It’s a couple days before Christmas and, my brain is checking itself into a hotel. It’s drawing a bubble bath and laying out warm pyjamas. It’s ordering room service and settling in to watch Home Alone for the 5004th time. What can I say? It’s a classic and it’s my Christmas movie.
I think we all have that one movie we have to watch before it feels like the holidays. This is mine, and it’s not Christmas until Kevin shoots the gold tooth baddy in the groin. I know that’s not the iconic scene everyone remembers. It’s not the clue given in charades. I know this, but why did the face slap, scream scene become an instant classic? It’s cute, kinda funny, but it’s not the funniest one in there. It’s not as funny as watching the felons slip down the icy stairs twelve times.
Did I just poke a hornet’s nest with a pogo stick? Sorry, but not really because it’s true. It’s not the best scene in that movie. There I said it. I’m going to hide now. Eep!
Actually, no, I’m not going to hide because I’m in a decent mood today. I can’t be absolutely sure, given my limited expertise but, I think I might, possibly, almost, kind of feel happy. Did I just use the H-word and apply it to my current mental state? It’s a Christmas miracle!
Unlike Home Alone 2 through 4. Enough with sequels already!
I’m exaggerating, slightly. Not about the sequels because I firmly believe that they’ve taken things too far. No, I might be overstating the miraculous improvement of my mood, but it is nice to say that, right now, I’m feeling something that closely resembles a joyful emotion. Or, is it contentment. I can never tell the two apart. Are they one and the same? To feel happy is to feel content? That sounds a bit too philosophical for the day before, the day before Christmas.
Is that Christmas eve, eve? Whatever! I don’t have an answer to any of these questions because I lack the expertise. I’m not sure how to define happiness. I struggle to understand the concept. The word might as well be written in an ancient sand-script dialect, thing. What is sand-script?
I’d google it but we had a big snowstorm, and the power has been out for over twelve hours. I’m chasing my dying computer battery here. Who will win? My fast typing fingers and my over-stimulated mind. Or the power of electricity and the fading current flowing through my laptop. 35% left. It’s a close race, folks.
The idea of happiness is as baffling to me as quantum mechanics or knitting. I understand that these things serve a purpose, and they give a lot of people a great deal of pleasure. That’s awesome, amazing, wonderful, but I don’t get it.
When it comes to the broad strokes and the fact that these things exist? I’m with you, and I appreciate the art behind the science. Understanding the complexities, intricacies, the nitty-gritty? Nope, I’m lost. You just sit there with needles and wool? Twirling your fingers until a sweater manifests itself?
That’s not to say I don’t experience happiness at all because I do. Right now, the warmth of this elusive feeling is thawing out my chilly toes. It’s stopped by for a visit, and we’re enjoying a good conversation. I made a pot of tea and some sandwiches. Happy is a good friend that has come back to town after being away for awhile. You know, its been off, finding itself.
We’re comfortable, having fun, and there are a lot of laughs. But, it’s only a visit, and we will part ways with a hug. Don’t be a stranger! Come back soon. Miss you already. Call me!
Is this normal? Is the fact that I have to ask that question indicative of my overall mental health? Mm, yes to all of the above and maybe to whatever comes next.
I have, it would seem, the emotional IQ of a toddler and the emotional range of a Tony Award-winning dramatist. I have plenty of feelings, on a wide range of topics, but I can’t identify or name most of those feeling words. Well, except for anxious, depressed, and floopy. I feel those in abundance.
But at this precise moment? I think I feel happy. Though, I’m not entirely sure, so let’s not ruin it by asking philosophical questions. What is happiness? Nope, I’m not touching it. Is contentment the same thing as happiness? What did I just say? How do you define happiness? Not today, Satan!
Too far? Mm, okay, Satan has nothing to do with it, and now it’s kind of bringing me down. No, don’t go Happy! I just made finger sandwiches. Who doesn’t like that? Who else has to bribe Happy to stay?
Phew, it worked, and Happy is sticking around. Good old finger sandwiches, you never let me down. But if I keep talking about Satan and asking too many questions, it’s going to pack its bags and leave town. Shush, it’s sitting back down on the sofa. Don’t startle Happy!
While I have it here, sitting on my sofa, it wouldn’t hurt to make small talk, right? So, what brings you around today, Happy? I’m not trying to pry, just making conversation. Being a good hostess. Another sandwich? Christmas, you say? That’s what brought you to my humble abode. Interesting. Go on.
Christmas is just a hop and skip away and, while I’m not a holiday lover, I still enjoy the tradition of it all. The sparkly lights shinnying through the stormy weather. Yeah, that’ll get me home. Lawns decorated with inflatable doodads. In some cases, it looks like a garage has vomited and, at any other time, we’d call it littering. This time of year, it’s called spirit and creativity.
