my body tense up; my scapulas freeze in place.

This year I dug deep to uncover my emotional graveyard. Every time I have an unusually strong emotional response to something, I do some introspection about when it started, why I’m still choosing to react, and how to move past it. This time, here’s the skeleton I found: The holiday season represents everything I judge about myself. One of my deepest fears is that I will be seen as a lazy, boring, stressed out superficial glutton. The holidays represent exactly that to me: lounging around being lazy, having nothing important to do, filling it with unnecessary errands in crowded lines, bantering about the weather, and stuffing my face with food that makes me double over in pain(too much cheese anyone?). 

How ironic that this season is supposed to be a celebration. Ironic because my experience of unconditional love is exactly that: celebrating a person for simply being, shadows and all. It occurred to me that I could re-craft the holidays as a time for me to forgive myself, a time to appreciate love that is judgment-free, no matter how sloth-like or food-stuffed I feel. 

This realization was a big grateful teary-eyed heart-opener for me. But… then I came to a choice.

If I let go of my story about how horrible the holidays are, I become a different person. Jolly? Chipper? Ew. Being a grinch had become comfortable for me. I knew what bent-out-of-shape felt like in my body. And it was my crutch to prove that I was serious and aware of the world’s poor, sick and lonely.  How could I now embrace the holidays in a way that feels genuine?

So this is where I am now: I’m pondering how I can be mindful of others and forgiving of myself. Here’s what I’m asking myself: If I had no self-judgment, what would my posture look like? If I had no fear, how would I walk? If I chose to design a different story about the holidays, one of ease and love, how would I feel? 

What a gift, this season, to allow me to practice loving and being loved.