In general, I dislike holidays.
Most people, upon hearing/reading that, immediately seem to picture me drowning kittens and eating babies. I assure you, I am not a monster.
Actually, upon further reflection, I tend to neither like nor dislike holidays. Many of them I simply don’t understand. And, for the record, I’m not big on anniversaries or birthdays, either. You know that passage in Romans about how one man keeps holidays and one man views all days as the same? I’m the latter man…er, woman.
Prepare yourself for a heavy, heavy dose of cynicism that I promise I’ll follow up with seemingly contradictory feelings.
Thanksgiving. Ignoring completely the origins of the holiday, I’m not sure why we designate one day a year to be super, super thankful (and eat a TON of food). And okay, I can’t ignore the origins – I don’t understand why we celebrate a seeming joining of minds of Native Americans and Pilgrims when we all know how authentic that unity was on the Pilgrims’ part. (“We’re going to show up on your land uninvited and take over as much of the continent as we possibly can, whether you like it or not!”)
Christmas. I don’t understand Christmas. Yes, I know angels heralded Christ’s birth and everyone rejoiced, and His first advent to earth is a big deal. I guess I simply tend to think that the reason He came to earth was to die, so His death/resurrection/work on the cross is more important than His birth. And I grew up celebrating his death/resurrection/work on the cross every Sunday in an hour-long observance of the Lord’s Supper in which we sang hymns, talked about Jesus, and prayed. And actually, I never even heard of Advent until I started working at a Christian bookstore in high school. I still don’t get it. We never celebrated Advent specifically. Also, copious compulsory gifts…I’d rather give/receive an impromptu gift any time rather than an obligatory one. And also…I hate traditional Christmas music. Despise. Utterly loathe. (Those of you who know me well are laughing at this point. Yes, you, Paige and Rachel.)
New Year’s. I have still never had a New Year’s kiss, despite being married during the past two New Year’s Eves. We’ve just fallen asleep before midnight. I never understood why it was such a big deal – it’s a day like any other day. I don’t get why it apparently inspires people to make outlandish resolutions that they likely won’t keep anyway. To me, it’s just a turn of a calendar page.
Easter. This is one I really, really don’t understand – probably because of the whole weekly hour-long Lord’s Supper I grew up observing. I don’t understand why the Christian culture gets SO excited around Easter when in my mind we’re supposed to celebrate and appreciate His work year-round. I don’t get Lent, either.
Valentine’s Day. I hated this holiday my entire life. I’m still not crazy about it, even as a married woman.
I don’t really care about political-type holidays like Independence Day or Veteran’s Day, though I am grateful for the people who have worked, fought, and/or died to protect our country – I just don’t worship them or our country.
Are you annoyed with me yet? I don’t blame you. I tend to have very strong opinions for which even I flog myself.
Truth be told, I am a creature of habit. I really like traditions. If any of you are familiar with the TV show “Monk,” I have been compared to him many times by family and friends. I have a specific way of folding my underwear. I organize and reorganize obsessively (unless I think I can’t get it done exactly the way I want it). Around different times of the year, I get feelings, nostalgia, odd urgings to participate in and complete traditions, eat certain kinds of foods, etc. I feel crazy writing that out. It must be the intuitive/feelings part of the whole INFJ thing.
Taking that into account…while there are lots of things about holidays I really don’t like…I actually really enjoy parts of them. And lately, I’ve been trying not to dwell so much on what I don’t like or don’t agree with and instead try to see the good…admittedly, mostly so as not to unduly annoy my family or some of my more Polyanna-like friends.
So, here we go again.
Thanksgiving. This is, actually, my favourite holiday. A week or so beforehand, Dad starts baking – usually peanut butter cookies and party mix, sometimes shortbread as well. Mom starts baking her famous and amazing sourdough bread – loaves and rolls and cinnamon rolls. She and I work on getting the turkey ready – it has never been fully thawed before, so we always wrestle to get the gibblets and such out. We have great fun playing with it, apologizing to it when we have to stick our hands inside (we feel like we are violating the poor, dead bird), rubbing it down with vegetable oil (we call it “giving the turkey a massage”), forcing it into a paper bag that is usually juuustbig enough. I remember back when we used to take turns with Scott and Paula, my parents’ best friends (and a couple I consider to be my second set of parents) – we’d go to their house for Thanksgiving one year, and they’d come to ours the next year. Good food, good friends, Christmas music that I hate but tolerate because it’s the only thing about Christmas that my mom really likes other than ornaments, seeing Dad go nuts baking, putting up the Christmas tree…it’s basically all the parts of family that I love, I think.
Christmas. My favourite part of Christmas is decorating the tree. My family is big on Hallmark ornaments. We each get our own, and usually each couple picks out their own. I adore Peanuts – as in, Charlie Brown – so I usually get a Peanuts ornament. Dad usually gets a Muppets ornament. My sister-in-law gets Egyptian glass ornaments. Mom gets nativities. Michael and Jay, my brother, get whatever geeky sort of thing they pick out that year. It’s so fun to go through and see all of these ornaments of years past and put them on the tree – as my mom says, it’s like having our entire history on the tree.
New Year’s. I’m trying to take more time to reflect in general, so I guess New Year’s can be a reminder to reflect some more…I know, I’m really stretching it here.
Easter. I still don’t get Easter. If we go to Scott and Paula’s house, then I love it because it’s just so awesome spending time with them…but…sorry. I have never been able to get excited about Easter.
Valentine’s Day. I don’t hate this holiday anymore, but it’s still not my favourite. I don’t like the commercialization of love. If I’m going to get flowers or chocolate, I’d rather it be “just because” and not for a holiday.
So there you have it. I simultaneously dislike and enjoy holidays. The thinker and the feeler battle within me once again. But for this holiday season, I’m going to try to let the feeler win out a little bit, maybe shed a little of my cynicism.
What about you? What are your favourite holidays? Least favourite? And why?