Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Purple

About a week ago, I was wearing a red sweater.  It didn’t have snowflakes or Santa on it, or even a fuzzy white trim around the edges.  It was just a red sweater that I’ve had for a while, and decided to wear that day.  Still, the response I got was “wow, you’re really getting into the holiday spirit early!”  Not really, I was just wearing a red sweater.

The other day, I was talking with someone who said he had the holiday blues.  He’s not alone in that; I know quite a few people who tend to get the blues around this time of year.  As television shows celebrate family moments and holiday cheer, many are reminded of what they have lost: jobs, relationships, even family members.  There may be happy memories of holidays past, but many get blue when thinking of the sad present or questionable future.

So … if red is the embodiment of the holiday spirit, and blue is the sadness waiting for the season to be over with, I guess you could say I’ve got the holiday purple

There’s nothing wrong and I’m not depressed.  I just don’t seem to be feeling very festive this year.  There’s so much to do, but a lot of it feels more like stuff I have to do, rather than stuff I want to do.  I’m not dreading the holidays, but I’m not looking forward to them like I have in previous years, either.  Is it really wrong to be ambivalent?

As I think about those feelings, I realize how much it doesn't sound like me.  Usually, I am all sunshine and happiness, so I’m the person you’d expect to see with snowmen and candy canes all through the month.  In previous years, I have been that person – decorating my home, my office (or cubicle), and my car, wearing festive clothes & jewelry, and even making (that’s right – making) token gifts for about a hundred or so coworkers and another couple hundred acquaintances.  I will never forget the response I got from one person: “how come she got that and all I got was this?”  And for a moment, I actually felt bad that “all [he] got was" a token gift that I spent hours creating.  Then someone asked what he gave me (nothing) ... and I didn't feel bad about what I gave him anymore.

Now I’m not suggesting that gift-giving must be equal in all areas, or that we shouldn’t give to those who don’t give others.  But to me, that moment represents so much of what’s wrong with this time of year (or really, what’s wrong with people!).  Instead of focusing on spending time with those we love and appreciating the little things that people around us do to spread joy, we focus on the gifts … and not in a good way.  Just recently, I heard a group of people complaining about gifts they had just received.  I’m sure they would have complained even more if they didn't receive those gifts.

Perhaps it really is better to give than to receive.  I know I’ve always loved seeing the expression on someone’s face when s/he opens a gift and sees the amount of care and thought I put into it.  I guess that’s what really makes the difference … but even that can get out of hand.  At holiday time, we have to get gifts for a large number of people, all at the same time.  That requires a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of thought – usually more than we really have to spare, and that makes this time of year very stressful and frustrating.

Just this afternoon, I tried to get some of my holiday shopping done.  I walked from booth to booth, store to store, and rack to rack, getting frustrated as I was unable to check anyone off my list.  Then I got stopped in my tracks as I saw one item.  I just knew that it was perfect – the person I want to give it to will love it.  I got a few other ideas for a few other people I adore, and I can’t wait to find those gifts, and to give them.  That’s the really great part of the holiday season, and it makes me smile to be back in that mood.

If only it could be that simple.  The problem is the obligation.  We have to get this number of presents for this number of people by that date.  When we have to do it, it doesn’t have the same emotional power as it does when we want to do it.  The warm & fuzzy feeling gets buried under the pile of pressure, and it all becomes an insurmountable holiday blur. 

I still need want to get a tree, and put up my menorah (better late than never?).  I’ve thought about saying “why bother?” but I love the smell of a real tree (something we didn't have growing up in a Jewish home) and the sparkle of the lights.  Besides, I need a place to put those %@#* gifts!

So … I don’t have the time, the money, or the energy to do what I’ve done in previous holiday seasons (I guess one good thing about being in a new place is that the new people don’t know to make that comparison).  I've got a lot to do, and I’ll be glad when it’s over.  But there are parts that I am looking forward to, too.  I’m not wearing red to show my holiday spirit, but I’m not totally blue, either.

I’ve got the holiday purple

**If you like what you read, tell a friend!  Actually, tell me too - post a comment below!!  If not, well ... I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!  


  1. Nothing beats having a decorated christmas tree lit up, all the other lights off, just standing in its beauty with someone you love. Everything else just fades away

  2. I think most people have a case of the holiday purple...happy and joyous and stressed and broke...LOL! Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukah!
    Love ya,

    Julie :)