I’m unbelievably self-absorbed.
Not content to simply ‘feel’ emotions, I poke and analyse my feelings in a quest for further meaning, implications, deductions and failing all that, at least a rational explanation. It is not enough for me, to say, “I loathe XYZ.” I have to ask myself, “Why? What exactly do I loathe in XYZ? What could change in XYZ that would make me loathe him/her/it less? More? What does it say about me that I loathe XYZ? Why do I care sef?” etc. etc.
That said, you can understand why it is not enough for me to merely ‘feel’ exasperation at Christmas. Not at the event itself, o. Good Lord, no! I love the Christmas Story, adore the carols. What I can’t stand is the urge/need/push to bend over backwards and do financial gymnastics just to celebrate Christmas. Caveat, I make no attempt to dictate how people should/should not spend their money. But, I need to reply a few people who have tried to impose on me certain ‘obligations.’
For instance, why does my hairdresser stare balefully at me when I reply her, “Auntie, you won’t make Christmas hair?” with a simple “Nope.” What is ‘Christmas Hair’? Do I look a hag? No? So why am I expected to plunk down money to look different from how I look the rest of the year?
Then there are the myriad of Christmas shows and Christmas parties and visits to Santa’s grotto. Christmas clothes, Christmas shoes, Christmas bags. And what is with the hampers? Over-priced, junk-filled baskets, the sight of which provoke my aunts to fretting. “Ai, I didn’t buy hamper for our society chairman, oh. Ehn!” And off they go! Back into Balogun Market to shoulder, elbow and upset their way to the hamper section, yours truly in tow. (Just so you understand what a harmless, self-serving rant this is, I adore proper hampers; the ones with original Danish cookies not Cabin biscuits).
On a serious note though, I don’t think Christmas is about all these things. I really think they don’t matter, in the final analysis. Christmas is primarily about Jesus’ birth, and by extension the love shared by the Holy Family. A love we are called to imitate in our families. My earliest memory of Christmas brings to mind buffet lunches at my grandparents with my cousins, siblings and I wasting all our pocket money on fire-crackers that the adults pretended to be annoyed at. (Then they’d come ‘show’ us how to hold the stick while it exploded without burning our fingers!) It was always a grand reunion. We’d dance, take pictures, sing, eat till we couldn’t breathe. I looked forward to Christmas, primarily because I’d see everyone. I actually resented my Christmas clothes because my mother would never let me really play in them so I’d secretly pack play clothes…
I’m older now, most of my cousins are married and family reunions are harder to organize. The buffet is less appealing because I do a lot of work to get it prepared, kind of blunts my appreciation. For me, most of the outer trappings are gone. What remains is the core, the Love. People show it in different ways. Some write personal, hand-written notes to loved ones (Simon Elvin and Hallmark, eat your consumerist hearts out!). Others help out in leper colonies (Big Ups to Uncle T, my inspiration!). Others pack their old clothes, old toys and hand them over to orphanages. Some prepare food and share to beggars. And all make some personal sacrifice. Like I hope I will once I figure out what to give up…maybe after I write this.
There is of course, the argument that we shouldn’t wait till Christmas to do charity or be nice. Completely valid. But like my sister says, “If you can’t do it at Christmas, then when can you?”