Thanksgiving has passed and December is upon us. Despite the fact there are those stores that jumped the gun and have had Christmas decorations up since the day after Halloween (I'm looking at you, Target!), it is only now that the Holidays (with a capital H) have officially started. Maybe I've been numbed by all the early Christmas decor and music, but I am finding it difficult to get in the spirit. Try as I might, it seems to evade me. It feels like any time of year, but with the added aspect of tinsel, increased traffic, and impatient people scouting crowded parking lots for a place to leave their cars as they prowl our city's malls and shopping centers in search of fabulous buys.
Not being a big mall shopper to begin with, I especially try to avoid them this time of year. It is, however, sometimes unavoidable. Yesterday, having finally decided to break down and buy a pair of jeans (I'm not a big wearer of garments of the non-skirted variety), I found myself at the store my friends and I affectionately call Fat Ass Alley. When I got up to the counter to make my purchase, the somewhat frazzled clerk actually thanked me for being nice to her, even though I had done nothing special. Apparently she was understaffed, having had a hard day and appreciative that I did not get angry at having to wait in line. Because I was (for the moment, anyway) the last person, we got to talking about the perversity of people behaving so badly as they shop for a holiday that, when stripped of all its consumerism, is about commemorating the birth of a teacher who taught a philosophy of goodness and kindness.
She proceeded to tell me a story about her grandmother, who had gone shopping this past Black Friday at a store that was supposed to have some great sales on toys. The old woman spotted the last teddy bear in a bin. As she was making her way to the register with it, some mother actually grabbed it right out of her hands and ran. I am no Bible scholar, so maybe I will be shame faced when someone points out to me that she just was reenacting some lost gospel that tells the story of how the Wise Men led the shepherds to a Walmart, where they all brained each other for the last Cabbage Patch Kid, but if you ask me, it all seems a lamentable counterpoint to the purported reason for the season (and far moreso I might add than the debate of "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas", which has always struck me as...well...just plain dumb).
But it's not even just that, somehow even the non Christmas Incorporated fueled aspects of the holidays are just not jelling for me this year. I've watched The Sound of Music (in sing-a-long form, no less! It is a form I can highly recommend!) and part of It's a Wonderful Life (as is my tradition, I've never actually seen the full movie...if I saw it now, I think I might feel less special). I've listened to Christmas music, which while it has for some good car singing, has not as of yet filled me with an irrepressible sense of holiday joie de vivre. I've also started shopping, making gifts, and even gathering materials for Amnesty International's Holiday Card Action thinking that maybe doing something nice for someone else would put me in the spirit, but haven't been able to get much further than going through the motions. Perhaps it's just a residual of the past week's malaise, but my inner Christmas elf is just an empty shell, a charade. A charade, I tell you! (Note: If you're going to read this speak U.S. English, I really do insist that you pronounce "charade" in your head in the 40's film star manner of "sh&-'rAd" and not "sh&-'räd" as the former is far more dramatic. If there's one thing hollow Christmas elves insist upon, it is drama).
But back to holiday malaise. After googling "holiday blues", I am convinced that I don't have it, at least not according to the definition provided by the University of Maryland Medical Center, which also offers a link to tips for managing holiday depression, but doesnt't really address the blahs. Further googling ellicited additional psychology oriented websites, an article that informed me that it would not be atypical for me to feel "less 'holly and jolly' and more 'strained and stressful'", but I am feeling none of the above. I'm just not feeling it. The best site I found contained a list of the Top Ten Holiday Blues Records. While interesting, it unfortunately did not really address the problem at hand.
The problem at hand is that I really don't want to feel numbed to the good sides of the holidays. I don't want my deepest feeling about the Christmas to be apathy or that it is a real pain in the ass to have to go shopping. So, I will just have to keep trying to force jollity and hope it turns into the real thing. Perhaps I will get down the box with the Christmas decorations this afternoon. Or maybe I'll just write some Christmas cards and think about how fortunate I am to have the friends and family of choice that I do. There, see! Just writing that last bit makes me feel slightly less apathetic already. Maybe there is still hope!