I stopped celebrating Christmas the year after my divorce.
I don’t consider myself to be a Christian… so, why was I putting up a tree, covering it with shiny stuff and going broke over those gifts that people want, but don’t really need? Why? Because that’s what people do…. it’s December. It’s the Season of Giving. You’re supposed to… … … But what does all that have to do with Jesus? I found myself questioning a lot of things… and the holidays, I realized, were just more of those festivities which I participated in simply because I thought I was supposed to- kinda like getting married. And how dumb was that?!
And what does this have to do with Divorce? Well, the holidays are stressful for everyone- but they are especially difficult for anyone enduring a familial upheaval. I have a lot of books about divorce– I could probably open a specialized library (and I’ve considered it)– a common theme in those books is to Develop New Traditions. The tactic is one suggested to help children, in particular, deal with the Big Change because they often derive a sense of security from routines and customs. The experts say that in order to help kids deal with the loss of an old tradition, you should start new ones. What a great idea- sign me up for that one, too!
So, I’ve started my own traditions. Who says it takes a dead tree erected in an unnatural location to make someone happy and spiritual, anyway? No more trees in my house… no more carols in my stereo… no more icicle lights… no more bells on the door… and the only stockings in my house are the ones I wear on my feet (preferably containing superfun designs like monkeys or dog bones or Grumpy Bear).
For the past few years, I’ve gone hiking on Christmas Day. And it’s completely appropriate because I have a more acute sense of that otherwise-referred-to-as-Christmas-Spirit in nature than I ever have at any church.
And I’ve evolved into a spontaneous gift giver- no more obligatory Santa-clad Christmas offerings. I now purchase- and present- year round. “While on my snowboarding trip, I stopped in a gift shop and this made me think of you….” This, I feel, makes more sense than doing a mad rush to Walmart to stock up on gift box sets of various themes. (oh, but I did get one of those once and it had Oreos in it and that was rather awesome)
I still have family members that do those other things, and I still participate in their traditions if I’m invited. Small and practical gifts only, though. Lottery tickets and bottles of wine…
This year, I received an early Christmas gift: it was an assortment of tree ornaments, each one containing the name of either me, my boyfriend (anyone have a more mature word, here? i always feel so juvenile when i have to identify him by that label) or one of his children. The BF and I have decided that we’ll pack the ornaments along with some hot chocolate, then we’ll trek into the woods with the kids and hang the ornaments on a living tree while we hang out and bond. Then we’ll pack up it all up again before returning to Commercialization- I mean, “civilization” 😉
I traded those sacred vows for some very realistic eyeglasses… and I’m quite pleased my new vision.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson