|For just 60 credits, this can be your fam xmas card stock photo.|
After 29 dreadful experiences with this festivus season, I've finally made peace with xmas.
Why is this "the most [dreadful] time of the year"? Because, the 'candid' portrait of my family doesn't look anything like this stock photo. Nor does my xmas look or sound anything like the picture-perfect, opulent images + joy-filled songs I am bombarded with everywhere I look + everywhere I go for three+ months leading up to this wretched day. Thanks for ruining everything good + nice, Advertising + Retail. And, Burl Ives, knock it off... seriously.
|Courtesy of these people|
I used to be really distraught over the disconnect between the Norman Rockwell ideal of xmas + the harsh reality of my life + family, which more accurately resembles The Simpsons (the early, good years) mashed up, at times, with The Grapes of Wrath.
|Courtesy of these people|
Here's the revelation that led to the peace: No one's family looks like that strange alien family from planet Dumb-Smilie-Head. What are they looking at anyway? In the current economic climate, many people don't have an abundance under the tree, either. (Wait... what tree?)
AND, that's okay... dare I even say, quite normal.
Merry Dysfunctional Xmas
I visited one of my bffs from high school last night. I haven't seen him in forever, but more importantly, I needed a mental health break from my own family.
I've come to the realization over the years that you can love people, but dislike them strongly at times as well... simultaneously. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it.
A friend told me recently that only the people that drive you raving mad are the ones you really love + care about. I completely agree, but it's probably also partly due to a lack of tolerance. The tolerance for crazy that I developed while growing up in the same crazy house with four other crazy people for 18+ years has severely diminished + atrophied after I moved away.
So, I heart my family, but I can only deal with them in small doses. When I start to feel off or the tiniest bit irritated, I go visit friends or I keep my visits limited to a day or so... before it gets out of control + I become an emotional mess.
When the going gets tough, the wise get the hell outta Dodge. But, keep in mind, they're still good people + I do like them. Mostly.
I escaped last night by having dinner number two with my friend's extended family. It's always easier to see the intricate dynamics of family by observing some else's. Throughout our conversations, I realized that it took us 10 years, but it seems we're both at peace with our families, as crazy as they are.
Through years of therapy + introspection, we know exactly how our families made us crazy, what we can do to account for our own brand of crazy + what things are just part of who we are, crazy or not... crazy just like our parents or not, that we now accept + embrace instead of deny + futility attempt to run away from.
It's not like either one of us are in any way finished with this journey of self-acceptance, family-acceptance + life-acceptance... but we've come a long way in dealing with all of it in more healthy ways. Ways that don't lead to or aggravate mental illness:)
Benefits of Being Poor
I grew up in a family of five that skimmed along the poverty live. Sometimes well below, sometimes a little above. Average of the ups + downs = we were poor.
In the 80s + 90s, one breadwinner was just barely enough for a family to survive. Today, I find myself in a similar situation, but more extreme where one breadwinner isn't enough to support self. And this is why we Occupy... but I digress.
There's a lot... I'll say it again for emphasis, A LOT that sucks about being poor. This Cracked article sums up the majority of it, 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor.
But, there are some very big benefits. Being in perpetual survival mode makes you really creative, resilient, resourceful + ingenious. How do you fix the washing machine when you can't afford a repair man? You figure it out + fix it yourself to function good enough... who needs the gentle cycle anyway?
Xmas is super simple + stress-free when you're poor, too. Well... if you allow it to be by accepting your plight. Note: acceptance doesn't mean that your plight is okay, but it does help you to at least get out of bed each day + function through it. If you haven't achieved acceptance yet, it does take lots of work, holidays are stressful for sure because there's never enough. Especially not enough to achieve any close resemblance to the abundant xmas we're sold to buy on TV or in stores. But then again, when you're poor, you realize how shallow + trite xmas is when it's just about buying a bunch of junk for people you don't even like.
I discovered a few years ago when I was making 'good money' as a designer + was still dirt poor that people really like handmade +/or baked presents. DIY gifts allow you to harness your resourceful creativity while eliminating the distress of trying to mind-read + accurately predict what someone will like, since we're pretty much beyond 'needs' in our modern society.
On Tuesday night, I simultaneously began + finished all my xmas preparation by baking poppyseed bread. I'm totes broke, but I had enough to buy some of the extra ingredients that I didn't already have in the pantry to make a simple but delicious present.
I sent two loaves home w/my bf to his family, gave one to my bf, gave one to my coworkers + brought five mini-loaves home for my mom, dad, two brothers + sister-in-law...
Yay for Cynicism!
So, if you find yourself today as a lone, desolate island of despair... surrounded by people you're supposed to love unconditionally but that are unlovable... in some airport terminal waiting for another flight to replace your canceled one... or your xmas is simply a Boston Market takeout box meal in front of the TV in your bare studio apartment...
I just want to remind you that your xmas is not out of the ordinary.
There's nothing wrong with non-traditional.
Besides, the traditional ideal of xmas is all BS anyway created by advertising, marketing + retail to feed the money hungry machine. Mrrry Crsssmsss!
I'll leave you with some actual heart-warming wisdom from my friend, Yuri, about a gift that everyone's got to give. It'll make everything better... I promise:
Smile doesn't cost anything but gives you everything. It makes people who've got it richer while doesn't make those who have presented it poorer. It lasts for a moment but sometimes stays in your memory forever. Nobody is that rich to live without it; while any poor will get richer from it.In the equally wise words of Keith Olbermann, congratulations on surviving another day of this crap. Teehee he... huh:/
It creates an atmosphere of happiness and warm kind-hearten feelings in a house and it serves as a password for friends. It is an inspiration for tired ones, a day light for those who are ready to give up, a sun light for sad ones, and the best antidote for unpleasant moments and troubles.
But even though you can not buy it or beg for it, you can not borrow it or steal it because it by itself worth nothing until you give it away! And the most awesome part of all of it is that the shining light of a smile that you present returns to you as a sparkling one!