Christmas Commentary

copy-of-img_0980_edited-1-copy_edited-3Christmas Commentary

Many of us grew up celebrating Christmas, and some of us still celebrate. I often wonder how people feel about Christmas, once they have discovered its antithesis– loss, despair, alienation, anxiety, and grief. Yesterday my family celebrated Christmas without our dear patriarch, our leader, husband, and dear Papa. I was lucky. I got violently ill, with a severe flu, which put me in bed for forty-eight hours, thus exempting me from the affair.

Everyone knows that I ceased celebrating the religious aspect of Christmas twenty years ago, but I continued to enjoy the family gift exchange on Christmas Eve. None of us needs gifts at this stage in our lives, but the tradition evokes nostalgic memories of childhood, when Santa Claus came every year, wiggled down our chimney, quietly laid an abundance of gifts around the tree, and climbed back up the chimney so quietly that we never woke up to catch him in the act. If I could bring back any single day of my childhood, it would be Christmas morning.

We never knew anything of hunger, economic deprivation, abuse, crime or natural disaster in those days. We were blessed even more richly than we knew.

This year, I announced that I would no longer participate in the gift exchange.

My father loved Christmas. He would sing Christmas carols; his joy in the season inspired everyone to join in the song. Volume meant more  than melody; we wailed out the ancient tunes, ending up in tears of happiness and gratitude for another year that had passed with all of us still alive and well. My father was not religious, in the Christian sense of the word. Christmas for him, as for me, was an exercise in family bonding more than anything else, and it worked. It was a time for putting away problems, overlooking faults, and giving thanks for our blessings.  It was a time for indulging the sweet tooth, for baking special cookies and rich breads.  It was a time for adding sparkle and color to our home, with ribbons and wreaths and candles and cookies.

Choosing a Christmas present for someone in those days required a process of elimination, rather than a search for needle in a haystack. We all knew what each other wanted or needed. We didn’t have enough money to satisfy every desire all year round, so at Christmas time, our gift giving sounded like this:

Me: Mom really wants a new sweater for Christmas, but she won’t say so.
Sister: She’s been wanting a new blender for months.
Me: What about a purse? I know she’s been looking at purses lately.
Sister: OK, you buy the purse, and I’ll buy the blender. We’ll ask Pop to buy the sweater.

Now days, any one of us can buy anything anyone wants, and buy it better than anyone else. Now days, all the women are working, and no one has time for shopping, even though the selection and sales are better and better each year, such that one becomes dizzy from looking here and there, trying to take it all in. Christmas has become a time of stress and excess. For some of us, Christmas pokes at wounds that never fully heal. Christmas emphasizes our holes, where it once emphasized our unity.

It’s time to turn the clock way back on Christmas, back to indifference, back to the oblivion of infancy. This year I did it.


About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
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9 Responses to Christmas Commentary

  1. Aafke says:

    Christmas used to be very special for me and my family. As part of my family was very christian there defenitely was an emphasis on the religious aspect when the larger part of the family came together.

    I missed the time I came home a few days early, to discuss the food, and presents with my mother and go shopping together, for me it was a time of bonding, and I loved my parents very much.

    Now that I’ve lost them, all the christmas ”cheer” really made me feel much worse. And I felt very lonely. All my friends are with their family, and are not available.
    This year I did have a tree, and especially a lot of lights, and some friends for dinner, it did make me feel better this year.
    But I know I had to get through the bad years first…
    Some time it does get better marahm.

    Your pixel paintings are fascinating!

    PS. I love giving presents and any pretext will do for me 😉

  2. Aafke says:

    But I agree on the stress and excess. And the holes inside you that will never fully heal, you write it down so well….

    I’m sorry to read you have been so ill, I hope you will get well soon.

  3. Marahm says:

    Thanks, Aafke. Actually, I’m all better already; it was one of those intestinal bigs that thump you down good for a day or two and then leave you feeling better than ever.

    I thought about you Christmas Day, and I’ll always think about you on that day. Maybe one of these years, one of us can jump the pond and “celebrate” together!

  4. Marahm says:

    I’m glad you enjoy the digital art. I’ve gotten quite addicted, as you have seen.

  5. Rhysz says:

    Clouddragon, you stupid w*itch!^^ I worked my ass of this year to present at least a ‘passing’nice Christmas. I would like some credit for that even if it’s only for the interweb people.

    However, I feel the same way christmass at our home was so cool…… The ex’s parents couldn’t organize a decent party if their lives depended on it, UGH.

    I still feel Christmass is a festival of joy and happiness. We can celebrate that the darkest days are ending and that we can look forward to a new year of warmth, friends and oppertunities. And By giving presents (which is a bit redundant IMhO) we can show people how well we know them and how much we care about them.


  6. ~W~ says:

    I think as kids we have this innocent and optimistic view of the world and especially of times of celebration. When we grow older somehow worries and losses accumulate.
    And of course the world is changing and has become such a small village with news travelling fast that we not only have our own sad stories and worries but the sad stories and woories of the entire globe.
    I know how you miss your Papa, may God bless his soul.

  7. Solace says:

    I always wonder how other reverts are managing around Xmas time. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Marahm says:

    Great comments, Friends. Thanks!

  9. So sorry to hear that you’ve been sick, but glad you are better now and that it got you out of the festivities you would rather not participate in!
    To me, I have always downplayed the religious aspect, and the focus of Christmas was always more the spirit of the season – of spending time with the family, of giving, of remembering old friends that we sometimes forget during the year.
    I miss terribly my beloved and sentimental ornaments that I had collected over the years, the decorations, the lights, the cards, and, of course, my tree. I have nothing here- no sign of Christmas anywhere. No Christmas carols or music, no cooler weather, no Xmas specials on TV – hell, I even miss those annoying bell ringers collecting money outside Wal-Mart! I really don’t want to spend another Christmas here…
    Happy New Year, my friend.

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