About 10 days ago I had an email from my friend Catherine. She's spending her first Christmas in Europe and noticing the differences - no Christmas music in stores, feeling like it's not really all that holiday like...
I remember feeling the same way 8 Christmases ago. I had been in Luxembourg for almost a year and thought I knew a lot about living there. But then the holidays came and it didn't feel right. There were no Christmas carols on the radio or in the stores. There were lights up but still... I remember driving to Myles & Cathie's for Christmas dinner in the rain and feeling oh so blue. Though it was hard to stay blue with Cathie's perogies on offer!
Now I am suffering for the reverse effect. There has been Christmas music for going on 2 months now - even radio stations that have been playing nothing but Christmas music since the 1st of December! Everywhere you go you are bombarded by "Christmas Cheer" - it's a bit overwhelming to be honest.
For all our vows to not get caught up in the hype it's hard not to. Going to Toys'r'us almost a month ago was already a frantic occasion. I can't quite put my finger on where it comes from, but there all this pressure to buy gifts, the right gifts for just about everybody.
In retrospect, I used to have to get a lot of Christmas gifts done early to mail. Don't get me wrong, it was still stressful (why is it that gift giving is so stressful?) but at least it was usually done by the beginning of December.
I guess I can also blame a lot of my bah humbugs on other things this year too - Marc's consulting contract coming to an end without any job offers... luckily that one has been resolved in the nick of time and he started a new job on Monday. While I am immensely relieved and proud of him for landing this new job, he still needs to finish up his consulting gig on top of a new job, and at this time of the year that's not fun. Our plans to go to his parents over the holidays - down the drain. We've gotten so used to him not working over the holidays (got to love the NATO shut down for 2 weeks) and now we're happy that he's going to be finished work by 2 on Christmas Eve. It's a lot of changes - in a year where it feels like we've been turned upside down already.
This time last year we were looking forward to 2007 - the last 9 months of 2006 had been challenging (so we thought then!). Now we are looking to 2008. I am aware though in the back of my mind that you can't live your life trying to get from one thing to the next. And that I am turning into a negative person. I have so much to be thankful for in life. Gotta focus on that, and hopefully be jollier next Christmas.
And maybe spend it in the sun - where there's no snow to shovel ;-)