T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 33665
posted 12-06-2008 02:40 PM
It's that time of year again. For some people, the holidays hold special meaning, whether that meaning is bound in religion, tradition, or family. For others, it's just another month, lots of snow, traffic jams, cheesy decorations, and annoying music. Whatever you celebrate, whether it's St. Nicholas Day (which I just celebrated; hooray for finding candy in my shoes!), Bodhi Day, Eid al-adha, Virgin of Guadalupe, Santa Lucia Day, Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, or the winter solstice (if your holiday was overlooked, I'm very sorry; please don't take offense, but instead, fill us in on your holiday!), this time of year can certainly be pretty hectic. Often we find ourselves trying to navigate between new traditions and old, school/work and spending time with family, buying gifts and saving money, eating cookies and staying healthy and in-shape, spending time with our significant other(s) and spending time with our family. All of this navigation, however, can leave one feeling as lost as Christopher Columbus, and just as sea-sick.
So what conflicts do you have this year? Are you trying to figure out how to break it to your parents that you want to spend the holidays with your SO? Or are you trying to explain your traditions to your new roommate? Are you feeling saddened and not at all in the holiday spirit by the economic problems, or suffering from some yourself? Share your feelings and worries here, and maybe we can help one another out. I'll add my own problems this holiday season a little later, once some of you have had a chance to speak. One other thing I'd like to add is that if anyone is feeling very giving this year or like they have more than they need, this is a great time to start doing some volunteer work in your community. Homeless shelters often can use winter wear and food, and homes for the elderly can always use some visitors to read books or just keep their residents some company. Your local United Way, Red Cross, YMCA, and Salvation Army are great places to start giving your help or to ask about events in your area. This year, more people are in need of help, too, because of the downturning economy and job losses. Some of you might even see if you can get together a whole group of friends or family to go and do some volunteer work together. It's a great way to spend time together while giving back to the community and helping others.
Member # 28346
posted 12-08-2008 01:07 AM
Oh boy, I have such a love-hate thing with holidays. I have a two year old so I feel obligated to participate. After a disastrous Thanksgiving get together with my "family" I refuse to participate in that "holiday" anymore. I'm going to reclaim it for my son and I, it'll be see a movie and eat ice cream for breakfast day or something, we'll see.
Broke as usual here. One great thing about having a two year old is that people close to us, like grandparents, really appreciate his sweet little artwork as gifts. I'm working on a nice little portfolio of his (he is quite the artist! to mail to my big sister across the country. ) One suggestion I have to those of you who are as broke as me but want to give gifts: recipes in a jar! google it. They are pretty looking and you just add an egg or something to make lovely applesauce cake, brownies, cookies, what-have-you. I'd like to second the donating thing, charities are so in need of that this year especially. I just went through my son's barrels of toys and weeded out a few. There are some places that take used toys and refurbish them to give out to kids who wouldn't get toys otherwise.
Member # 25983
posted 12-08-2008 02:46 AM
I plan to spend my very first Joulu as the free-spirited atheist I wasn't allowed to be at home. I really resented having Christianity enforced on me everywhere and as a child, and put through the hell of pictures with Santa. In any other circumstances, lying to your children and making them sit on the lap of a strange man might be a form of child abuse, but for some reason, it's all A-OK once a year because it's a holiday!
I'll report back once I can compare holidays here vs. America. But from what I've seen thus far, people aren't as religious here, Joulu is spent with a quiet coffee and light feast with immediate family at home. Some people go to their vacation cabins to go sledding/have a Christmas sauna. Gift giving isn't as grandiose as in the states; pretty much everyone gets one moderately-priced, necessary gift, like a coffee maker, cashmere sweater, or nice toy/snow sled for kids. This suits me fine, as I really detest the "competitiveness" that's part of many Americans families to get each other the best and most presents, though I realize it varies. :) I feel a little guilty still not sending word to my folks home, but I really don't buy into Christmas being a time of magical forgiveness and friendship. I guess I'm unsentimental. :P
Member # 25425
posted 12-08-2008 04:16 AM
I started really disliking Christmas when I was around 13 or 14 and began to question religion. My family is Roman Catholic and it was certainly not okay for me to veer off into the direction of Atheism. The more pronounced my feelings became the more uncomfortable our Christmas celebrations were, and I spent a couple of them in my room, grounded.
