Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Another Question: Why do I hate holidays? Alisha

Why is it that you are a scrooge about the holidays? (asked with a smile) I'm trying to remember a holiday that you didn't comment about looking forward to being over. :) 

 There is a short answer and a long answer to this question:

Short: I'm not a fun person.


Holidays, for the most part, are a bother for me. I like the family part, I like the days off part, and I like the opportunity to reflect on the focus of that holiday. All that's good and if that was all the holidays were, I would be as Bob Cratchit as the rest of all y'all. However, that seems to comprise about, oh, 5% of any given holiday. The rest of it is crap. 

Crap as in:

Decorations: Cost a lot of money, clutter up my house, take up space to store for the other 11 months of the year, break, don't match each other let alone my regular home decor, and are never quite right. They go out of style, they displace other things I would prefer to look at, and, let's face it, most of them are cheesy. I mean, really, how many black cat candle holders do you need? And would any of us CHOOSE to decorate our living room with fat men and snowflakes full time. No. If we WANTED to decorate our house that way, we would do it year round. So why bother with it for one month? And I don't even mind the basic decorating, like a christmas tree. Christmas trees are awesome. Unless they are real. They they are a nasty mess. But you can't JUST do a Christmas tree. You have to have stockings and froo-froo stuff all over the place. My living room ends up looking like a garage sale, and yet many of the things I put up have some sentimental meaning, so then I feel guilty for making squinty eyes at them all the time.

Money: Some of you don't believe me when I say this, but I am cheap. Yes, I will spend money on things, but I prefer to spend as little as possible on things that matter. Every time I go to pick out a gift for someone else I wonder if this will be important to them, or if it will end up at DI next summer. This holds for any holiday, not just Christmas. I work very hard to get the 'perfect' gift, but in all my years I think I've managed to do that, like, twice. So, I always feel like I'm wasting my money. And then, after the holiday passes, I'm certain that I should have gotten them THIS instead of THAT and if I were just a more in tune I'd have gotten it write the first time. There's also money on food, dishes, postage, all those things that add up quickly and manage to suck the fun out of most holidays for me. I have a budget, and it always gets blown when a holiday comes up, and I have to spend the next month recovering, which is why we have cheap dog food. Sorry Tex.

Pictures: I hate taking pictures. I really do. I love having them, but I hate taking them because in order to take the pictures, you have to step out of the moment. Rather than watch my child blow out candles, I'm taking shots, then going through them to delete the ones that don't work. If there are several people we want recorded, I will inevitably leave someone out. Then there's the added frustration of feeling like I'm making myself the center of attention. Everyone notices the person taking pictures, and either tries to look cute, or tries to avoid them. I would like to just enjoy the moment and not worry about preserving it, or worry about what my hair looks like, or how clean my kitchen is. Every holiday, however, it is requisite that the pictures get taken and since no one else thinks of doing it, I either step out of the moment and feel awkward and do it, or I don't do it and then regret having not captured the moment. It's yet one more source of stress.

Distraction: Probably the biggest reason I dislike all of the above entitles aspects of the holidays is that I do not have the attention span to give these things the time they need, and still get the 'point' of the holiday. Halloween should be a fun time with my kids where we read spooky stories, dress up and eat candy. Instead all the decorations, picture taking, and money take away from that for me to the point where I just want it over with. Same with Christmas, Easter, and the 4th of July. They are just too busy and after all the prep and planning are done, I'm burnt out. Again, I still enjoy the family time and I try to let myself remember the point of it all, but more often than not at the end of that day I'm so very glad it's over.

Perfectionism: I like things to be just right, and nothing ever is. For each holiday I tend to build up how I want things to be; the traditions I'd like to start, the closeness I'd like to have, the peace I'd like to feel. But the irony is I'm not very good at being in the moment, I'm usually thinking ahead (or taking pictures) and so I end up regretting how I spent my time, wishing I'd done better. I agree it's dumb and with this amazing insight I have, I should fix it. But I don't know how to do that, so I just keep trying a little at a time.

All that said, I do enjoy the actual holiday itself. I like to give gifts (and getting gifts doesn't suck either), I love seeing the kids light up with all the fun holiday stuff, I like fireworks (kinda), and New Year's kisses. I love the food and playing games. Those things are awesome and I do realize that without all the other crap, I wouldn't get those moments. So, for that reason, I guess it's all worth it, but the annoyances are still there, taunting me every few months. 

Won't I be a fun Grandma?

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It's all about food and hanging out with friends and family. Not much wrangling and decoration expectations. I wish they were all like that.

And, to be just a little more obnoxious, one of my favoritest things about Christmas are the cards. Both giving and receiving them. It makes no sense since they are a lot of work and quite a fair amount of money, but I love em and Lee and I fight about how long I can keep them up on the wall. So far I've got him convinced that taking them down before Valentine's Day is a sin.

So, Alisha, aren't you glad you asked? I bet you can't wait to spend a holiday with me now, can you :-)



Me again said...

I think you need to throw out what others think the holiday should mean and what you have to do and how you have to celebrate. Just chuck it out the window.

Now think about what you want the holiday to be. What do you want your family's focus to be.

Now make a list of how you want to accomplish that focus. And Do It! Don't decorate if you don't want to! Confine your decorations to one room of your house if you can. That's what I do.

As for family presents, in our family we pick names. And it can get tricky.

This year, I decided to share a little of our family with the family we had.

I took the budget and bought supplies for this other family to start or just experience the traditions of our family. (I was able to buy from Amazon and have it all shipped directly to them!!!!)

