Christmas is upon us.  Which means a raft of activities all this month leading up to the grand holiday itself.  Not only is there decorating and shopping and holiday parties and school events, plus church events and volunteering and charity work and that extra toy for the toy drive….Ok, that’s just one part of it.  Then there is the math of relationship evaluations.  Yep, it’s math and not just the economic kind.  Christmas has become a schizophrenic holiday in that, on the one hand it promotes the best actions and emotions from people helping us all strive for the best kind of society in the micro and macrocosm.  Yet it also causes us to look at our relationships, friendships, and family with the hardened mindset of a warrior going into battle.

There’s who is hosting Christmas afternoon, day, eve and that’s an algorithm that includes not only logistics but status in the hierarchy and relevance to the clan.  Then there is who gets invited to these events, which is another algorithm that includes the hot potato of getting that uncle/aunt/cousin who is awful and always ruins everything.  Then there are those who get a present sent to them and those who don’t.  Who gets just a card and who doesn’t even get a nice card but one you don’t particularly like but need to use up.  And meanwhile, the social armor is getting put on.  You’ll be in proximity with people you know, possibly too well, and any emotional drama that is going on right now will either be studiously avoided, therefore boiling under the surface and making things awkward for everyone, or erupt anyway making things even more difficult or awesome depending on how ludicrous the entire thing is and whether a food fight ensues.  Then there are the not so current issues that get aired every year which strike fear and cause nausea in the faint of heart.  Nothing says Christmas quite like being asked if you are ever getting married or are you just too shy to come out of the closet….*sigh*

Now, I know that many people don’t have all of that going on, not are as cynical as I’ve portrayed this, and yet I’m betting most of us recognize several facets of my description as the holiday they are gearing up for or are currently in full swing with.  So let me put this out there and see what you think:  What if we chose to do things differently? *gasp*

I know.  Take a minute and let that set in……*humming*…..*soft whistling while I wait*…..Ok, so here’s the thing.  I challenge you to challenge every single part of the holiday that you’ve traditionally done for all these years.  Every single one.  Start with Christmas cards.  Do you need to send them?  Do you need to send them to everyone you usually send them to?  Do you need to send the kind you usually send or do you want to do something different instead?  Just that one item should get you thinking.  It should start your brain pinging through not only the traditions but your identity that is connected with them.  Because we do identify with our Christmas traditions.  The negative ones as well as the positive.  And many times we have difficulty switching tracks if things aren’t going well.  We just go through the same thing over and over again.  So why not do it differently?  Instead of buying presents for your family, take that money and buy a trip to someone sunny for Jan/Feb/March?  Or someone cool if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?  It’s off-season and the rates are good.  You can put pictures of the trip into stockings with some smaller things that can be opened and then know you’re giving something you actually want and will use.  No need to go back to the store to exchange a trip to Mexico. 🙂

Think about the guest list this year.  Do you need to invite those people?  Do you want to invite other people?  Do you want to have a party at all?  Do you want to go at all?  These are things to ponder this year.  If you do want to go, do you need to act the same way you’ve always acted, doing the same things you’ve always done, or can you bring who you are right now or who you want to be to this year’s celebration?  If someone asks you the same old question, perhaps you can give them a different answer.  Perhaps a truthful one or one that wakes people up to the absurdity of it all.  Or perhaps you can play ‘selective deafness’ for this year.  Any question or comment you don’t want to deal with for whatever reason, you just don’t hear it.  Act as if it didn’t happen at all and keep on with the conversation.  Even if everyone is looking at you.  Silence and refusal to play are highly underrated tools of social communication.  But they work wonders.

Think about doing it differently this year.  Think about making this Christmas not just about traditions, but about you and who you truly are.  I’m pretty sure it would be spectacular.