Ever since I moved out, however, Christmas has started to mean something different to me. Before, it was simply another holiday I didn't believe in. Now, it's usually the first time since summer break that I visit my family, and I look forward to going home for a couple of weeks. The traditions aren't restrictive anymore, they're just part of 'family' and 'home' to me now. And there are some things I whole-heartedly embrace, such as cookies (I just made another batch yesterday, am sending some to friends and taking the rest to class with me later) and Christmas cards (I send them to friends and relatives I don't get to connect with throughout the year - it's a great way to keep in touch). This is also the fourth year that I am going to be cooking our three-course Christmas dinner, which I look forward to. Basically, I think my parents have accepted that I don't believe in any of the religious background of this holiday but appreciate the family together-ness and the traditions, and I've accepted that they do believe and cut down on the disparaging remarks that got me grounded as a teen.
Member # 5375
posted 12-08-2008 07:41 PM
This is the first year I've been unable to be with my family for the holidays, but if Thanksgiving is a reliable gauge I'm going to enjoy it.
Most holidays with my family involved rushing from one place to another, trying to see both my mom and my dad and their respective parents. That meant lots of driving and lots of chaos and was just plain stressful; I did that for years. This year I'm about 2000 miles away from my family and so are my roommates. Most of us had to work on Thanksgiving so we simply chose a more convenient day and had an elaborate dinner. I spend the entire day cooking with one of my roommates and then spent a relaxing evening at home eating and hanging out with our household. The only place I had to go all day was the grocery store and it was fabulous. I'm knitting most of this year's Christmas gifts and I'm finding it much easier than going to a mall and trying to guess what someone wants. I can even blame the post office if I get behind. All in all, this year should be far more relaxed than previous years so I'm actually looking forward to it.
Member # 32916
posted 12-10-2008 03:07 AM
For me, it's yet another Christmas spent alone. When I say alone, I don't mean family, they're there... both sides. Christmas has always been the same routine every year.
While there are a lot of family members around who I care for and who care for me just the same, I'm also 24 and I've never dated in my life. Everybody else around my age in the family has significant others around at Christmas and I'm always the odd one out who has to bear the brunt of endless questions from the older family members about why I haven't brought a girlfriend home yet. I can't talk to them about the social anxiety and depression I go through because they won't understand it. Now I'm not religious, so none of that aspect of the holidays means anything to me. I do appreciate the significance of it being a time of year to spend with family, friends and the ones you love. I'm just finding every Christmas tougher and tougher to handle as I keep going through these years unsuccessful in overcoming my anxieties and depression. (My 25th birthday in April is going to be hell.) The only small consolation is that I work in the retail industry and I can spend 50-60 hours a week at work. While I'm there, my mind is occupied for the most part, though I do get jealous when I see couples out doing their Christmas shopping. Aside from that, I do love my job, but it's low paying, so the rewards are minimal. That, and when I do work the long hours to help keep my mind off what bothers me, it also means I don't rest much and the stress levels go up. I can't wait for January.
Member # 28780
posted 12-10-2008 04:31 PM
It's a little hard for me to get into the holiday spirit, but I think that's because I get cynical about people being jerks to each other on the road, increased traffic in stores and everywhere else, the consumerism, etc. I was raised very Christian but after I left the church I stopped "celebrating" Christmas but I still have Christmas dinner with my family and stuff. I actually celebrate the Winter Solstice much more than Christmas. My ex-fiance and I have a tradition where we burn a Yule log on the night of the solstice. Last year we burned a piece of driftwood that we had collected on our vacation to the ocean which led to us remembering a lot of fun things about that trip. We also burn frankencense and myrrh in honor of the Sun and always save a bit of the burned log to include in next year's bonfire. My mom's side of the family has some major Pagan leanings, and honoring the seasons and the spirits of nature is right up my alley for my witchy self I am really broke this year since my company decided to switch our pay period all around like a week ago, so I'll probably be giving away a lot of my pottery I made this semester. My tiny apartment is starting to have pottery show up in very weird places.... I also always try to reflect on the past year and get reconnected with my long-term goals. I like to start the new year feeling really renewed and grounded.
