Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006, In Memorium

So, that's that done for another year.

I hope you all had a fabulous time. I'd love to post that I did, really I would. However, in the spirit of truth in reporting I have to say it was 50/50 between really, really sucking the big one and being fabulous. I'm such a creature of extremes. Like, really.

Pre-Christmas stress (especially of the financial kind) got the better of me this year, and so I largely opted out. Non participatory. I sent some gifts across for my two nephews but agreed with my two sisters, one of whom just bought a house recently, that we wouldn't bother with gifts this year. I struggled with the Christmas spirit, in part because I knew that I'd likely be the recipient of gifts from friends, friends who wouldn't receive one in return. Kind of dreading disappointing others is not a great way to enter into the spirit of the season.

So, it wasn't fine 'in theory' but it was all going to be theoretically, well, manageable and ok. Except, it kind of wasn't. I got strung out, I felt sad and disappointed, crabby, pressured and frustrated. I had social plans for Christmas day lunch. However a combination of my mood on the morning, screwing up the food I was to take, a mess up with the transport plans that I thought meant I'd be catching 2 trains across the city with a full picnic basket on my own, and then breaking a shoe as I was about to leave the house, sent me into a shitstorm emotional spiral. So I elected not to go. Then I got a phone call from the train station saying that without my knowing it the transport arrangements had reverted back to their original plan and "where was I?". Where I was was sitting at home on the edge of not just tears, but reasonableness as well.

I didn't go. What I did do was have a cry, pull my shit together, deal with my anger and frustration, collect my thoughts, ring back and apologise for my melt-down on the phone, go for a walk and get some perspective. It sorted itself out. I made it sort itself out.

In the evening I co-opted Mikey (the lovely ex) and we went to Christmas dinner at my friends Meaghan and Jamie's house, with many of the greater extended clan. It turned out to be a wonderful night, a perfect antidote to how I felt in the morning. I still felt a bit odd and fragile, and weird about being given gifts by friends I had nothing for, but in a much better mind set. Food and drink were consumed, babies were held, kids played with, cats patted and old friends caught up with. It was a good night.

Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day with Morgan and a bunch of my friends from Flickr at the home of Kt and her family. A long afternoon into evening of food and drink, playing "cross country croquet", chatting to friends and people I just met, and playing with various and sundry kids put some of the Christmas cheer back into Christmas.

So. It was a strange one this year. I've had negative times in my life, but rarely do I want to shout and cry, and have a good old fashioned melt-down like I did on Christmas morning. I'm normally set to a slow simmer. On the upside, I pulled myself out of it fairly well. With the help of friends that have known me for a long time and take me as I am, and that I care very deeply for. Even though none of them knew what had been on the agenda earlier in the day. The rest of the day, and the following day, were much better.

High highs and one very low low. I can see where I went wrong. Where I planned poorly, took too much negativity on board, let difficult circumstances get to me, and placed stress of expectation and regret on myself. I'm not beating myself up, just being honest and learning from the experience.


worldpeace and a speedboat said...

oh TOA! an honest and thoughtful and in turn, thought-provoking post.

since The Big Ekka (aka dad) has gone Xmas is so much more fragile than I keep thinking it will be. I get to feeling a bit lost on the day now, when I always used to look forward to it with unbridled pleasure. but then I think TDN(tm) does too. and when you add the current situation... well.

we went through some utter poo the day before Xmas (Xmas is also The Delightful Nanna(tm)'s b'day btw) and the day itself was reasonably fragile... so I can sympathise... I wish I could have had the outlet you ultimately had.

I'm glad you got to work out the crappy mood and into a better one :-)

Tyson said...

I'm glad you 'found the light', and I hope you have few meltdowns this year. :)

Ur-spo said...

one of my favorite quotes is from "The Lion in Winter". I use it liberally this time of year.

"Well, there will be other Christmases".

Mikey (The Lovely Ex) said...


I had a feeling that your Christmas Day wasn't up there with Halmark's Top 10. But as you say, Meaghan's was great. I had got myself into my own blue funk after lunch with the parentals, over, oh, soooo many things. So I was glad you persisted in co-opting me for Meaghan's. See, even when you are feeling crap you are helping others. That's the holiday season for you. In common with a theme of your post, increasingly and ironically (for me) it's children that help. First it was Steve's gorgeous girl, Scarlett on Christmas eve unwrapping (reluctantly) and then playing (enthusiasitically) with the wooden dolls house I got her, then it was the kids at Meaghan's (especially the adorable Zoe) and then again hearing how excited Scarlett was on Boxing Day with all her presents and of course the dolls house. It's all about bringing joy and there is no more honest joy than from a child.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that the dinner helped lift your spirits. It's pretty good for that and it was lovely to see you.

I understand the feeling of recieving and not giving gifts. Whilst no-one else minds (and we don't) you get a little bit caught up in it. Just remember that gifts (at least good ones) are given with no expectation of reciprocation.(sp??)

If it makes you feel better, you may buy me something fabulous for my birthday :)

Anonymous said...

*Big post-Xmas-stress hugs*

morgan said...

Having my own panic about getting to the train station on time really didn't help, did it?

I'm really glad that your day improved, and Kt's party was good for the soul.

Michael Guy said...

Move over, honey. I'm singing the same tunes though perhaps from a different song book. Le sigh. Christmas just didn't pop my cork this year. Go figure. Should we pledge, here and now--a Sydney visit come Christmas 2007? I mean, surely, the 'mean reds' can't follow one all the way to Australia? I know. I know: stop calling you 'shirley.'

The Other Andrew said...

Thanks all! Like some of you said, there's next year. :)

MG, you must come visit. Think 'Summer' and 'Christmas' and then imagine what combining the two feels like.

DV, of course a birthday gift would help to make me feel better - how could it not? :) It's true about reciprocation, although I don't think that really ends up being how it works. Ideal maybe...

Mousicles said...

The reason I hate weddings is because so many hopes and dreams and expectations rest on a single day being perfect. Usually the stress of achieving perfection puts the kybosh on gaining it or enjoying it if you do actually succeed.

Luckily, Christmases are more regular and there's always next year... or indeed Boxing Day or New Years Day or one of the days in between to get some enjoyment out of the silly season.

I had a good Christmas overall. I was a little distracted since I had the new baby to wrangle and he just didn't want to sleep during the party. So we left early to as not in inflict too much screaming on the party.

Presents are fun to give and receive. I agree that there is always angst about whether the exchange is equivalent. This year there was a bit of an agreement to keep gifts small and that worked well, I think. We gave out little hampers of homemade stuff and got a variety of gifts, including consumables, in return. I especially loved the gifts for the baby. I look forward to the time when he's old enough to enjoy them.

I think the best goal to hope for in a Christmas is to spend a little time relaxing with family or friends and share some good food. Any more than that is a bonus.