Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Christmas That Taught Me How To Live

My life is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Except for the fact that Hallmark doesn’t really include sad love stories about girls who get ghosted and eat paleo chili for dinner every night in their line-up. But when it comes to finding Christmas spirit, I’m your gal.

A lot of people ask me why I love Christmas so much, and I never know how to answer them. The truth is, Christmas is actually the most boring part of the Christmas season. It’s my least favorite day of all. And not every Christmas season has been a good one for me.

One year I got lost in a religious shrine (I was a little kid and my mom LOST ME). I was wearing a bright yellow hat… and my mom lost me. Another year, I dealt with devastating loss. Another year, I had to have surgery, followed by pain medication and waking up to my best friend’s dog licking my face. Those weren’t great years.

But all-in-all, Christmas is a special time of year for me. It’s just so extra. And I’m pretty extra. It’s when the maximalist, optimistic side of me really gets to shine. Everything’s all sparkly and glittered up for the season. We’re forced to be more social. We’re allowed to drink more. We can start spending money on sequins and velvet that we’ll wear for only a month. It’s great!

That being said, I was a bit worried about this past Christmas season. For some reason, I was feeling anti-tradition and out of sorts. I didn’t feel like watching the same old movies I always used to watch… like The 12 Dates of Christmas starring Zack Morris. Obviously. I was sick of my 24-hour Christmas playlist. And by this year, I’d seen every single Hallmark Christmas movie so there was no joy in them anymore. (Just kidding, there’ll always be joy in them. Literally. In every movie at least one character is named Joy.)

I had also been a bit sad, and I was worried that it would take away from the magic of the season. So I had a choice: wallow in my own self-pity… or enjoy my favorite season in a different way.

So I made a decision to set my expectations really low and not overwhelm myself with holiday spirit and tradition. And you probably know where this is going, but by doing that - my Christmas spirit was better than ever!

In previous years, I would listen to Christmas music non-stop and watch nothing but Christmas movies every night in an attempt to FORCE Christmas. This year, I listened to my usual podcasts and audiobooks but sprinkled in holiday music whenever I felt like it. I ended up listening to whole albums at a time and finding new songs I loved. I slowly decorated throughout the season, adding little things here and there rather than taking everything out and blanketing my apartment all at once.

I also tried new potential traditions (if I feel like it), like having my sister and friend over to bake Christmas cookies. I went to Los Angeles and visited my friends where we drank cocktails and I walked his dog in 70-degree weather. I also continued watching Hallmark Christmas movies (and yes, I used the app to check off the ones I’d watched)... but I also kept up with other important shows like Vanderpump Rules and Scientology: The Aftermath.  

I was a season mixed with plans and downtime. Christmas-themed content and regular life. I never felt overwhelmed, my expectations were low, and I never felt that pang of sadness that soon it would all be over (which usually happens as soon as it begins) because I was being present. Maybe that’s the “present” that Jesus was talking about when he first talked to Santa Clause about bringing presents to children. That’s how the story went in the Bible, right?

The reason I love Christmas so much remains the same… it’s sparkly and pretty and festive and fun. But people tend to despise Christmas season because there is so much going on and complicated family relationships and whatnot. So, I decided to just calm the fuck down, lower my own expectations, be kinder to people and show lots of love to the people in my life in my own weird way. (Through baking them cookies and buying them sneakers, obviously.)

So, yeah, this Christmas ended up being a GREAT Christmas after all. I wore a Santa hat paired with a red plaid coat and a shirt that said, “What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man” with a picture of Santa on it. That is who I am. A Christmas Maximalist who brings the joy! But instead of waiting all year (and literally counting down the days) - I’m going to incorporate more of that spirit into my everyday life.

I’m going to live in the moment, lower my expectations, be kinder, wear whatever I want (no matter how EXTRA I am) and bring the God damn joy ALL YEAR ROUND!

But I’m still going to eat paleo chili every night. Because I feel like it. And it’s like, really good. It has squash in it! You love squash!

Ps. Remember that time my mom LOST ME in a RELIGIOUS SHRINE? There's so many things wrong with that statement!

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