Ah, the holidays.
If money only magnifies what’s inside, the same can be said for the holidays. Everything is magnified. Just like our neighbor’s house. I mean, how do you compete with that?
We just stand in front of it for holiday photos and people assume it’s ours. Merry Christmas!
Isn’t it nice we can say that again? I mean, this is America after all. People are so sensitive.
Still, you know what I mean about the holidays. If you work the holidays, everyone else is posting pictures of not-to-be-missed parties where Zac Efron makes a shirtless appearance in tandem with Alexander Skarsgard. Sigh… Wait, is that airbrushed?
Meanwhile, our seasonal travelers are dragging presents onboard equivalent to a life-size Darth Vadar and asking you to “stow it,” which of course you can’t do because it won’t fit where you’d like to put it. Or anywhere for that matter.
When I was single, LOVE was everywhere. Every post was a happy family or engagement of some sort, a zing to the lonely heart for those seeking that elusive wonderful someone. I remember, it wasn’t that long ago and now look– I’m posting a couples’ photo!
This year I even saw engagement announcements from people I thought were still married. Those of us who’ve been there know that is somehow the worst of all, seeing someone round home again while you’re still at bat. STR–IKE!
I know how this feels having just got married for the first time in my 40s BUT before you wallow with George Bailey in the delusion that a wonderful life has passed you by, remember what I said about secrets?
FA – LA – LA – LAND!
Those family photos smiling happily in color coordinated sweaters is a posed moment in time as choreographed as any on TV. It’s the holiday illusion social media fosters because no one sees what happens when the camera is off.
We need only look as far as Harvey Weinstein to see the geyser of truth in this. No one doubts the incredible talent of this man in fostering illusion on the screen, but off? The man’s a predatory nightmare.
What about all the little cameras directed at social media?
We don’t see the hard seat Grandma June sits on at the sparkling dinner table with the cushion removed for fear of incontinence or Uncle Bill flossing out the roast beef and leaving the offensive string of particles in the dishes deposited by the sink.
Nor do we see the hours of stress or preparation bringing everyone together for that one moment.
For all we know, little Billy is missing from the picture, off in rehab in the middle of the desert. Maybe one of those happy couples fought all the way to holiday dinner. And only those involved in the magical moment of a proposal can truly know the years of strife and heartache which might have led up to it.
Every single one of those happy holiday posts has some drama behind it we are not privy to, so don’t be so quick to buy into the illusion everyone else is selling. Including me.
JUST WATCH the PARADE
When I was single and my ex of the moment hooked up with a gal I had the pleasure (not) of seeing on a far too regular basis, an older, wiser woman listened to my woes and said something I’ve never forgotten:
“Just watch the parade, Valerie.”
She meant to sit back and watch it all unfold. Detach. That dance of relationship drama down 5th Avenue (or your street for that matter) has nothing to do with you. It’s a dramatic, fleeting moment in time that will pass right on by.
Granted, it takes some practice to sit back and watch. It’s even better if you don’t show up for a front row seat in the first place. Why are you watching the show anyway? Go invest in a ticket to a better one– Yours.
SHOW UP in NEW TERRITORY
Lose yourself in a new hobby that scares you, challenges you and forces you to show up in new territory.
I started surfing in my 40s and it turned my life in a new direction. I made different friends, shared surfing adventures on layovers with crew and met the coolest people everywhere I went — including my husband.
Surfing taught me to be in the present and go with the flow. When a set rolls in and you’re on the inside there is no time to think about what’s-his-name. Depending on your skill and the size of the waves it can be pure survival mode until you get out past the rollers and catch your breath. c
But not for long. You came to surf and the only way in is through. And once you commit there’s no stopping a 5′ wave bearing down on you so what do you do? You ride it.
When I learned to accept what I saw unfolding around me instead of resist it, I finally became content. Those years of endless exposure to relationship drama and public oddities in the airlines (the true birthplace of “WTF?!”) taught me to find the fun in dysfunction. Everywhere.
My friend Dawn once asked me (and I swear in total innocence), “Do you ever make fun of people on the airplane?”
I looked at her with a sense of incredulity. “Honey, that’s ALL we do!”
When I met my husband I was thrilled to find a kindred spirit, my partner in crime.
Our eyes often meet during some of those incredible family moments, like the time we were handed a rule forbidding electronic devices so we could have “face time” (Like you, I wondered how to do this without a phone).
It mattered not that the parentals who sought to enforce it went to bed at 6:pm every night, leaving us to our own devices. All this did was trigger our inner deviant children.
I’d show you our juvenile delinquent photos but it seems all we have are happy ones posed around the turkey. Or our neighbor’s house.