The year has been busy being cruel to the world and it felt detached from me for the most part. But detached in a rather comfortable way that it left me to be without putting much pressure on what I should be next. I’m a planner, so living in the now is a fleeting state if I’m not at my best. This 2016, I let myself be taken by my usual diligence and determination in as much influence as my whims and thoughts. Only an introvert can fully appreciate the wholeness of self that comes with being at peace with her thoughts. And it was just a proper send off to 2016 to celebrate the Holidays in the same way.
"only an introvert can fully apprecate the wholeness of self that comes with being at peace with her thoughts."
Holidays in this family is no different from any other family. The days leading to it revolved around gifts and food preparations. I grew up expecting my siblings and Mom’s relatives on Christmas Eve. We would have games, exchange gifts and dine over a feast that my Mom and sisters spent the whole day making. The whole affair gave the Holidays life with laughter and pleasantries. But the best part was visiting my Dad’s side of the family a day after Christmas.
Year after year the tradition became an obligation. The kids grew older and only played games for the sake of my Mom. Some of her relatives only came over because they knew they would be given gifts or money. Everyone anticipated which of her brothers, who wound up in trouble, would have the audacity to show up. Those who have started their own families preferred to spend Christmas in their own homes or with the in-laws. These changes happened gradually and I can’t say I’m completely saddened by it. If I wanted the tradition to continue, I would have done my part; losing the Holiday tradition that brought stress to our otherwise quiet home was a welcome change.
It made me realize why I looked forward to visits to my Dad’s relatives. It was peaceful, there were no pressures to “have fun”. You simply catch up over dinner and alcohol, share your plans for the following year, watched TV, play with the pets, open gifts, share giveaways and other things you hardly used and reminisced about fond memories of the past. No one is reprimanded for the absence or simplicity of gifts. There was respect for your own decisions (of course your absence meant they can talk about you). This part of the Holidays is short and simple but you leave relaxed, satisfied and genuinely happy that you are part of this family.
"this is the first peaceful christmas we are ever going to have and we are going to take it."
That was then. This year, as my Mom leaves to spend the Holidays with her family abroad, my Dad and I made an unforced unanimous decision to spend our Christmas in peace at home with occasional visits from the carollers and no one else. In an occasion where you are expected to be with big groups of people, we went the other way and the outpour of “concern” and “pity” was so overwhelming that it turned from care to annoyance. What my Dad and I had in mind was flawless – Christmas meals from my Aunt, a dish from one of our favorite restaurants, beer, wine, TV, Christmas tree. But people are shocked to hear that it was just going to be the two of us and urged us to invite my siblings’ family or for us to go elsewhere to have fun. It took several stern responses for them stop until this finally took it: No, we prefer this. This is the first peaceful Christmas we will have and we are going to take it.
So on Christmas Eve, we went out to the usual malls, did some shopping, went home to watch crime shows (a family favorite), had dinner, drank, went to our own rooms to watch more TV or play computer games then slept. It was quiet, peaceful, in our control, relaxed, unpretentious. Throughout the day we discussed friends and work, complained about wrong decisions of some in the family and talked about our personal plans. That day I had the longest and most sincere adult conversations I have ever had with my Dad. I ended that day with that heart-warming goose bumps-filled feeling you get after watching a family film about Christmas. I wonder, when was the last time you had that feeling about your life?
"the point is to allow yourself to have time for you."
In this country, celebrating the Holidays starts in October just when the rest of the world are still anticipating it. People flock to malls for shopping deals with their Christmas bonuses and credit card “pay next year” promos. Various professional groups and friends come together for reunions, parties and year-end celebrations almost every other day. Even then, I hear so many people say how quickly the Holidays (and their vacation) came and went. To me, it isn’t mind-boggling how time during the Holidays came by so quickly because to me it doesn’t.
The difference in the feeling has to do with spending or not spending time at peace with ourselves. For some, it only takes a few hours while others need days. No matter how long it takes, the point is to allow yourself to have time for you – for the things you truly want to do, no matter how trivial or complex it is and whether on your own or in the company others. The point is to make time for yourself to give thought to the year that was, to where and when you are in your life and to what you want and can do for the next year. Mixed with our family Holiday traditions, it may be difficult to find time and courage to do these. If you don’t want to find yourself shocked that the Holidays are over and you are back to your hectic routines of adult life, make time. Make time. Make time for yourself in the same way you make time for everything else this Christmas because at the end of the day, what sustains and breaks you, is YOU.
"make time. make time for yourself in the same way you make time for everything else this christmas."
New Year is merely two nights away and I won’t be celebrating it in the same way as I did Christmas, but I will survive it in the company of my Dad while I complete a career milestone over a glass of wine. I’m rarely superstitious but I have a strong feeling that this is a metaphor for what I will face the coming year. This 2017 may not be as kind to my own time and thoughts like the last, but I am certain and excited that it will be filled with welcome changes. Succumbing to my introverted self during the Holidays has recharged and motivated me to be present in the now of 2017 and I am prepared to be more attached to its every day more than I ever had in the past years.
You still have time to make time for yourself before 2017 really kicks in. Happy New Year everyone!
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