Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fortyness - Embracing the Inner Scrooge

I have a confession to make. To some of you, especially those of you who know me well, this may come as a surprise. I know that I have hidden it well, and from the picture that I probably paint, what I am about to tell you is completely contrary to what you may believe I am like. But, I bet once I disclose, many of you will have to confess to some small degree that you feel the same.

My confession?

I am a scrooge. At least part of me is a scrooge. I don’t like the holidays – at least parts of them.

Now let me clarify. I am not saying that everything about the Christmas season should be disliked. There is the happiness of hearing the ringing bell as you leave stores, and the greater happiness of watching your kids drop a few coins in that unmistakable red bucket to help out others in need. Wonderful music plays on the radio, cd players and canned music loops all around. Kitchens smell of fresh baked cookies and other goodies that are a traditional part of the season. And of course, the greening of homes and other gathering places puts the masses into the holiday season. There is much joy in many parts of this festive time of year.

But, from a practicality and emotional aspect, it is a very stressful time of year. For many of us, it is a time of loneliness as we spend with those we love, but apart from others we love. Busy schedules, busy lives, or lots of miles have made it difficult to feel the “togetherness” that we long for at this time of year. Creating memories for everyone else has caused us to put expectations upon ourselves and have expectations put upon us that we can’t possibly live up to – at least not year after year. We have put value in the perfect tree, the perfect gift, and the perfect experience. We feel a sense of failure and sadness when we can’t deliver, or when we have given our all to deliver, but fall short in the eyes of others. As we run around in the busyness of the season, the light that we should shine in this season is snuffed out by the chaos we create. In the weariness of this aspect of the season, the inner scrooge emerges. What's to like about that?

In my fortyness, I am choosing to embrace my inner scrooge. It is a part of me and a part of my humanness. My inner scrooge is evidence of me recognizing that there is something amiss in my attitude about the holidays. Although it often results in barrage of tears when my “perfect” tree has fallen over for the third time, a meltdown when I can’t seem to find the right gifts, or a weepy episode when I am missing my family, the insistence of my inner scrooge to “swear off” the holidays is actually a reminder that I need to get back to basics. This curmudgeonous counterpart of my holiday being balances my delusions of grandeur of thinking that “I” can do it all, be it all, and deliver it all. My inner scrooge brings me back to the reality that this season is not about making it all perfect for myself or others. My inner scrooge reminds me that this season is about finding joy - joy in the gift that was given to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

So, for this holiday, embrace your inner scrooge. Before it has you in a HoHoHumbug state of mind, recognize it, embrace it, and acknowledge that it is there. Use it to see the changes that may or may not need to be made in your outlook of this time of year. The inner scrooge is the perfect balance to the expectations we have placed on the Holiday Season.