Death and the Holidays
Ignoring the holidays is like the feeling one must get when their death is imminent. Not when they first heard that their headaches were caused by a malignant brain tumour, but later after they have made peace with their lot.
If you have ever had a loved one diagnosed with something terminal, or perhaps you have yourself, then you know the stages of emotions. First there is upset, perhaps some anger, throw in a little denial, dredge up some good depression, and finally acceptance. It is at the acceptance stage where you can find comfort, peace, and best of all, exquisite, graceful detachment.
In that stage, you can see and feel things with the ease of Jesus, you have a feeling knowing finality. Things fall into place clearly, events unfold slowly and beautifully, you feel the purpose and perfection of each upcoming moment.
You have sadness, you have remorse, and you have timeless memories that warm your heart for eternity. You are pulled out of day to day existence to feel the heartbeat of the universe itself, the march toward ultimate personal finality. You have accepted fate, and with that you lose the necessity to impose your will.
The holiday season is lifetime magnified. You have the crush of time, the overwhelming list of necessary tasks, and the pressure of making unique impressions with your dress, your wit and your gifts. Events clog your non-work hours that are supposed to be enjoyable, but feel obligatory. As each day passes the big day nears, and you feel the panic of incompleteness.
You scratch things off your to-do lists that are optional, most likely the ones that are meaningful too. And you are left with the have-tos, always left with the have-tos. Have to buy the children the perfect gifts, the boss that bottle of booze. Have to go over to the right parties, the right dinners, decorate your house in the right way. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Wait that is a different have-to, they come at you so fast confusion is inevitable. All the right appearances need to be made, your specialties cooked, mixed or baked, and that forced joviality needs to be made natural. Kisses, hugs, slaps on the back, need to be genuine. If you fake it long enough you will feel it.
Every year this rehearsed routine and then you die. Sure your role changes. You were once a child full of wonder, at the beauty of the lights, the tree, and the carols. The unbelievable bounty of presents. Then you grew, and the presents were never enough, you tear through each one wondering where the good ones were.
The other stuff, was all for kids, kids and old people. Then you had kids, and that one perfect holiday, where the kids didn't have expectations, just joy, you loved your spouse, you loved your parents, you loved the very day itself. After that year, your kids had expectations; they ripped through their presents looking for the next one.
Your spouse didn't think you helped enough; your gift wasn't thoughtful enough, your parents judged too much. As your career grew your holiday have-tos grew too. The list of people on your list grew, your gifts became one size fits all, and you didn't care, you hired it out and just paid the American Express bill. .
And then one year you just stopped, like death itself. You didn't go to office parties; you didn't need to offer an excuse. You didn't buy the perfect tree, you didn't buy any tree. You didn't even get the decorations down from the attic. You declined invitations; you didn't even say Happy Holidays.
In that death to the holiday season, you are alive, but you are exquisitely detached. You recognize the holidays and you feel at peace, the true peace of withdrawing. Life without need, days without insincerity.
Like the terminally ill, you can live your days without guilt, explanation, or have-tos. You have chosen to live outside the living, and life there is full of aloneness and grace.
About the author:
Mac McMann writes from the male point of view at http://www.manslant.com