A Sentient Holiday Survival Guide (and a little catch-up)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

| | |
Hello friends, on this fine Thanksgiving eve.  I trust this finds you well, if a little stressed, perhaps a little apprehensive?  I know we're about to embark on that ambivalent and potentially trying time of year, The Holidays.  Here in America, we start with Thanksgiving and the fun (or misery, depending on your lot) doesn't stop until after the New Year.  If that prospect excites you, I share your joy and wish you all the magical beauty and warmth this time of year can offer.  If not, I feel you, too, because we all know that family time isn't always happy time.  But... I'll get back to that in a minute.  First, to catch up.

I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 over the weekend, and I'm pleased to say it was fantastic.  Anyone else seen it yet?  I'd love to hear your impressions.  There were parts that took my breath away, and a few that choked me up entirely.  I need to see it again, to thoroughly digest it all (any idea on how long 'til the DVD release?), and now I'm counting the months to the release of Part 2 in July.  It's excruciating, sitting here in the middle like this.  

Yesterday, I laid my hands on a copy of Stephen King's latest collection of short stories, Full Dark, No Stars .  I haven't even cracked it open yet, except to peek at the dedication page, which is to Tabitha King, and which touched me as much as every other one that's been dedicated to her in the past.  Somehow, his dedications never get old, and never fail to make me smile.  

In other news, I need to let you know that my dear friend, Sarah Franz-Wichlacz, is selling her one-of-a-kind hand-made critters, in case you know of a certain someone (you, perhaps?) that needs a magical creature in their life.  She makes them on commission, they're going for $75 per critter, and they're bigger than you think!  You can see examples of some she's made so far on her blog here, or look over to the right at Other Worlds to See and click on wich-crafting - you'll be transported to her world.  If you are interested in commissioning one of these lovelies from the lovely Sarah, you can email her directly at sfranzwichlacz@gmail.com.  I highly recommend it.  You won't be disappointed.  (Those magical hands can conjure the most wondrous creations.)

And now to deal with those potential holiday woes.  I know many of the people of my when and where are dealing with all kinds of recent family upheavals, yours truly being no exception.  If you have no such issues, and you get along great with your family, then do give thanks and hug and kiss those wonderful relations of yours for being a positive, stable, loving influence in your life.  Don't ever take that for granted.  

For everyone else, it can be hard sometimes to muster up good will and holiday spirit when you dread the awkward conversation, the elephant in the room, the endless mortifying decisions like what gifts to give, what food to serve, dear gods, what to wear  around these people!  Fear not, dear friends.  This too shall pass.  And in the mean time, I've come up with some ways to deal with it until it does.  

First, please remember that your familial relations, be they blood-tied or in-lawed, are people, too.  This sounds cliche, I know.  But it's something we don't often stop to really consider when we're sitting there, judging each other with fake smiles on our faces.  

Each and every person you see, and your family is no exception, has nagging fears, horrible habits (like your own), and their own particular ways of protecting themselves (just like you) from anyone who seems to them to be attacking who they are or what they hold dear.  These bits of self defense may come across as a prejudice, rudeness, or a direct attack on you.  They are protecting themselves.  Remember this.  In every difficult, confusing moment, people are just trying to survive, whether they are conscious of it or not.  Think about that for a moment.  Consider the people you know and try it on for size.  Can you see how this applies?

Are you with me on this?  Do you see what I mean? 

Now that we've put that into perspective (hopefully), I want to suggest that, in order to really make it through The Holidays intact and, perhaps (dare we hope?), happy, it's important to start looking inward.  Just a moment will do.  Who are you?  At your core?  What is the very best of you?  And what do you have (don't roll your eyes) to be thankful for?  

I sometimes think the Fates set it up this way, that Thanksgiving should kick off the holiday season (at least in this country) for a reason, and, sue me, but I think I'm onto something here.  

You have something, even if it looks like the whole wide world has gone gray and black with awful loss or sadness or just plain awkward family stuff.  If you have family, count this as a blessing.  Many people have no one, and not everyone likes it that way.  If you have "no one," remember that you have yourself, that you are alive, and treat yourself to something you love, something you enjoy, something that reminds you that being alive isn't so bad.  There's still good music.  There's a sky to wonder at.  And great books to read.  Movies to watch.  New people you've never met... but could. 

What I'm trying to say, friends, is that we are all someone and so is everyone else.  Don't let an awkward moment (or an infuriating one) rattle your core.  Your Aunt Mable may always criticize your clothes or your cooking.  So what?  It makes her feel better about herself to make you feel bad.  Don't let her.  You are you and that's no better or worse than anyone else.  

You've lost someone, or your family has a great big schism running through it.  Smile at all of them, even the ones you disagree with.  The point is who is there, not who isn't.  The point is that you're all human and all going through your own experience.  Disagreements are bound to happen.  It doesn't have to make you miserable.  And if someone in your family feels the need to start a confrontation, by all means let them, as long as it's productive, as long as it's honest, as long as it means getting down to admitting there's a big fat elephant sitting in your living room.  Go ahead, hash it out.  

I used to believe that people should just "try to get along" for the holidays, but I think I've grown past that now.  I still believe people should try to appreciate each other for the holidays, but that's not the same thing.  Learning to be honest, learning to be real, even if you don't get the reactions your hoping for, is a hard thing.  But it's better.  It's worlds better.  I promise you that.  

So, let Aunt Mable criticize the turkey for the 15th year in a row.  Let her tell you that purple really isn't your color.  And then look her in the eye and ask her, openly and honestly, why she feels the need to criticize you every year.  She may deny it, she may defend it, but whatever she says, it's better than swallowing your feelings... again. 

And then make sure you show each person in your world (even Aunt Mable) that you care, that you appreciate them in some way (even if it's hard to find, everyone can be appreciated for something).  It can be a small show of appreciation (like a compliment or a smile, so long as it's genuine), or a big show, like a direct "I love you" or a long conversation.  Whatever else you do at the closing of this year, do this.  You have no idea how good this feels, to put some good will into the world, and you have no idea how much good you might actually be doing, whether you can see the proof of it or not. Either way, it may very well save your holidays.  And it most surely will save your soul.  


Sarah Franz-Wichlacz said...

happy thanksgiving my dear, such sound advice from that wonderful heart and brain of yours. hope you more than survived your holiday... ((HUGS)) (and thank you *so much* for the plug, it's so very much appreciated :)

rusk said...

For real. and now I'll add your blog to my list of things to be thankful for. Happy Holidays.

firespark said...

Sarah - hope you survived yours, too. There's so much more to come! ;) And, how could I not "plug" your critters? I love them so much!

Rusk - Aw, thanks, man! Hope your holidays are everything you want them to be. :)

No New is Good News said...

Hiya! thanks for visiting and I am pleased to report I have seen the latest Harry and am also finding the wait impossible to the next!
look forward to seeing more of your blog :)