Member # 43709
posted 11-14-2009 12:03 AM
I love Christmas. And Thanksgiving. I've been home once so far this semester, for a few days. I always thought of Thanksgiving as, Oh, well, okay, great. Now it's more like, YES! Haha. I'm so excited! And I can't WAIT for Christmas. Thanksgiving now means more than just the actual meal and the actual day. Now it means going out to traditional fall festivals, wiping noses, laughing at cold fingers and red cheeks. I get to be with my boyfriend and I'm soooo excited. One of the hugely negative things about going off to school is that that time in our relationship when we hung out every day and did things together in our hometown neighborhood is gone forever, which I never realized would happen so suddenly. Christmas will be wonderful because it'll be like it was, for a whole month.
I don't care so much exactly what it is I'm celebrating, or why, or care anything about the consumerism and all the stuff. I just like a chance to celebrate, and have the world celebrate along with me. I like a good excuse to buy nice gifts and receive some things as well. I like decorating a tree and walking outside in the cold with someone warm next to me. I miss it and I'm looking forward to these holidays!
Member # 38967
posted 12-19-2009 02:15 AM
My holiday conflict this year is a pretty awful one. It will be my first Christmas since my Mom passed away. And Christmas day is exactly 2 months since her death.
Member # 42492
posted 12-19-2009 08:12 AM
The hardest thing about the holidays is that while everyone else in my family loves them, my dad hates them. He complains about everything, and picks stupid fights with my mom a lot. She seems to think it's because everyone else has all kinds of stuff going on with work and school, and he feels left out, but he never wants to do anything anyway, so dunno...
The other thing that's going to be hard is money. It just so happens that my Christmas stuff, my car insurance, and my college tuition is all gonna be in the same month. I've tried to cut costs my doing homemade gifts, but it turns out art supplies add up too... I really can't wait to have a Christmas out of the house, out of school, and with a better job!!!
Member # 33665
posted 12-20-2009 06:25 PM
Hi Dolly. I'm very sorry about your mother's passing. Do you have anyone in-person you can talk to about it, be it a counselor, siblings, relatives, people who knew her? Were there any traditions you liked to do together with your mom on Christmas? Sometimes continuing those traditions with another loved one can feel like we are carrying on the memory of the person we've lost and feel like they are still with us in some small way. If there aren't any traditions, maybe you could start one to commemorate your mother, perhaps light a candle. Do any of those things feel comfortable to you? Who do you have around you to celebrate with this year?
atonement, I hear you on the money issue. What I decided to do this year was bake cookies for most of my siblings, since they live far away. It's a lot less costly, and it can feel like we are together in some way because we do a lot of baking when we are together for the holidays. You might also suggest celebrating with gifts after New Year's. I've found that my family is very understanding of the fact that I'm a college student and thus have less money to spend on gifts. The important part is to be there and be in a good mood, treat everyone kindly. I also like doing those functional gifts, like cleaning someone's room, house, etc. for them, which is often very appreciated because they don't have time to do it themselves and I'm very meticulous with my cleaning. Just a couple of things for you to consider. As for your father, I'm sorry he acts that way. Has anyone tried talking to him about it? Maybe something like, "Dad, it really hurts me when you complain about the holidays and pick fights with Mom. These times of year where everyone is together is very important to me, especially since we may not get to see each other as much in the future as everyone moves away and enters into long-term relationships. So could you please keep those complaints to yourself for a few days and focus on the positive part of it all?" Or something like that. Obviously you know your father and what he would respond to better. You might also have a relative talk to him with you so he sees that it's not just you that it hurts but a lot of people.