When I was a child, I did not understand how anyone could possibly be depressed during this happy and gleeful time of year. Out of town family buys you presents. Santa comes. The streets are filled with twinkling lights and there is talk of being loving and giving. All things that are seemingly NOT depressing. As an adult, I find myself fighting the downward spiral to that depression and start to see how much work the adults had put in to make the holidays a magical time for us ignorant children.
The first step on that journey was learning that Santa isn't real. I distinctly recall honestly believing the myth, honestly believing the guy at the mall was really him, and honestly believing my mom was a part time elf (that was her answer when I'd asked her why Santa had the same handwriting as she did). The next step down happened somewhere in the teen era, when the gifts from the out of town family became more and more generic, candles and trinket boxes galore. I don't think I actually purchased a candle until I was twenty-three because of all the leftovers from the teen Christmases (no offense to out of town family, I always appreciated the thought and I know it was due to our lack of closeness). Then later I realized all this talk of giving has more to do with keeping our precious economy afloat...sort of like how banks "help" us get homes by charging interest. Stores tell us we are "giving" when we are really "spending."
This year going into public has been a grand challenge. Ever since the night before Thanksgiving when I ventured into a liquor store to purchase wine for our family gathering. No one smiled, no one was happy, and it was basically a large mosh pit with shopping carts (thank God I've never needed a shopping cart in a liquor store, but that's another blog entirely). Ever since that night, going into public has sparked a terrible illness inside my stomach, whether it's to a resturant or just to the local store. Stopping at the gas station has been annoying. Driving down the street has been annoying. I feel like everyone is feigning joy when really we are all just irritated. Or at least, I am just irritated and can't even bring myself to feign joy. I feel like I am simply wading through it all, not feeling a thing other than this irritation, and like there is nothing really different about these days leading up to Christmas than any other winter day.
Around noon today I woke up from my hibernation and realized today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. I have spent the last two days hibernating, watching movies, and avoiding public places, and suddenly this abberent behavior made a little more sense to me. Of course I'm hibernating, I'm supposed to! Maybe tomorrow I will miraculously have more tolerance for the crowds and the will power to leave the house. I hope so--I still have at least two gifts to buy!