holidays are tough times for folks. many folks dread them and others throw themselves into them with wild abandon. everyone knows of the holidays of which i speak- i don't even have to say the name 'thanksgiving' or 'christmas'- all i have to type is 'the holidays' and everyone gets what i am saying. i think for me everything is in perspective- or i try to get it there. holidays are supposed to be times of the year that are different than the daily grind- hence the routine shift. they are supposed to be joyful and celebratory- or solemn and reflective- depending on which side of the religious fence you sit on. i think many folks try too hard. we are not perfect beings but we have the clark griswold school of thought- of a 'good old fashioned family christmas' and things- well things go wrong. our families and realities don't measure up to our ideals and we are left disappointed and dreading the next round.
there was a time circa 1995 or so when i realized that my mother was a person. i had graduated college and moved back home for a bit to get a job and save some money- and i had to wait for mr. betmo to graduate- as he is a wee younger than me- shhh... don't tell his mom :) it was a strange realization because all of my life she had been my mom- and coming out of adolescence's self absorption- it was eye opening. i won't bore you with the details of those next couple of years- suffice to say they weren't real good. mr. betmo and i decided to buy an apartment house for mom and sister to live in near us- by that time it was evident my mom's health was going south. i have been blessed to have had the last 7 years to really get to see the mind behind the mom and my biggest accomplishment of my life to this point is that i have made her last years peaceful and happy. her health is rapidly deteriorating and i feel in my heart this is the last round of holidays.
whew! sorry for the heavy- but i guess my point is- idyllic holidays are not realistic. i know one person in my 'real' life who has those kind of norman rockwell holidays- everyone else has baggage. many folks don't have families to share holidays with. i worked with an older lady who was an only child and lost both of her elderly folks and her significant other within a year of each other. what the hell does she do? anyway, my holidays have always revolved around my mom- when we were younger, she did the shopping and the cooking and baking- and we played christmas music on the record player and watched parades and decorated. mom and i would stay up late making the turkey and listen to the music that no one else liked because it wasn't traditional. so- now we forge into new territory. my sister and i will have to figure out how we want our holidays to be after she is gone. but i know for me- they will always be happy times because anything else wouldn't seem right.
the bottom line- perspective. mr. betmo and i decided in the spirit of consuming less that we don't do gifts anymore. well, not entirely- we are only doing gifts for the kids in our lives. we are sharing ourselves and many, many cookies with the adults. we get together with friends to share a meal and the holiday- and then our own celebrations throughout the season. i will send packages out (i save up my sending out for once a year) and the littlest members of the betmo family will have something from uncle mr. betmo and aunt betmo for christmas. yes, it is legitimate to ask me why we still do christmas being athiests. mr. betmo's family is not. there are enough pagan elements intertwined in the yuletide season to secularize it- and there is nothing wrong with celebrating friends and family at this time. we don't do the church and decorations like we did when we were kids- but the traditions of giving and sharing are good ones to keep up.
wrapping up my novel- my first cuppa is almost gone :)- there is much beauty to be found in life yet. it takes work to find it- you can always find the ugly- but it is infinitely better for your soul to look for the beauty. this season is one of beauty and good will- if you make it so. forget about the consumerism and buying- take the time you would be shopping and wrapping and make cookies with the kids or have wine with a friend. those are the memories folks cherish. i can't tell you a single gift i remember from childhood- but i can tell you my favorite ornament for the tree and i can tell you about making cookies with my sister. trust me- we are all going to need good memories with us for sustenance for what lies ahead for us as a nation and as a planet. make those memories now. peace.