The Season of No Dread

This is the first holiday season I haven't dreaded with every ounce of my being since about 1995. It's not that I'm a Grinch, because I'm not. I've always loved the holidays. I love the baking, the decorating, the time spent with family and friends, the music, the shopping, the chaosevery bit of it. It's just that since my last Christmas in Colorado, in 1999, I haven't been able to afford what I thought it took to enjoy the season, even nominally. It seemed like a frivolous expense I couldn't afford...

I'd look at Thanksgiving dinner and secretly brood that it could have bought a week's worth of groceries. And Christmas presents? Forget it. I love getting things for people, but when I had to look forward to a month of everyone eating Ramen, well, I just couldn't see the sense of it all. But we did it anyway, in our fashion. Somehow it worked out and by New Year's I felt I'd witnessed something not unlike the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Regardless of how it turned out every year, I always spent the first month of the year ill from the result of constant grinding, oppressive stress and guilt.

But this year is different. While we're not loaded (and we still have to be sensible) I'm looking forward to getting people things they really want and to laying the table with fun, traditional holiday food without all of my former worries of having nothing in the pantry when it's all over. The best part is that I'm waking up in the mornings without that black cloud of impending doom fogging my mind. I'm not stuck in clinical depression. I'm looking forward to the holidays again, like I did before 1999. I'm even looking forward to getting Nigel a Christmas collar and tie. Why? Because I can, damn it!

Mind you, I still think my 101 Christmas Gifts Under $10 blog entry is helpful. I've never understood people who put themselves in debt at Christmas time. To me, that's just mass consumerism that robs from the true spirit of the holidays (which is giving of oneself) and passes the American "gimme-gimme-gimme" disease on to one's kids. Don't even get me started on the subject of Black Friday...

But this year I can increase the dollar amount per person on my list, and I'm going to. Not so much that I forget all those years of being skint, or pretend they never happened, however.

That, I will never forget.