Not long to go now. The stress season is in full swing and we’re speedily heading towards the year’s big anti-climax. Now call me Scrooge if you will, but I just can’t help it. Why? Well, my body is telling me that we’re well and truly in lemming mode and basking in the groundswell of seasonal Santa stress. On second thoughts I’d better not blame it all on Santa, for afterall the real, St. Nicholas is well and truly gone.
No, lets just pin it on the groundswell of acquisitive desire that the marketing men conjur up in the dark depths of Winter. Of course, if I’m brutally honest, there’s another toxic ingredient in the heady potion that we drink so willingly during the festive period, viz. the desire for human acceptance. Now during normal times this desire to be liked, perhaps even loved, is firmly tucked away in the bed of general acceptance. If we don’t bother folk, then generally they won’t bother us. Such an emotional standoff is usually enough to get by. However, during the Yuletide season, our deep-seated insecurities are well and truly flushed out.
How come? Well, the gathering of the clan tends to reveal all our relational doubts and fears. How do our nearest and dearest perceive us? What do they really think of us? Behind the pseudo-smiles of meeting what, if truth be told, is bubbling up in the hearts of our hosts and guests?
Of course, ego finds its own way of getting over the doubts and fears. It does so by showering those we might bump into over the turkey with generous gifts, those trinkets of love that ought to calm the unconscious troubled waters. The trouble is that we stress ourselves up to high heaven wondering if our gift is really up to scratch, one that will pacify the receipients perception of us, in our angst-ridden storm of doubt. That’s where the marketing men come in. They act as our financial shrinks, pointing out the perfect gift, the present guaranteed to buy approval, at least for another year.
Unsurprisingly, none of us want to be rejected and we’ll splash the cash if it delivers the covering over of relational cracks, those that threaten our very sense of Self worth. Yet, even when the deed is done and the fake smile of appreciation beamed in our direction, we still wonder. Has the sacrifice of our hard earned dollars calmed the savage breast, or further lowered us in their valued estimation.
No, Christmas isn’t an easy time, not easy at all. They say that most divorces occur in early January. No longer can the faked marital game continue, having been finally exposed by the saintly happiness of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Sadly, it’s time for reality, no matter how painful and devastating. Estrangement within families also bursts into focus during the festive dance. For some the phoniness of family bliss is just too much to take. Time to break free and leave the party for good.
Thankfully though, when all that’s left is the memory of Christmas past, we may actually be ready for something real, something that delivers genuine authentication. A relationship that asks nothing in return for it’s dying yet timeless Love. An Other who can’t be manipulated by the fear-scripted sacrifices of our giving. One Who justs wants us to be and be known. Now that’s a gift worth receiving and passing on to our fellow man, especially our loved ones.