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'Tis that season

That season, you know, the one that's supposed to be filled with joy. But Joy usually doesn't travel alone. We probably wouldn't even recognize it if it didn't evoke sadness, loneliness, loss, or some other emotion we'd prefer to live without. If you haven't seen the film Inside Out, you should. Happiness is a matter of perspective. The things that make me happy may please no one else on this planet, just as what touches my heart, eases my burdens, or fills me with dread might barely be of notice to other souls.

I often feel the pressure and demands of the idea of Christmas as the season of joy. Sometimes it feels like I'm surrounded by people threatening anyone who doesn't smile loudly enough. For much of my life, new traditions were added each year, while the time to enjoy them was shortened. It kept growing until the purpose got lost in the activity and mounting obligations.

I've finally reached a stage in my life when I can choose to take part in the things that are important to me and my closest people. We can choose the scope of our celebrations and which traditions matter to us. And we don't feel that we have to press everything into a few weeks either. For a number of years, we've hosted a big family party at Groundhog Day--not that day precisely, but that's the point. It's generally a blank time in the calendar and seems to suit all the cousins.

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