December 27th, 2011

blue lights

Festivus for the Restivus

So you all know what festivus is...remember, from Seinfeld? I decided this Christmas that i wanted to campaign to add a sort of Festivus celebration to my holiday season. Not as the article above boasts about, but rather something a little different.

The holidays as 'properly' spent in our society are to be focussed on time with your family. In Canada at least, you do what you can to travel to your family and spend the time with them. If you don't like your family (or don't have one) and choose to not do that, and you're lucky you can maybe find an ex-pat Xmas celebration or two going on that you can join. But for the most part, most of your friends are going to also be heading off to their families as well. If you're lucky in an alternate way you might get invited into a family Christmas as well, which can be nice. And hell if that family is totally against the norm it could be a very special and wonderful time. But you'll still feel like a fifth wheel and essentially be an outsider. Even if they are the most welcoming friendly family in the universe there will still be two million years of in-jokes and short-speak that you're only going to get if they continuously explain them to you in asides. However, they'll still mostly be you-had-to-be-there kind of experiences. The only way to get around this type of thing is to come back to that same Christmas year after year so you too start to build up a lexicon of shared experiences. That's what we all do when we marry into a family and start spending time with them.

But i sort of discovered something this year as the wife and i went from x-mas to x-mas (we attend 3 very different x-mas celebrations between our two families). I am a huge closet sentementalist (shhhh, it's a secret - also this is not what i discovered, i've known this forever). I found that every time that i found the joy of christmas somewhere inside of me trying to come out it was strangled by something. The xmas spirit for both the wife and i this year was very difficult...we didn't really feel it was christmas time until alone, mid-christmas morning driving from the first celebration to the next listening to a Michael Buble x-mas CD. The extent of our x-mas decorating from home was moving the jingly xmas hangy thing from the front of the fridge where it got put last year cause it missed getting into the x-mas storage box back to the apt door.

But as we were driving along, just the two of us, playing the carols, i started to feel all warm and friendly and family-y. I find that during christmas at home, or homes, whenever i start to feel like that, someone will yell about something, or someone will bring up something from the past that was best left unsaid or they would just bring out a piece of their repellant personality that you put up with because they're family. in short, the warm friendly feelings that you might want to have overcome you with feelings of joy and love, are destroyed as quickly as they come. This has alwasy been the way for me, well it always was the way until i went back east to school. For the six years i was at school i spent xmas with my grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins and etc. During that time i was taught what a delight that christmas can be. Returned the joyous feelings that i remember from my early childhood. Christmas was just a time of joy and laughter, hugs and healing, family and friends.

Now i'm not saying i don't want to spend Christmas with my or J's family. There is still something special and wonderful about that time and i don't go give it up. And i don't want to suggest that we didn't have a good time over the holidays. We did, there were islands of time during the 4 days that were really quite enjoyable. What i found when i was driving down that road with my wife, suddenly feeling the spirit of christmas was that i really wanted to give a particular friend a christmas hug and let her know how much i missed and cared about her right that moment. feelings that should be a part of christmas but don't seem to be a part of the holidays we have been spending.

i came up with a thought experiment at that time, that i'd like to maybe travel away somewhere just with a couple of friends for xmas to see how it ends up being different. but that also has it's issues.

so here's what i would like to do.
institute festivus - a day to spend your holiday with the people you choose to care about rather than those that you are forced to care about. (i know, i know, some of you would also choose to love your families given the choice.

this isn't just a big party, it's not so much of gathering and mingling and getting drunk.
it's a small to medium group of people that you gather to to hang out, chat, talk, eat some food and most importantly laugh.
a glass or 6 of port, sherry or fortified egg nog is fine but it's not the goal.
no presents, too much of that already but i think i'd like the idea of a set of gift bags set up in a room and everyone who comes in can go in and put one stocking-type gift in each bag. just something small and thoughtful and fun. it's so hard to just buy someone a cute little moisturizer or something these days. then later in the gathering we'd opening stockings amongst more laughter.

timing could be a challenge (see above travelling statements) but maybe it's something we could fit in either the week before xmas or maybe even on new years day. close enough to the day to have meaning but not necessary to be right there.

so that's my idea and my campaign.
what do you think? would you participate?