Changing what Merry means

So we’ve finally made it. Christmas Eve… and then Christmas day. (Boxing day too, but that’s really more about doing nothing, and sleeping off the food baby named Turkey, than anything else.)

To the days that I’ve dreaded.  Why?  I don’t really know;  Why should this one or two days be any harder than all the rest of them? In this year that has been a journey through loss,  It’s just another day on the calendar flying by.  The only real differences are the number of gifts, and the quality of the food you are likely to eat.  If I were to hazard a guess though, it’s because of what the expectation for Christmas is; that everyone have a MERRY Christmas.  Happy, joyful, and just so jingle-freaking-bells awesome, that you cannot help but be MERRY.  We don’t really use that word any more.  Well, perhaps Robin Hood and his band of merry men, but you probably didn’t even remember that reference until you read it here, it’s very passé.

So were’ expected to smile, and drink god-awful egg-nog, and make yourself sick on homemade cookies and chocolates.  Particularly in the office,  it’s all handshakes, or hugs with your closer friends at work.  Lame jokes about seeing you in a year for those who have the days off until the new year passes, and well wishes for the holidays.  Frankly, I think we’d do it better if we all just had a couple of belts of our favourite booze, and call it a day.

I know what you’re thinking.  I’m not a Grinch.  Or Scrooge.  Although I’ve never been the biggest fan of Christmas. the incessant playing of Christmas carols has always made me feel like rage-stabbing the radio D.J.  And don’t get me started on the nauseating remakes that all the pop stars do, same song, done worse each time.  (I bet you all can’t wait until “a very Ke$ha Christmas” comes out.  There’s a new track, skanking around the Christmas tree that is a must listen.)  I love giving gifts, but hate shopping, I love seeing family, but hate the pace of running from place to place, I love the food…. well, I just love the food.

All the appeals for charity. We should be thinking of being as charitable as we can afford, but it shouldn’t be a two-day-good-will-to-you-poor-people kind of thing, Increased charity appeals shouldn’t have to happen because it should be a continuous theme among those of us that are more prosperous.

It’s all the Christmas movies, which by God, are annoying as a piece of salad stuck between your teeth with no toothpicks around.   Is there a Christmas movie out there that isn’t solved happily by the end?  That a little kid singing a Christmas carol, or a letter to Santa or some ridiculous 11th hour profession of love doesn’t wrap up the film with a warm fuzzy for all involved?  That’s a triple blech with a gag me on the side.

And I’ll try not to say too much about the advertising which starts in November, and doesn’t stop  until you’ve questioned your sanity.  If I get really started, I’ll never stop. But the  commercials seem to be from some other dimension where people can afford to give cars with red bows on them for Christmas, and each family member clearly has a budget of about ten grand to spend on their nieces and nephews.  The avarice of it is disgusting.

All those things are the reasons that I don’t really like Christmas much, but what stands out the most is the expectation of delirious happiness just because the 25th of December has rolled around again.  Because it’s fake!  At least it’s fake as far as I have seen in all my time in this world.  I have not met, nor do I know, or have had a relationship with someone be it friend, family or acquaintance, that has such a gosh-darn-gee-willkers perfect life.  Every one has carried sadness or loss or tragedy in to the holidays.  Stress and pressure, expectation and disappointment.

So, I had to do something.  Something to make it through.  I had to change what Merry means.  At least what it means to me.  I went in to the office, I spoke to my friends, and I changed “Merry” from sugar-plum jolliness to mean something far more profound to me.

In my mind, I changed it to mean peace.  So, I wished them each a peaceful Christmas.  Which is what we can all use in our stockings, a little measure of peace from all the tumult.  And, in the same vein, I listened to it the same.  I simply believed that when each person wished me a Merry Christmas, they were wishing me peace.  And it’s the best gift that I could get.   I anticipated a truly difficult day, and my little subterfuge actually worked.  It has been a long time since I felt that much of a connection with the people around me.

And I wish, to all those who read this, a very, Merry Christmas.

Even if I don’t know you, Merry Christmas.  Because now you know what I mean when I say it.  And I know you need it.  We all do.


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