I find national holidays and birthdays to be the most stressful time of year. I know I'm not alone in this, but my stress doesn't come from battling frantic shoppers on the high street, nor panicking about what to buy that cousin you don't-really-like-but-should-probably-buy-something-for-anyway. I didn't want to post this while people were feeling fiercely festive, as I feel people would look at their mince pies and hot cider and feel terribly sorry for me. I'm certainly not trying to rally up sympathy.
I was brought up at a Jehovah's Witness. I never used to celebrate Christmas, or Birthdays or Easter and certainly not Halloween, and so to me, it's a complete baffling minefield.
Why do people get so obsessive over such an expensive and extravagant holiday? What is eggnog anyway? Why is Santa so fat, and why aren't kids afraid of sitting on some strange man's knee?! Who or what is a Grinch!? Oh god, I give up!
As perhaps you can gather, I'm no longer a Jehovah's Witness and I stopped attending meetings when I was around 18 years old. (The reasons behind that are another story altogether and I'll happily answer any questions in a follow up post should you chose to ask them.) But this all means that I've been thrown into the world of holidays and celebrations and have no idea whatsoever what's going on.
I do get excited about Christmas time, as it's a beautiful time of year what with all the sparkly lights in town, everyone is somehow a bit happier and I get days off work. Win-win-win. I have no family traditions to bring with me, and unless I get invited out with friends, I still spend Christmas Day as though it's a regular Tuesday.
This year for example, I spent the day getting covered in paint as I decorated my new flat. Because of this complete lack of practice, or familiarity with the season, I get pretty stressed about who I'm supposed to be buying gifts for, and whether there's an unspoken price threshold according to whether you're close friends, family, colleagues etc. Do I have to send Christmas cards to people?
The one year I did spend the holiday with my Dad's side of the family, who were never Jehovah's Witnesses btw, I felt kinda lost, and bemused at how Christmas just seems to be an indoor picnic with a shiny tree in the corner and a Santa hat on the dog. Can't we do this any time of the year?! Why don't familys do this whole reunion thing more often if they love Christmas so much? Or does everyone secretly hate it, and just pretend so that they get more free stuff come Christmas morning?
I feel as though I'm slowly getting a grip on Christmas, and am really looking forward to being able to decorate my own place and do things my own way next year, whichever way that may be.
I will never get over how selfish this whole holiday seems though. I'm astounded when I hear people complain about not being given enough or having enough spent on them. I think it's cringe-worthyily cheeky when people demand things for Christmas and then expect to get them! I'm not saying that being brought up without any Holiday's where I was allowed to just ask for things I wanted has made me a less selfish or better person. But seriously guys, isn't Christmas a time to be THANKFUL for what you ALREADY HAVE? Am I missing the point here somewhere?
The other main thing I really don't understand are Birthdays. I never really paid attention to them in school, and I can't remember ever attending one that wasn't in the form of a pub crawl, and let's be honest, we'll have one of those just because it's Saturday. Are you supposed to throw your own party, or hope someone throws one for you? Is it sad to just invite people out for a meal, and isn't it awkward to just expect people to come out and want to celebrate YOUR birthday? How to you let people know it's going to be your birthday? Facebook is only so helpful, and all I can see are awkward, random exclamations of "It's my Birthday on the 18th" to work colleagues who will then think you're a little bit odd.
Personally, as much fun as Birthday's and Christmas can be - I'm looking forward to Easter where it's not a complete faux-pas to pretend it didn't happen, or you can just offer around a bag of mini-eggs and be done with it. Phew.
What did you enjoy most about your Christmas? Do you have any traditions that you've picked up? I'd seriously love to know!