i for one am really glad that the holidays are (pretty much) over. it may be a result of coming from a divorced family where i always had to endure at least two separate christmases, but by the time christmas is over every year i feel plain old sick of it.
the holiday parties, the drinks, the appetizers and pastries and candies and drinks and drinks and drinks. the parents and in-laws and step-parents and cousins and co-workers and spouse’s co-workers. the empty boxes and wrapping paper and CRAP you just do not need. it’s a lot. it’s too much. this year i have been really struck by what a compulsive, addictive society we are. we have somehow made a giant, over month-long binge a completely acceptable thing. we eat, drink, shop and consume like mad, and then once january 1st comes, we shame ourselves into crash diets and exercise boot camps and budgets that we can’t possibly maintain. by the time spring rolls around we find ourselves settling into a more balanced lifestyle, but as the year goes on we somehow work our way up to the same mindless binge cycle all over again.
the day after christmas some friends and i were commiserating (over drinks and drinks, and drinks) and we all said that we wished that we could tell our parents, “this year instead of gifts we’d like you to contribute to the baby’s college fund.” or, “here are 3 things that he really needs, maybe you could go in together on one?” but we all agreed that our parents would be deeply offended by this. it would be as if we were robbing them of their annual need to compulsively shop for cheap little things that they don’t realize add up to way more than they are worth.
it seems to be a common thread among people my age, our parents all have tendencies that at times border on hoarder behavior. little rooms in their houses that only have a narrow path on which to walk through, piled high with “stuff.” and the holidays seem to be the time of year that they are given permission to let their freak flag fly and go shop until they drop. the thing of it is that most of these people consider themselves financially strapped. they are by no means wealthy, but they rationalize their purchases by individual price, choosing not to think about the sum total of their gift purchases. quantity over quality seems to be the mantra of the baby boomer generation. i don’t know if it is a reaction to growing up with parents who were brought up with depression-era mentality, but there does seem to be a childlike compulsion with most of the baby boomers that i know to have more, more, more.
while i hate to seem ungrateful, this year i feel particularly disenchanted with the holidays. i have often wished that i could travel every year during this time in order to escape the entire process. in my single days, i often did avoid it with excuses about having to work or with trips out of town. now that we have a baby, my husband and i find ourselves back in our parents worlds, and doubly so. when i look at my son, i wonder what he will come to expect each year when the holidays come. the wonderful thing about having your own family is that you get to build your own traditions. my husband and i are still struggling to find the balance between what we want, and what our parents want. i am hopeful that as my son gets older, we can navigate this better.