I go overboard for every holiday.
I love it. I’m a Decorate-for-Christmas-the-Split-Second-After-Thanksgiving kinda girl. Every holiday, my home is filled with armfuls of handmade, tenderly arranged decorations. I walk into Target and promptly waste five minutes in the dollar section, cooing over cheap themed décor I’m not even going to buy.
I love a good celebration.
For most of my life, the object of this homage was Christmas. The twinkling lights. The hush of snow. The warm buttery scent of Christmas cookies. I loved Christmas. I still do, but lately, things have become more complicated.
Out of necessity I’m no-contact with one of my parents. The rest of my family, for whatever reason, chooses to ignore me completely on Christmas Day. They act like I don’t exist, even if I reach out on the day of, or days before to express a desire for connection. Due to the nature of my family system, once you’re no longer in the kingdom of the problem parent, you cease to exist. Once I step out of the fake smiles, the land of pretend, I seem to somehow cease to be a family member.
Because of this, Christmas has become dark. I’ve taken to traveling with my partner on Christmas day, trying to make joy out of a day that’s because fraught with grief and familial betrayal.
I’m not the only one. Christmas depression is a widely recognized phenomenon, and between the pressure to be happy and the excess of seeing our Grinch-like family, it’s no wonder.
If I can’t enjoy Christmas to its fullest, however, that leave my celebration-obsessed heart with nowhere to go. I need to cover things in glitter and listened to themed music. If not Christmas, what?
Lately, I’ve been concentrating that passion on Halloween. And do you know something?
It’s been fantastic.
Halloween is the holiday of young people. By nature, it’s about friends and parties and being a bit rebellious. It’s family-free for most of us, making it the perfect respite for family burnout. My conservative upbringing forbade Halloween in an “it’s evil” blanket statement, making it free of bad memories, FOMO, and guilt tugging at my heartstrings.
It’s a holiday. It comes with glitter and treats and decor and parties and glee. And it’s completely mine.
I’m going to continue to navigate the complexity of Christmas. One day, I will have a family of my own, and as a unit, we’ll try to navigate enjoying holiday cheer alongside our truest emotions. I will continue to love Christmas — pine needles, sparkling stars, and whispers of Silent Night.
In the meantime, it feels damn good to have a holiday that’s good for my heart and soul. Bring on the cackling lawn decorations, and pour me a pumpkin spice beer — everyone deserves a holiday they can enjoy in peace.