Post-Christmas syndrome

WriteOut of Her Mind by Kelly Waterhouse

Post-Christmas syndrome is a thing. I have it.

It’s the realization that the best holiday on the calendar is over. Just like that. Santa rushes in one night, dumps and runs, leaving chaos, dishes and crumbs. He’s like a long-lost relative who surprises you on Christmas Eve, only with much better gifts.

Somebody has to say it, though; Christmas vacation needs more naps. Lots more. Less running around. Less dishes. More mandatory still moments dispersed between hyper outbursts of silliness and joy. Also quiet reading time should be factored into the day’s events, so geeks like me can enjoy our new books in peace.

But for just a few days, the merriest of holidays was pretty great, wasn’t it? I sincerely hope Santa was generous to your family and that you took the time to be present amongst the presents. I hope the spirit of the season restored your faith in whatever grounds you. I can honestly say that Christmas 2018 did this for me. I am grateful to have spent this holiday time with my little family.

Maybe I’m maturing (highly unlikely), but I believe Christmas 2018 helped me settle some long held ideals of what Christmas was all about, and reminded me, yet again, what it isn’t about. Reflection is a good thing, especially when it allows you to let go of the things that no longer serve you, and makes way for what will.

As Christmas approached, I realized that I have long resisted it because the anticipation is too much. I get wrapped up in all the hype; presents and wish lists, budgets and schedules, and the dreaded party dresses requiring acrobat manoeuvres to squeeze into. It’s a lot.

Yet I always felt defective because I didn’t feel the joy of my friends who are happy holiday fanatics. I wasn’t organized or, forgive me, excited. It’s not that I didn’t love Christmas. I do. I really do. I just couldn’t handle the overwhelming lead-up to one day, because honestly, I felt I personally couldn’t live up to the expectations. Nor could I handle the merry to melancholy madness.

Ah, but this Christmas was different, because I approached it differently. Something fundamental changed in me this year. I appreciated the holiday in a way I hadn’t before. It came on the tail end of a year loaded with life lessons. I endured my share of losses, the occasional win and some timely reality checks, softened by beautiful moments and the love of good friends.

I can’t express what has taken place, nor pretend I handled it all with grace. More like trial and error. Whatever the transformations have been, though, I’m grateful for them all. I’m a work in progress.

Come Christmas, I didn’t resist the magic of the season. I embraced it. Time with my little family was enough. I know how blessed we are to be together and I made sure to appreciate it. We slowed down and played together. We made memories. We honoured the ghosts of Christmases past and created weird, wonderful traditions of our own. I let go of my own ridiculous expectations to make everything perfect and nobody noticed. Imagine that.

That’s my New Year’s goal: lower my personal standards. Join me, won’t you? Let’s all let go of the absurd ideals we cling to and embrace the raw beauty of our flawed reality.

That will make for an interesting new year. I will if you will.

WriteOut of Her Mind