Follow by email:

Monday, 29 October 2012

Twas the fright before Christmas

I used to love Christmas. I loved the build up, going into town to see the windows, decorating the tree, giving and getting presents, the food and the parties. Over time however, I find I go through all the traditions, but it seems to be fraught with obligation and a lot of the joy has been taken from it. We have a busy festive season, and I sometimes find myself juggling two simultaneous Christmas events for the kids, then racing home to get hurriedly dressed for an adult event. I should enjoy all this socialising but I get tired. I could say no, but then I feel mean if I deprive the children of their social occasion for the sake of my own.
Then there’s Christmas Day itself. We rush all over the countryside to accommodate both family events – a lunch and a dinner. Both families are fraught with a dysfunction (no different to any other family) that I find stressful – it’s a matter of waiting for someone to be unhappy about something, someone to throw out an unintended but hurtful barb, some minor drama to unfold.
I like to take the kids into town for the big city Christmas festivities, but we rush after school and in part, we see Santa to lock in the xmas wishes.
I know all those things are not the actual reason for Christmas, but for those of us secular types, that is the celebration, all those Christmas traditions. I also dare anyone to try saying to their family "We won't come to lunch because we're only going to celebrate the birth of Christ". Even the most committed Christian grandparent would probably not be happy with that.
All of the obligation and minor pressure is why Halloween has far eclipsed any other celebration as my favourite. It’s all the good things of Christmas without the bad. I decorate the house – it takes a few days to get everything up, as over the last ten years I've amassed quite a collection of display materials. I order in the USA seasonal candy – so we have ‘special’ festive food. I have a big party, where I invite my friends and their children (if they have them), and there is no obligation or expectation ruling who I must celebrate with or what I must do. We get to dress up, as we like – and it’s fun. The kids are so excited, but without any greed (well, maybe a little, for the ton of candy but it’s more about the decorations and the carving of the pumpkin and planning of elaborate costumes).
We read Halloween stories nightly for the two weeks leading up to it (the wonderful Judy Sierra's works are my favourite), craft activities revolve around making decorations for the party. Selecting the pumpkin has become a tradition like going off to find a tree was in my youth. We drive around the week before singing along to Halloween songs. My three year old is delighting in all the light up, moving, singing, dancing ornaments that are appearing around the house.
However, I’m the one who is most excited – the whole extravaganza is driven by my enthusiasm for the event. And I guess that’s the indicator of my own dysfunction. It’s my gift to me, as Christmas and birthdays seem to have become about pleasing everybody else. For me it’s like the Christmas of my childhood, where it’s festive and fun, and purely about enjoyment.
To all the anti-Halloweeners, who see a decorated house and complain we are taking on American traditions, consider the possibility that there may be more to it than that. Perhaps it’s reclaiming the lost joy of celebration for the sake of enjoyment and pleasure, that the commercialism of Christmas has stolen.
So Happy Halloween to you all – I’m off to stencil ghosts onto the grass.

Linking up with #IMustConfess

26 comments:

  1. Happy Halloween!! I think Christmas starts too early in the shops.. we don't need 3 months to buy decorations that we won't hang up in our house until atleast 1st December!!!

    #teamIBOT was here :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that starts too early, can we at least get thru Cup day before xmas starts?

      Delete
  2. Unfortunately another 10 years time and Halloween is going to be just as commercial as Christmas the way things are going. I do love me a good excuse to dress up though and was disappointed that I missed my friends Halloween party on the weekend due to a hens night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it already is commercial but the expectations are different - people don't make demand on you (and your time) at the same level...or do you think that will change? Might invent my own mid year celebration that no one can comandeer! (you've just filled me with alarm!)

      Delete
  3. Yay - I love this. You are so right. I love Halloween simply for it's "fun-ness" (is that a word?). I don't care if it's an American tradition or not. It brings a smile to the kids faces, they love it!! I try really hard not to get sucked into all the pre Christmas hype months before. I still wait till December before I start buying things - for me it then feels like it's for Christmas and not just another trip to the shops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fun-ness most definitely SHOULD be a word!

      Delete
  4. I'm one of those people who loves the chaos and madness of Christmas. I still love driving around looking at Christmas lights, I love all the free Christmas concerts and carols and kind of enjoy the endless partying. Although I don't really like the politics behind trying to keep both my husband and my family happy with visits, especially when it becomes more about the grown ups and less about the kids having a magical experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't get me wrong, I do like Christmas but it's that trying to keep everyone happy that's sucked the joy out of it. And yes, there certainly is something so very magical about Christmas.

