There was a famous (well) philosopher (Barthes, maybe?) who commented on how the ritualistic nature of holidays is actually a part of the capitalistic system to provide the oppressed workers with just enough refueling to keep at their drudgery without rebellion. This grim take on Christmas (and equivalent holidays) rings true, undoubtedly. The true and good thing to do, I suppose would be to break the system and refuse to buy into this manufactured commercialized glitter fest.
It’s all very well to say you agree, but what about the enormous emotional attachment we all have to the holidays? How are you supposed to do away with something that, in the end, does bring so much joy to so many people?
I don’t know, honestly. I do know that like everybody, I have my own set of rituals I follow every December, a sort of annual refreshment of the soul. Some of it, of course, is food and glitter based — I won’t deny that — but I have a few special things I do that are only for me and from me.
1) Every December, I re-read Wuthering Heights. There is something irresistably haunting about Emily Bronte’s imagination that just does not go with a blazing sun and light breeze. Cooler temperatures required. It’s not my favourite or even in my top 5 (or 10, really) favourite books. So why do I re-read it? Because it makes me mad, but it also makes me think. It’s the one book that every time I read it I still cannot figure out what is going on with those characters, and every time I read it I discover something new. And spiritually, it’s a refreshing take on the concept of a human soul.
2) I also re-read at least one or more of either the Harry Potter, Narnia or Lord of the Rings books. These were all books I read at a time in my life when I was incandescently happy (because they were so fantastic!) but I didn’t really know it. This is terribly cliche, but it also reminds me of a time when I was so much more innocent. Not in a blooming lily of feminine delicacy kind of way, just in a youthful, naive pre-college level Sociology and T.S. Eliot kind of way. I would never want to be that silly again, but sometimes I like to try and recapture that rare feeling of life being simultaneously safe and full of adventures. December is perfect, because I have time, and it’s the end of the year and world-weariness is at it’s highest. And it puts me in a good mood to interact with people. Which brings me to the next point:
3) I can be a hermit sometimes, it’s true. But come December, I like to open up my social calender. I go out more, I drink more, and I like to look at my life and evaluate the people that are in it, and that aren’t. Figure out who the people are that just drifted away that I actually miss and get in touch with them to see if they might miss me too.
4) I wear my ugly clothes that I love-hate. They make me look ridiculous. I hate it. But so freakin comfy! God they’re comfy.
5) I eat mince pies and listen to Christmas carols and make my desktop background red and green and candle-ey. This one is conventional, of course. But I honestly only do these things at this time of the year. It doesn’t feel right otherwise.
6) I learn at least one new skill. I know this is more of a January thing, but I do it now because I feel like it. This year, it’s baking. I’ve mastered cookies, and I’m thinking of stopping because really once you’ve mastered cookies, what else do you need in life?
7) I travel. In a small way, in a big way, I like to hit at least one new destination every December.
I’m sure everyone has these strange and not-so-strange little rituals, without which their holiday isn’t complete!