Breaking Free from Christmas Traditions | Day 324 of my 2023 Journal
Remember how many movies you have seen where the general narrative is X will ruin Christmas unless the hero Y achieves Z, which seems impossible. You hold your breath, and by the end of the story, Christmas is saved, and we can all breathe out and sit down in the candle-lit living room with the beautiful fire to share a few of the home-cooked treats and a hot drink while laughing lovingly in our sweaters and cute red dresses. That, of course, just before we all enjoy a beautiful traditional meal of at least three courses around a beautifully decorated table, enjoying the perfect wine and the perfect food in happy anticipation of the singing and dancing and sharing of presents.
Christmas is saved.
Order is re-established.
All is as it is supposed to be and has always been.
And everyone is happy.
I just recorded Da Ladies Fixing the World, episode 6, where we fix Christmas. Or, well … spoiler alert: We did not, as such, fix Christmas.
I still hate it.
I hate the binding structures of the traditions holding us all down and under deep waters of hot wine with cinnamon, locking our attention on the consumption of particular foods and construction of decorated rooms, and deduction of unreal needs in everyone we know (so we can wrap something for the darn day). I hate the competition for the children's attention, the expectations of specific emotions and gestures and actions, and the reconstruction of a reality that was rarely real.
In my life, at least, it was rarely real. My home was broken. It was not driving home for Christmas; it was changing its location. It was not keeping traditions; it was fighting over traditions. It was not a happy reunion with a traditional meal but one more night of vomiting or living off mandarines, garnish, and wine. It was not so much feeling love as guilt, insufficient and ungrateful.
When I became a mom, it just got worse. Much worse.
I tried, I promise, but the short version is I ruined it. By hating it. By being stressed out by all the spoken and unspoken expectations of a highly ambitious culture, by the competition for the attention of my child, by my lack of bandwidth to create all the elements of Christmas: The music, the vibe, the cooking, the presents (handmade preferably), the decorations, the peace, the lights, the special traditions of only our family, the stories, the movies, the PREPARATIONS.
Preparation is not my thing, guys.
I plan with a pencil, remember.
I am in the NOW.
And the NOW.
How can I spend an entire month (or two) preparing for a single night when there is so much life to live? So much here and now? When Thai food is so NICE on December 22, and I want to listen to Nirvana and Keith Jarett all year round, I CAN NOT DO IT.
I think it would have been cool to be cooler. To just not give a fuck. If I had been cooler over the years, less affected by the whole thing, less ambitious, less emotional, and less broken, I would probably not have ruined Christmas.
But I did.
The invitations we did not know how to answer, and the ones we did not receive shouting their weird silence, the eyebrows going everywhere about everything: Our clothes, our contributions to the meals, our veto on rules on presents (as it is rules, I had to veto my “no” to everything to stay true to myself, not to suffocate), our pretty-please-pleas to modify the rules of Christmas, so we could survive the day unharmed.
It was just too much, and I ruined it.
I am still collecting the pieces of Christmas with my now older children, some of them technically adults, trying to assemble a little mosaic doable in whatever country and in no more than 24 hours to satisfy everyone. And I think recording a podcast FAILING to fix Christmas maybe was the first step to fix at least me. I ruined Christmas, and I am not going to fix it. I am going to keep traveling, keep holding on to my truth, staying in the love and the freedom and the here and now while trying not to give a fuck.
The only thing I genuinely appreciate about Christmas is Jesus himself. And all he brought to us: The light, the path, the love, the freedom. And because of that, I can still celebrate this special night waiting for the silence, the true peace that has - I will be honest - arrived every single year sometime around midnight or a few hours later. Sometimes, it has been helped along with a big fat Barolo or a perfect chilled Champagne. And for this Christmas, I am not going to prepare. At all. I will do my inner work and start working on living with the fact I broke it. I could have been cooler, I could have had more self-confidence, I could have been bolder. But I was pushed over until I fell several times, and then when I got tired of it, I fled the country, the context, the pressure.
Now, finally, we can have a merry Christmas. Just as merry as last Tuesday.
Thank you for reading
I would love to hear from you. Listen to your thoughts and reflections - or praise :) It is often emotional to share our lives like this, and we get very happy when we get your feedback. So feel free to share a comment below 😋
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