Most people don’t know this but I don’t really enjoy fireworks as much as I should and I think candy canes are too sweet and for the life of me can never understand how Santa Clause, the spawn of a Cola company, managed to become so heavily embedded into our culture. I feel more comfortable and sensible being a good girl to Marry Poppins and I’m not really into turkey as much as I am into Grey Goose.
But you probably knew that already.
As you age, the magic turns to manic. You are no longer blessed with the convenience of just having pre-planned fun and opening pre-wrapped gifts. You are now the giver, the planner, the spender, the decider, the dancer and the drunk.
I was told last night in between Mojitos and Wine that as you grow out of your childhood and teen years, Christmas loses its celebrative sentiment. Christmas is Disneyland to a child, Partying at Clubs to youngens and Church to the elderly. Within every stage, you find comfort in entering some magical world. You find comfort in having one tradition you can count to pull through to another year in your once forever-young stage. Then you progress to the newfound rebellion of not having to be at home anymore and you chose to drink with friends and dance the night away instead. And if I am anything like my dad then 15 years from now I would probably spend it at church to rid myself of my yearly committed existential Christian malice.
So now I am told not to expect anymore hanging stockings on my front door or the opening of real presents under the tree (and not wrapped books of my childhood collection of Enid Blyton). No more Polly Pockets , little figurines that would magically transform into mystical creatures, Mini Tea Sets, Barbie dolls (with unrealistic wardrobes), Garfield stationeries (which would always get stolen at school anyway), Game Boys, Baby-G watches or just the random items from Toys R’Us. What was once a tradition of waking up with the excitement of opening the much-anticipated presents is now replaced with waking up with the much-dreaded hangover.
Naturally the advertisers channel this festive energy to push sales on their progress charts by promoting togetherness, generosity and all that jazz. And we, delirious at our local shopping malls from being serenaded by Christmas music and live caroling, not to mention the free handouts of little candy canes to keep our glucose levels at its peak, and the dizzying effect of seeing Santa more than once a day in various locations as well as his little helpers wearing little Santa caps cleaning the toilet, sweeping the floor, giving us back our change, guarding the malls with their guns and so on. It is no surprise how year after year we fall into the trap of turning into serial shoppers.
“Oh you forgot about me?” a friend of mine teased. As if to invoke some guilt as I was about to open her present for me. I explained I just got back and did not have the time.She then shrugged and giggled it off with a “Well you have time now so no more excuses ok?” I then stopped in my track and returned her gift and told her to wait till I got her one. It was only fair, to her it seemed. She saw it as a reasonable trade. We continued our drinks, made pleasantries and went our own way.
I thought about it for a couple of nights after and couldn’t think of a gift good enough to deserve hers in return. So this year, I boycotted Christmas.
No shopping of presents, so subsequently, there was no giving of presents.
No guilt-filled-courtesy invites for ingrates.
No trying to buy love.
No playing host to dad’s Christmas potluck for the choir.
No unnecessary polite handshakes and hugs for strangers.
No endless stream of unnamable family friends whose faces I can’t place.
And after these family obligations I did not rush off to meet friends to celebrate further.
No loud music.
No crammed dance floors.
No smoke filled room.
No long toilet queues
No drunken talks.
I just didn’t have the energy to pull it off for (25 minus 14 years of being home bound equals to…) 11 years straight in a row.I feel better off not expecting anything and in return, not have expectations set on me. In all honesty, this year I didn’t feel a need to celebrate because I did not feel a need to give and receive anything in return. I have to admit, it takes the joy out of the festivity of shopping and wrapping but I guess its because I don’t have a desire for anything I already have. I am content . I do not have a Christmas wish list and I believe the past years I spent shopping for friends were incited by a desire to fill the emptiness within me by filling theirs. But gifts are just gifts and it wont be long till next year comes by again and past gifts are forgotten and all that matters is the new one. Present one. Presents in the now.
This Christmas, I spent it by the pool side without the routine of a countdown and spent it with my siblings and a couple of friends. We sipped on wine, complained about the heat, talked about life and let the night pass without the usual chaos that came with it.
For the past 3 years, as far as I can remember (which isn’t much, thanks to alcohol), I celebrated New Years Eve with my friends back from abroad and in the process, made new ones. And even in my most drunken moments when I close my eyes, I could still place their voices to their faces and imagine their facial expressions and movements as they stumble and laugh, drink and dance. And when it was time to part again to different shores, we promise to return again and relive these very moments. Nostalgia, perforce, brings people together through its sentimentality and people, for the sake of nostalgia, distance becomes a core ingredient for a steadfast friendship.
2007 greets in 2 days. Here comes the tediousness of deciding what to do for NYE. Unlike the past few years, this year I have friends going to places like Bangkok and Singapore and those whom have chose to stay behind will be in different states going to different parties. This year distance is unnecessary but perhaps for the sake of nostalgia, it is inevitable.
I realized that those years spent deciding where to go and what to do were simply irrelevant. It was the necessary process of planning a get together but the core factor of it all was that at the end of the day, we came together despite our differences of opinions and decisions and we had a good time anyway not because the drinks served at _ _ _ _ were cheaper, stronger and better or that the music they played was great to dance to and that the location was good to go club hopping and what not. We had a great New Years Eve simply because we made the effort to be together.
Perhaps this year I should omit the festivities and just reflect on what happened this year and what truly matters as another year comes my way. And for some perverse reason, this gets me thinking to how I should start re-examining my life and the friends I surround myself with. I’m reminded that I shouldn’t take life too seriously but I think it is a real pity not to because we only live once and if you don’t take it seriously, then it can only mean that you’re not living. Grab a shovel and dig 7 feet deep.
I know there’s still lots of time and space for flubs and victories, bungles and triumphs. But then again, I have to learn from these mistakes so I can move on with my life. I don’t want to eliminate people in my life. I shouldn’t have to. But sometimes for the sake of gaining wisdom by fault, it is neccesary. This much, I have learned this year – which might not seem much at all but is the beginning to a better beginning. Our years never end. New years don’t make the old insignificant. It just makes it a continiously long journey with many intervals to give us beginnings so that we feel like we have second chances in life.
May the year ahead give a better beginning, not merely just a new one – giving us more significance and purpose to our lives and wisdom to not only our minds, but our hearts.
Merry Belated Christmas and A very purposeful new year!