Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Holiday ’10. This will take on various meanings to you all during this season, but to me and many of my close friends and family, this means the title to my annual CD! This year marks the 6th edition to the insert that you find in my/our holiday card. At this point I can’t remember how it started. I’m sure it was because I was either too poor to buy everyone Christmas presents or too bothered by the same, tiring Christmas music. Nonetheless the tradition was born. And it’s a hit! A huge hit! People get on the waiting list to get a copy each year!! (Or at least that is what I like to tell myself). This CD brings me great joy over the holiday season. I love searching iTunes and old Christmas collections looking for just the right songs that are fitting with my current holiday mood. I love the buzz that’s created even if it’s solely to humor me. It arrives in mailboxes and I hear the excitement. Newbies are thrilled with the extra something in the card. Veterans express their anticipation of sticking it in the CD player for the first listen (Did Mariah Carey make it again!? Please! Please! Please!). This year they will talk about the anticipation building while searching for their archaic CD player.

You see this CD has defined my place within all of this holiday chaos. It is my little piece of something that keeps me connected. I don’t bake. I don’t knit. I don’t have a lot of money for gifts. I don’t really like cold or snow. I hate crafts. I stopped believing in Santa about 25 years ago. I believe in all religions, subscribe to none. I don’t have kids. And for many holidays, I didn’t have a partner to share them with. Our family has done it’s best. We’re not your “traditional” family. There are a lot of divorces, we’re scattered all over the continent, and we have never had that set place to go and retreat. From time to time, we don’t like each other. We’ve had to include various partners of the moment, then extradite them. We have to rotate with this side of the family and that side of the family. So the messages of “Holly Jolly Christmas,” or “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” or “Frosty the Snowman” didn’t really seem to include me. I had to find my own way to make the holiday season my own!

Not feeling like you are included in the holiday season is like being excluded from The Mean Girls. Ugh. It stinks! (Even though you didn’t want to hang out with those stupid, mean girls anyway!) You may not jive with all of these old-school definitions of what the holidays are supposed to be. So don’t. Create your own. Who cares if you can’t provide presents for 6 hours of opening and then the kids look at you and ask, “Is that all!” Ungrateful little …

This is some of the most distressing time in the therapy world. Parents are crushed that they can’t afford to fill the day with presents. Unresolved issues with family members can trigger feelings of isolation and neglect and turmoil comes out of hibernation. Singles are in great despair that they are not with a partner (and often make desperate compromises to avoid battling the season alone). Conflicts with religion arise. And although we have made some progress, we, as a society still segregate. If you are at all an outcast then your Scarlett Letter stands out more than your ugly sweater.

Good news though! If you or your family don’t fit into the typical holiday traditions, this is your year. Define what the holiday season means to you (advice: try to stay away from words like “suck,” “boycott,” “hide,” etc). Be creative. Do something that fits you and represents your definition of the season. One of my most recent favorites from last year was the New Year’s card that I received after all of the craziness, sending warm sentiments for the new year. If you have only experienced a “traditional” holiday season, I challenge you to do something outside of the box. Try something different. Embrace the possibilities and open your mind to accepting the unknown (eggless egg nog, anyone?). Most importantly, embrace the right for others to create their own.

This year’s musical compilation is going to be a little bit different this year. Here’s a hint based on our definition: Seasons of Love. I hope the fans won’t be disappointed.