I normally love the holidays. Like, in a really over the top, cliché kind of way. I put up lights and decorations anywhere I can (within reason for a house with a toddler running around), as soon as I can. I will accept any excuse to have a festive bev – warm and wholesome or chilled and boozy, I do not discriminate. I crank up the holiday music as soon as it’s acceptable (Thanksgiving is my stance), and I plan out our month of holiday light tours as soon as festive events in DC are announced. I research recipes and bake as many cookies as I can, starting on December 1. In short, I am the Grinch’s nightmare.
But this year, I’m really struggling to create that holiday magic, as much as I want to, especially for our two-year-old son. I keep making plans to make our house and our holiday season feel festive, but then pushing them off, asking myself, does it really matter? I feel like I’m not alone in this though. For one, there is still a global pandemic raging. Even with a vaccine rolling out, we’re still so far from COVID being gone. And in doing our part to slow it down, we’re missing loved ones, our normal lives, and, depending on your situation, space to ourselves or human connection in any form. Secondly, we have an economy that is in the toilet thanks to said pandemic. While my family is doing OK, and we’re trying to do as much as we can so that others in our community are as well, it’s really hard to feel jolly when you know so many people are suffering. And third, we just came off a really rough election season, and while I am happy with the outcome, along with 80 million+ other folks, I don’t think anyone feels great about the lead up or the aftermath (which also is seemingly unending).
I’ve so rarely had holidays where I just wasn’t in the spirit that this really stands out to me. The only other years I felt like this were when I lived in Chicago and was at my getting-out-of-bed-is-hard lowest point depression wise. I remember commuting home from work on the bus, seeing everyone else full of cheer as the holidays approached, and just feeling nothing. I was so relieved to escape that feeling when I moved to DC (NB: changing cities doesn’t solve all of your problems, but sometimes a change of scenery really can help!) that when this feeling started creeping in this December, it was really noticeable. This year, thankfully, I don’t feel nothing, but I do feel tired, and worn down and disappointed that I feel this way, especially when I really want to make it special for our son (and selfishly, for me!).
I don’t really have a solution or a neat resolution to this blog post, but I figured I’m not the only one feeling this way. Are you struggling this holiday season or are you somehow full of your usual cheer? Are you doing anything to make it special, despite this year being extra weird?
PS- In the spirit of giving it the old college try when it comes to holiday cheer, and not ending on such a bummer note, I’ll leave you with my top seven favorite holiday songs, in no particular order. There are very few holiday songs that I don’t like, but these are the ones I never skip. Happy(ish) Holidays!
- “This Christmas”: will listen to pretty much any version
- “What Christmas Means To Me”: strong preference for the Stevie Wonder version, but John Legend’s is also acceptable
- “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: Darlene Love is the original and the best, but I also love The Eagles version
- “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”: this David Bowie and Bing Crosby song just checks all of my holiday song boxes. Also, please watch the entire cheesy skit from the 70s Christmas special to get the full effect.
- “O Holy Night”: any version by a powerhouse female vocalist. Partial to Christina Aguilera’s version, even if there are a few unnecessary runs in there.
- “Night of Silence/Silent Night”: my Catholic school choir kid is showing with this one, but it’s just so beautiful.
- “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”: Harry Connick Jr.’s version tops the list for me.