I don't know where to start. I was sick with a very bad fever sometime around the second week in November. Since then I haven't felt quite right. I've been tired and apathetic, very depressed and emotional. A good bit of it is situational, and it's the same old stuff. Life is going nowhere. I want a family of my own and don't have one. I can't get a job. Blah blah blah... But some of it doesn't make much sense. I was dealing with all of these things before. What happened? Did being sick wear me down to a point that I can't handle it? Did the fever create some kind of chemical imbalance that wasn't there before? I wish there was a way to know. I don't want meds. I want resolution! Is it spiritual warfare of some sort? I was doing so well before getting sick. Since then I've written so little and haven't done any reading at all.
Christmas... I couldn't get into it at all this year. I've gradually lost interest in it over the last few years. Part of that is probably because I'm an adult. But I think part of it is also because I'm recognizing that Christmas as it's done in this country is not meaningful to me. I grew up believing that Christmas was supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Christ. I'm sure I got as excited about the presents as any child does, but as I grew older and became interested in spiritual things I became less interested in gift giving and receiving. I needed and wanted Christmas to be a time of spiritual nourishment. I needed it to be what I had always thought it was, even when I was busy getting excited about presents. Last year Christy and I did nothing special for Christmas, and it didn't faze me. I spent some time during December in private worship, thinking about events surrounding the birth of Christ and what this all means for me. I didn't have money for presents anyway, and I was actually relieved to be free of the worry about what to get for whom.
Now I'm back at home, and I came back just in time to have to jump into the fray--and not only was it about gifts for immediate family but also about gifts for my sister's in-laws who I hardly know. I've tried in vain to explain to Mom why I have difficulty with these shows of supposed family closeness. I need reality. I need true depth in my relationships. I don't want people to pretend to be close to me, and I don't want to pretend to be close to them. But that's exactly what happened here this weekend. I wasn't with the people who nurture me and make time for me on a regular basis. I was with people who only see me on holidays, in some cases once every few years, and we all gave each other gifts and pretended we just couldn't wait to see each other. I can't speak for any of the others who were there, but it was very obvious to me that the whole thing was contrived. Some of us had no idea what to get each other and ended up giving things that were so obviously meaningless that it wasn't even entertaining. I tried to give my sister's in-laws things that would be representative of their relationship with her family, but in some cases Mom pulled out these little trinkets and would ask if I wanted to give this to so-and-so. I didn't even feel like I had put real thought into it, and I am ashamed of that. It felt like lying to them!
On top of this, I had no money left to do gifts for people who I really would like to lavish gifts on, and I feel guilty because they aren't my family and it upsets my family that I'm more interested in doing gifts for other people. Maybe once upon a time the family was the extent of people's meaningful relationships. But today the family is busy doing other things and seeing other people, and especially when you get old enough to have your own life they become distant and don't even know you anymore. But you're supposed to be oh, so close--and you're supposed to sacrifice all your truly meaningful relationships for your family on Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, etc. And it hurts.
And then there is the fact that Jesus wasn't even mentioned in this house this year. Everyone opted out of the Christmas Eve service, but that's not even what bothers me. We could have gone and I would still be unsettled. Jesus isn't the center of this holiday. The children are. We may as well rename it childmas. It's all about watching them open presents, making them happy, etc. I'm not opposed to doing that, but I don't like saying one thing and doing something different. If we're celebrating Jesus, then let's do that. If we're celebrating family, then let's not say we're celebrating Jesus! Most of the "Christmas songs" aren't even about Him. They're about snow and Santa Claus giving gifts to children who are good. What about unconditional love??? A gift that is earned by being good isn't even a gift! It all just really bothers me, and to tell the truth I don't have any interest in continuing to participate in this every year. I don't mind doing some seasonal decorations, celebrating the birth of Christ, or even giving gifts if I can give them from the heart and not because everyone someone says should be close to me should get one... But I need to do something different in the future. Somehow I need to differentiate these things and do them in ways that I can put my heart into. I only get to live my life once, and I think I should do it meaningfully.