My husband and I have been trying to find our happy place with regard to the holiday season, and it has been a bit of a struggle.
His family seems to under-celebrate, while my family shifts into over-the-top mode. I've seen him look physically pained during the chaos of my family's present-unwrapping free-for-all, while I have been nearly apoplectic at the idea that there is no Christmas Eve champagne-and-appetizer tradition on his side of the aisle.
I agree with him that financial hardship is no way to start the new year, and I am bad at moderation, so I vowed this year I would try harder. Instead of too many expensive presents, and fancy holiday cards, I tried to focus on the helpful and handmade. I did have a little bit of success, in the form of homemade cookies to share, and special but inexpensive gifts for my parents, but even so, the holiday sparkle I sought remained elusive.
As we strained to keep things chill throughout December, I occasionally wanted to just hide under the covers, so I could make it to the other side without spending money and engaging in wasteful frivolity. The end result was that I felt both sad and scrooge-y, in spite of having successfully avoided the dreaded January credit-card hangover. Why didn't doing the right thing feel better?
Perhaps we didn't do it right. I was especially touched when our brother and sister-in-law splurged on our son, in spite of our no-gifts-please request. I cried when we received the item in the mail from them that I had been wanting to buy for him, but had been trying to talk myself out of. My family also violated the gift rules, sending us treats to put under our tree. Spirit of Christmas, indeed.
I'm coming to the conclusion that the way to do the right thing at Christmas is not to avoid shopping, but rather to avoid shopping at the other times of the year and then at Christmas, turn on the magic. Duh. Here I am, firmly planted in middle age but with so much yet to learn.
I also had some New Year confusion this time around, which surprised me even more. I typically love the new year. I geek out on making goals (more positive and flexible than 'resolutions' in my mind), and tying up as many loose ends as possible before the clock strikes midnight. I can't get enough clean-slate feeling.
But I can't lie, it was tough this year. I have specific goals from last year that are already in progress, and that I plan to continue, so no need to make many more. While this is good, it also left me with little upon which to focus on New Year's Eve. With no need to make my list of goals, too tired after work for champagne, and loose ends basically tied from earlier efforts, I was unsure how to get my festive on.
We went to sleep before midnight, because though my husband and I are not technically old, we are apparently ancient in our hearts. I just didn't feel my usual joy at the turn of the calendar this year. I even woke up grumpy, in spite of no hangover and the aforementioned relaxing evening.
There is a happy ending to this crabby tale, though...as the hours passed on January 1, and I shook off my unsettled feeling from the morning, I was able to feel the positives of the coming year. I could envision some possible victories and some challenges met. I was suddenly calmly enjoying the company of my husband and son and was able to appreciate what we have and to know that we will find a way to achieve our dreams. Finally, somewhere in the middle of the morning, I welcomed 2016. Not in the way that I usually do, but in a new way.
Happy New Year, indeed.