It was much more personal than my go to gift of a new family game, or a movie and popcorn.

As for pictures and wanting to share the moment instead of experiencing it through a lense - have you thought about buying a tripod for the camcorder? Or maybe giving the camera to a friend or older child who probably wouldn't mind?

Josi said...

Good advice, Me Again--if it were just up to me, I would redo everything to fit my tastes. But it's not. My kids want certain things, the schools, churches, etc require certain things and I guess I'm not ready to kick all of that to curb so I do the classy thing and whine about it :-). I do have a couple kids that will take pictures, I need to pawn it off on them more often :-)

Anna said...

My mother is the queen of decorating. She loves it.. maybe not the getting it out and putting it away parts. But she is organized and can get most holidays out and up within the day. Christmas does take her little longer.

I like decorating... but I don't have the room to store much. So we had a Christmas tree (fake) and a Christmas countdown. I pulled out two snowman decorations and a 3 Trees decoration. That was all that was put up. Even the stocking weren't hung. They just sat on the box next to the couch.

I didn't send Christmas cards. I did have a few "neighbor" gifts on hand to give to Visit teachers and home teachers. That was the extent of all the holiday hoopla we did.

Besides that it was just spent with family and friends. Driving around looking at lights. It was a fun holiday.

For Halloween - I am cheap. I don't want to buy costumes. So I make them (and I do enjoy creating and sewing). My 2 kids costumes cost $14 for material for both. The rest was just stuff we already had around the house helping out the costume.

Just sharing a few more ideas about just simplifying it. If I had the time and money, I might do more. But I do what I can and what I want to do.


C. Michelle Jefferies said...

Ah Josi, your my new idol and friend. I am a total scrooge and for most of the same reasons you are. My bigest reason is flat out the stress of the whole month. I hate that as soon as Thanksgiving is over it becomes a mad house. This year was particularly stressfull and right at the holidays. Horrible timing. It was so bad even my listen to Christmas music on Jan 1st loving Christmas husband was too steressed to enjoy it.

Stephanie Black said...

Wow--I had no idea I was supposed to be stressing out about all that stuff. Decorations are supposed to MATCH? And they can go out of style? Why didn't someone tell me? :)

Carolyn V. said...

Holidays are a stress. Almost all of my friends this year couldn't wait until Christmas was over. Hopefully this year will bring in stress-free fun holiday seasons. Fingers crossed.

Tristi Pinkston said...

It is way goofy, the way we do things because it's expected. I sometimes wish I lived out in the country, twenty-five miles from my nearest neighbor, so I could do everything the way I wanted without thinking of society's expectations.

L.T. Elliot said...

To me, it just sounds like you have your priorites right. It's so easy to get caught up in the mess of it all. It's much better to just love the togetherness and the memories--and those things, they're cheap. It's one of my biggest beef's with the holiday's too. I just want simple. Together. Fun. I usually end up with: Chaos, bickering, drama, and exhaustion. Plus, a blown budget. Oh, how I hear you.

Heather Moore said...

Agreed with the others. We need to take control of the holidays, and not let it control us.

We went over to a neighbor's house and my son said, "Why doesn't our tree look like THAT?"

Uh, um . . . because I let my 12 year old do all the decorating. She loves it and I love it!

Kimberly Job said...

I agree with Tristi. It's silly to let assumed expectations of others control our lives. Especially when they are so worried about looking good themselves. Who really cares?

Karlene said...

I love Christmas cards too. I tape them up on the back of my front door. Last year, I didn't take them down until June. :)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I must be odd woman out. I love decorating for Christmas. My house comes alive. I wish I could keep it that way all year. I know, I'm strange. Every year after Christmas is over my house looks bare, lifeless. I'm with you about the other stresses of the season. Next year my motto: Keep it simple.

alisha said...

How rude of me - I ask a question and then take forever to comment. :)

Yeah right you're not a fun person. Whatev.

I agree with a lot of what you said. I only decorate for Christmas and not any other holiday - and maybe for that reason I LOVE decorating for Christmas. I, in fact, do love my snowmen. :) However, I don't feel bad that I'm not decorated any other time of the year...even when the kids ask when are we going to have all our halloween decorations like our neighbors. My response: probably never! For me it isn't worth it either.

Money - you already know that I'm a cheap-o too. That's probably part of the reason I don't decorate for other holidays - and because I'm too lazy to keep up with changing it.

As far as pictures - I love them and I don't mind taking them...but I do know what you mean about having to step out of the moment.

I'm totally in agreement that so many of the "extras" take away from the real spirit of the holidays - mostly Christmas and Easter I guess. This is something that I have an issue with every year - maybe one day I'll figure out how to change that.

But I guess the difference is that I don't see that as 95% and the good parts as only 5%. Maybe I keep my expectations low as far as the "extras" are concerned since I know it is just not worth the effort to me.

I agree with LT Elliot - you do have your priorities right...so just enjoy those parts MORE! Easier said than done, right? I will still love you even if your house isn't decorated or things aren't just perfect. :)

Also agreed on the Christmas cards - I was totally feeling bummed and lame when we didn't get any out this year. I felt so much better when we decided to do a New Year's card instead.

How's that for a novel response?

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...


My thoughts exactly. So exactly I'm a little creeped out and am going to edge away quietly...

Julie Wright said...

I love Christmas but I would rather shoot myself in the head than decorate for anything else. I do have to decorate the store for halloween and it makes me sooooo grumpy!