When I was in 6th grade I was chosen to play Charlie Brown in my school’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Unless you are from another planet, then you know that Charlie Brown is the lovable loser of the famous comic strip “Peanuts”. In a Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown finds himself depressed with the approach of Christmas despite all the decorations, cards and presents.
As fate would have it, I was chosen in the 7th grade to play the Grinch in our school’s production of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” Unless you’ve been living in a cave all your life, you may be familiar with the story of the Grinch, a bitter, cave dwelling creature who lives on the top of Mt Crumpit and who looks down on the residents of Whoville with distaste and envy as they prepare for Christmas.
I don’t know whether it was my incredible ability to transform myself into any character (probably not) or my own somewhat cynical nature even as a kid (probably), but my experience in the past with the holidays has been similar to those two characters. I’d either get annoyed by the commercialization of the season or I’d look with disdain on those that started to scurry around right after Thanksgiving, gathering gifts and decorations like squirrels gathering nuts. In other words, I would pretty much get a case of the Holiday Blues each winter.
Like Charlie Brown, I’d muddle through each season with melancholy and/or aggravation, or like the Grinch, I’d simply refuse to participate. Maybe I thought I would be able to steal Christmas and stop it from coming by staying perched on my mountain of cynicism. But come it did. Either way, I simply did not enjoy the holidays or look forward to them coming.
There really wasn’t anything in my life to be depressed about. I almost always managed to get home to be with my parents and 7 siblings, never had anything tragic happen during the holidays, and always had enough money to buy some token gifts. However, I knew many people who could not say the same.
Anyway, it was in the last few days of the 90s, December 25th, 1999, that I found myself sitting in the Saguaro National Park outside Tucson, Arizona. It was one of those few years that I didn’t make it back to LA. I had hiked into the desert on that clear, sunny morning to sit in the warm sun and just be by myself. At first, it felt strange that I wasn’t hanging out with some friends, or maybe even in church. But you know what? Sitting there in that magnificent desert felt more peaceful to me than any church.
I realized then that I had a choice, that I could make the holidays mean whatever I wanted them to mean, or ignore them completely if I chose. I also realized that if I wanted to feel cynical or depressed, well, that was my choice as well. The reality was that I was indeed very fortunate to be sitting there in that desert in the first place, that I had someone to call if I wanted to, and that I really did had nothing to complain about. I made the decision then and there to quit playing the Holiday Blues and find a new tune.
Perhaps you are out of work. Maybe you’ve lost someone dear to you at this time of the year. Perhaps you are suffering from other challenges, either emotional, physical or financial. If so, try to realize that there are many different ways you can play it, if the song you are hearing is doing nothing for you.
You can create your own meaning about this time of year, one that resonates with you. You can create your own traditions. Or not. It’s your life, play your own music, what you hear deep down inside. Get some alone time, get yourself some peace. If you need help, call me. Or click on this link and dance the Snoopy Dance, if nothing else.