If you’re a woman in the midlife shift, you’re often overwhelmed. Then comes the holiday frenzy, tearing us away from the natural flow of winter, when we crave extra sleep and quiet. While we may enjoy aspects of the holidays, the demands of gifting and socializing can knock us off balance and turn us into raving bitches.
Are you pissed at the commercialism? Do you resent the material excesses of our culture, and how our holidays feed that? Do you rebel against the expectation of things you should do? Where’s the joy, Charlie Brown? The win-win?
I got there, after a nice little meltdown.
Every year we send homemade gifts to out-of-town family, as well as presents or gift cards to all the nieces and nephews and my husband’s siblings. It’s a lot. I love making the homemade jam and biscotti, but then we have to figure out what other gifts are needed and what we can afford. We don’t always agree and since we’re not working much, this year it’s been extra tough to navigate.
I truly resent the idea that we must give a certain value amount to everybody. The message? $$ GIFT = LOVE. If we don’t give enough, we don’t love enough.
I’m not buying it. That makes me a Scrooge, a Grinch (a bad person). Generosity from the heart feels great, but love can be expressed in so many other ways besides a dollar value. Especially in hard times. The pressure to keep up with this standard feels unholy.
Midlife is a time of questioning old ways. It’s about searching heart, soul and mind with a big industrial flashlight. To uncover the truth. And to change old patterns that keep us from our ‘muchness.’
So I took some time alone to let my emotions rip. Had a real tantrum. Stomped around, kicking some Christmas ass. Heard the conflicting voices in my head, then let the Wise One sort out the takeaways.
- Miser frowns at the bottom line. “Hey, what’s up with the dolla dolla amount? Can’t we get a deal?”
Wise one says, “Thrift is the new black. But don’t spend hours on Ebay scrounging for screaming deals that don’t exist.”
- Rebel is ready to bolt. “Who the F are they – society, tradition – to tell us what to do?”
Wise one says, “Hmm, but really it is our choice, to give or not to give…right?”
- Good Girl wrings her hands. “But if we don’t send something good enough, they’ll know we’re not a good person. We will not be loved.”
Wise one says, “We’re human, not a good person, ha ha! They’ll probably still love us.”
- The Queen grits her teeth. “I’m in control. Maintain strict cost measures. Ship it. NOW.”
Wise one says, “Ok, but that’s a lotta pressure. And where’s the spirit of giving?”
After releasing all this noise, it came to me. I can hate the expectation, the cultural norm, but love the people. So I decided: this is my last MANDATORY Christmas. I’m done with filling “orders.” No more proving I’m a good person. I’ll give what is genuine, dollar bills or a song or a heartfelt letter…
I feel lighter, and paradoxically, MORE giving. Because I’m called to show love and gratitude to the people in my life 365 days a year. I’ll do it in ways that reflect my best gifts. And next Christmas? It’s wide open.
If you’re feeling blue or even black about the Holidays, you’re not the only one. Schedule your own little meltdown. Take some alone time, or with someone you trust. Close the door. Speak the unspeakable, the awful things you tell yourself. Give voice to your anger and fears, but DON’T BELIEVE IT – just let it out. Be gentle with yourself. Listen for different voices. Hear them, so the one inside you can respond with the Truth. Let me know if you feel lighter.