      Delete
  5. I have organised the kids in our street for a halloween celebration. It is our first, so it should be fun. But nothing for me can take over Xmas. I have that same excitement you expressed for Halloween for Christmas. It seems although many try to put a dampener on it, they cannot break my will :)
    #ibot

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love that they try to put a dampened on it but can't break your will. There's a blogpost idea for you I the next few weeks. I for one want a bit more of that spirit back!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm a Christian and while I *do* appreciate the "reason for the season", I still struggle with the whole Christmas thing ... for various reasons. Just call me the Grinch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still don't love Christmas, three years on from my original comment, LOL

      Delete
  8. I'm lucky that my folks and in-laws don't make a big fuss about visiting them both in one day so we usually alternate and do one family Christmas day and the other on boxing day. This year we have nothing planned on the actual day so we may just spend it at home. I do find the shopping tedious, though. Probably my own fault as I leave it until the last minute. Can't say I've gotten to Halloween as yet but I can see your point about it. Hope your Christmas turns out to be better than expected. xo

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wish we lived in your neighbourhood! Your Halloween sounds like a lot of fun. I make a point of celebrating Halloween, because I did as a child, growing up in Canada and there are not many Canadian traditions that my children get to experience now that I live in Australia. The good thing is that unlike my Canadian friends, my kids' costumes are not limited by what can be worn over a snowsuit - can you picture hundreds of little 'ghosts' walking the streets on Halloween night? :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post! I hope you do reclaim Christmas one day... maybe by having a xmas eve celebration at your home with your family and friends... stuff the weird relos and their hang ups.

    I love your Hallowe'en idea though. I've never really gotten into that celebration but I will try it out next year :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like your take on Halloween. I've never been a big fan of Halloween myself but maybe I need to take another look - I like the idea of a holiday without obligations!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh I loved Halloween this year! Other years I haven't really rated it, but it was awesome this year!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I never really got in to or understand the whole Halloween thing. It seemed to go crazy here this year and I am not sure why.. I can definitely see it as a benefit if it slows down the craziness of Christmas over riding the shops too early!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This year we decided that we aren't going anywhere for Christmas. For the last 5 Christmases we have traveled (600+km) and we just want a year at home. We told people if they really want to see us, then they know where we are...so that probably means we will be spending the day by ourselves and I am looking so forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is why for the 11 years I lived in the USA I loved Thanksgiving. There was none of the pressure there is at Christmas to buy the perfect gifts and decorate the whole house...it was just family and friends coming together for a feast and enjoying the day together. Christmas Day is a bit sad for me as it is always over really quickly. We do breakfast with my family, then my sisters rush off to in-laws places. one sister recently moved away so she won't even be here this year. And the huge family I was planning on having to make Christmases so special hasn't' worked out and my only son will be a bit lonely this Christmas I think. All we can do is try and plan the right amount of events that means we're not running around like crazy and stressed out, keep things simple and fun, and make the most of it without getting sucked into it ALL. x

    ReplyDelete
  16. I hope you have another fun Halloween this year. I'm not sure what happens in our neighbourhood given it's our first Halloween in our new home so will see tonight. We have candy at the ready in case they do come around trick or treating !!
    Have a wonderful night !
    Me xox

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love this. Love it.
    I am lucky we only have one side of the family to contend with on christmas day but it is still such a busy day. I am also over christmas being a 365 day event. I swear the shops don't bother taking away all the stuff for sale and just leave it. Our school had a massive carnival last night which was great and it was a great atmosphere. I think my main reason for disliking it so much is that kids are roaming the streets with no adults nearby. I love the idea of a party.
    I hope you had a great night last night!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. We had a ball. Even I dressed up with face paint, along with the girls this year. Ba humbug to the people who don't like it. Maybe there should be a halloween grinch haha.

    ReplyDelete
  19. See, I am terrible at planning and hosting parties. My poor kids got a bit of rough deal with me. I'm no fun. Enjoy your party xo

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love Halloween too :) It was pretty popular to go trick or treating and getting dressed up in my area as a kid. I like the idea of people in Australia getting more into the spirit of it like in the US, decorating houses and such. I don't mind the commerciality of it too much though.. I am Chrismas obsessed a bit and am already super exciting about it.. in October lol I just love a good fun celebration!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I still like your positive take on Halloween Lydia. I'm still not much of a fan but I think I need to find more of the meaning and make it more of a celebration. I hope you have lots planned for Saturday night!

    ReplyDelete