Today, a guest post by the lovely Andrea Martinez…
I’ve never been partial to Christmas. When I was a kid, I loved waking up early and opening gifts (who doesn’t), but the melancholy always set in by mid-morning. I was too young to identify it, let alone understand it, but I knew that I didn’t feel good. The party was over, the wrapping paper was already trashed and that was sad to me. The songs leading up to the morning didn’t help either, since the idea of a world in peril saved by the birth of a child was too overwhelming for me. And when I was old enough to get the lyrics to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – specifically the Frank Sinatra version – I cried, or at least regularly blinked back an eyeful of tears. It was just sad. All of it.
As an adult living away from home, I spent Christmas day with friends and their family, but I always returned to my apartment alone with a box full of leftovers and only slightly buzzed. An amusing series of memories to have, but blue nonetheless. One Christmas, I had a serious boyfriend and I thought how adult it would be to go to midnight mass (we weren’t catholic), come home, open a gift and stay up late talking. Nope. We weren’t adults, it felt forced, and as usual, sad.
But, I can’t say that my “Christmas Spirit” is defined any differently than yours. I celebrate as one does – festive meals, late nights out, drinks. I even sing along to Christmas carols, on the verge of tears usually, but singing is singing, no? I buy practical strangers (here’s looking at you, random co-workers) inoffensive-cheeky gifts for a white elephant party. And through those activities I accept that there is something different about these days. I suppose that acceptance means that I’m connected to the greater We, if only because We go through this thing together. We are sharing the passing of time, We are laughing at group shenanigans, We are breaking the last Christmas cookie in half. Yes, I’m part of the We, but I am still…bummed.
My mom, the kindest person I know, will give a small gift to everyone she knows this Christmas, just like all the Christmases before. Not because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but because she wants to make sure that everyone feels remembered. She recognizes that people are forgotten. It’s that sentiment that brings on the melancholy. Where she can take that bit of understanding and make it better for someone, I sit and think on it. For a whole season.
The one thing, and maybe the only thing that makes it better is the idea that I am not alone with this feeling. I am not the only person who finds Christmas to be a bipolar holiday, extreme in its fluctuation between merriment and heartbreak. And in the same way that I sit through the entire ASPCA commercial because I need to acknowledge the suffering before I can help, I need to feel the full extent of Christmas melancholy before I can change it.
Andrea Martinez is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and currently lives in Dallas with her rescue dog Ulysses. She dabbles in a little of this and a little of that.