Do you get the blahs toward the end of the year? Is it like a creeping slime mold that drags itself out with the first Thanksgiving turkey and doesn’t disappear until after President’s Day? I don’t know about you, but that’s how I get.
Holidays have always been difficult for me. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to deal with it. Be cheerful. Think positively. Create new “traditions.” Call your friends. Yeah. Right.
Here’s what I discovered about derailing the seasonal blahs. I’m going to use it in upcoming years. And it’s not the “same-old” cheery “same-old.”
Last year, I attended Christmas Eve Services at the downtown church near the park. This is a church with rainbow flags and a tagline written in big letters on the side wall: “We welcome all.”
The church was old, the wall plaster thick with vanilla-colored paint. The faith community came together to create and perform the service. I zeroed in on “Jingle Bell Rock,” an original rendition in horns.
The Jingle Bell Rock performers appeared to be an adoptive family. The adults were short, sixty-ish, and white; they didn’t seem like they could be biological parents to their accompanying teens.
Sturdy and sensible, the woman blew a trumpet. As far a melody went, the trumpet took one path while the rest of the group took another. At the other end of the ensemble–and equally oblivious to the actual music–the older gentleman honked out something on the saxophone. From their proud glances at one another, I assumed they were a couple.
Flanked by their parents, the children were brown, handsome, and played with that same forthright, independent spirit, i.e., I’m goin’ this way with this music, you can do what you want! Perhaps Latino, the boy blared his way through the song on his French horn. His sister, who was maybe twelve, slapped a tambourine festooned with red bells without staying on the beat at all.
She was slim, latte-colored, and looked Eritrean. She glanced at her fellow family performers with affection and regarded all of us in the audience. Studded with red sequins, her neck wrap glittered in the candlelight. I imagined her hearing the Christmas carols as we heard them, the melody and the beat coming and going in unique directions, squeaking and squawking to the end. She looked embarrassed, as any teen would. But when the audience burst into applause at the end, she bowed like any gracious performer.
The scene reminded me of growing up in the cacophony of my family. I was often embarrassed, at odds with everyone else. I also felt the same affection for us. All of us going in different directions, out of tune with one another, we made the best of it anyway. Maybe to some extent, this is what being family is.
When that old draggy bleakness comes upon me at the end of the year, I now have a prescription to help me through: find one detail of the season that enchants me, and write. Here’s mine:
Find your own rhythm, even if it doesn’t fit.
If there is applause, bow.
Lou Ellyn Jones helps people find their voice. Her website is www.helptofindyourvoice.com.