Why questions are not helpful. If you ask someone why they did something, their stock answer is often "I don't know". In order to find out why we do certain things, or why something happened or why something is important to us we have to tap into our own private search engine and dig down deep to discern some useful answers. This kind of personal search process can take a very long time. I find it more useful to go with the investigative questions used by journalists; who, what, where and when. Investigative questions seem to bring action into life more quickly by developing story lines that fill in the gap, giving meaning to situations in a more timely manner.
Yet, even though I know this to be true, I find myself asking why the Christmas holidays are so important to me, why is it so hard to let go of certain traditions, why do I yearn for lost or broken relationships this time of year? Why does it bother me that the kids aren't that interested in decorating the Christmas tree? One easy answer is that the media images of what the Christmas holidays are supposed to look like have been into seared into me like the comforting warmth of the sun on a hot summer day. Another possible answer is that the younger parts of me are still clinging to some idealized version of the perfect family holiday. Another contender is the cultural shaping I endure as a woman that puts me in the driver's seat of the magic bus that creates tradition and continuity for the family. There are probably many more variables that contribute to the why disease.
This year, louder than ever, I can hear the rumblings of Bah! Humbug!. So what if I don't make the usual stuffed shells smothered in spaghetti sauce that has cooked all day, filling the house with a smell that speaks of love and connection? So what if I don't make three or four different kinds of chocolate truffles, that the Gkidz don't eat anyway? So what if there aren't an even number of gifts for each kid? So what if we don't have a big sit-down Christmas feast?
My Bah! Humbug! voice is the herald of more change. What do I want out of the holidays? So here at last come the investigative questions. Truth be told, I want to know that the kids appreciate all the effort that goes into making the holidays special. I want to be more included in the adult kid's lives. I want to know them as people. I want to let go of some of my 'understanding nature' and be a bit more selfish. I want the kids to be a bit less selfish. I want to feel as important as video games. I want extended family to get along. I want the feeling of what Christmas is supposed to be to last all year. I want a Christmas year, not a Christmas day. I want meaningful connections. I want peace. I want love. I want this for everyone.
So, the reality is that the tree is decorated and looks awesome. Some but not all of the Christmas decorations are displayed and look great. The tree is overflowing with gifts. Treats are being made. We'll have a nice Christmas lunch buffet and play Pictionary and Cranium Family.
I will let go of certain traditions this year and see what difference it makes for me and others. I will learn what is important for me and perhaps other family members will learn what is most important for them. It feels a little sad. It feels right. It feels less hectic.
Happy Holidays to you all! And, may you find your personal holiday center just a bit more this year.