Go figure, but I kind of love it. It’s a tradition! And if you can say that word instead of singing it like that guy in Fiddler on the Roof, then bless you. I can’t. Whenever I say it, I have to resist the urge to belt-out, TRADITION! See, couldn’t help myself.
Oh, and Christmas presents!
Wow, my ADHD is supercharged today. It’s funny how it ramps up when I’m happy, content, and all the other positive emotions. It’s like my mind is walking out of a fog, and it wants to run through the snow like a kid who’s just gotten the call that schools been cancelled. It flops down, makes a snow angel, and then runs off to make a snowperson. Before it can add the carrot nose, it sees a box wrapped up all pretty, and it has to investigate.
Happy, it would seem, makes my mind bouncy.
Oo, my brain sees a present under a tree, and it’s jumping up and down with childlike excitement. It’s a great tradition, giving gifts to the people we love and getting some in return. Yes, I know it’s an added stress for a lot of reasons. It’s something that’s been giving me a lot of anxiety this year, but then I found the magic of the small gift, and I’m really getting into it.
A good gift doesn’t have to cost anything other than time and some thought. It can be something that says, I see you and love you. It can be the perfect card that puts a smile on their face. It can be something you made with macaroni and super glue. Or a witty joke written on the back of a paper napkin. Though, word of advice, don’t write on the back of your mom’s fancy cloth napkins. If she calls it a serviette? Then it won’t be received in the way you intend and, yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.
The best gift you could give, though, could be a long-overdue hug. Which almost happened to me this weekend, but it’s against the COVID rules. Damn it. So close! Yet, so far.
I saw a friend in person for the first time in almost a year. We were safe, masked, and kept the required six-foot distance. But, when I saw her, it took every ounce of strength to stay away. I wanted to run up and give her a hug. I’m not even a hugger! Usually, physical contact makes me extremely uncomfortable and slightly nauseated. Now, after a horrible year for both of us, dear God, a hug would’ve been the most perfect gift I could’ve received.
We settled for proximity because neither one of us can risk getting sick or passing on the virus. We believe in science and trust the wisdom of those who have dedicated their lives to studying contagious diseases. Facts not fear. That’s my pandemic motto.
Still, being together was incredible, and maybe that’s why I’m feeling happy today? Even though we couldn’t hug, stand closer than six feet, or take our masks off, we were still in each other’s presence. We got to have a moment of shared space that wasn’t facilitated by a screen or a telephone. We looked each other in the eyes without having to wait for the connection to buffer out.
There’s no substitute for real-world contact with someone you love. Technology has helped us get through this bizarre year, and it will help us have a very different Christmas. We will get to see our loved ones in some capacity, and that’s brilliant. I’m very grateful for it. It’s just not the same, is it?
That’s why so many people are planning to ignore all of the health and safety guidelines. It’s why I’ve been hearing a lot of talk that borders on childish petulance from grown adults. I would criticize them, but honestly, I can’t say that I blame them and, I want to react the same way.
I won’t! And I wish they wouldn’t either. The only way we all get to have a better holiday next year, with all the people we love in attendance, is to spend this season connecting over technological wizardry. It’s the safest thing for all of us, and it’s what my family is planning to do.
Again, it’s not the same, and I’m feeling the desperate pull towards the people I love. I want to sit around the table, eat good food, and enjoy the chaos of too many conversations happening simultaneously. If you think my writing style is wild, then come and have dinner with my family. A group of hyperactive people with wildly sporadic attention spans is the epitome of bouncy thoughts and erratic banter.
And I love it! I miss it. I miss them so much!
Oh great, now Happy is threatening to walk out but wait! Just wait. Give me a minute because this isn’t about how much I miss my people. It’s about those few minutes I spent with a dear friend. Someone I think of as a sister! Someone I’ve only been able to see over Facetime for close to a year. Someone who’s there for me when I’m at my lowest and can lift me up to my highest with one phone call. Someone I can be my honest, real self with. Someone who thinks I’m just the right amount of weird.
That kind of friendship, in my experience, is so rare and precious. How lucky am I to have someone like that in my life? And I got to see her in person for a few minutes. We exchanged Christmas gifts, resisted the urge to hug, and then went our separate ways. When I got home, we watched Home Alone together even though it’s not her favourite movie.
There are a hundred movies that she would’ve rather watched! Hell, she might’ve even chosen Ant-Man over Home Alone, which says a lot. But she watched it with me because, in my mind, it’s not Christmas until that kid defends his home and commits, what I assume, are half a dozen felonies.
That’s it. That’s why I’m happy. I’m feeling grateful for a silly tradition that brought us together and created a sense of normalcy in a year that’s been chaotic, strange, and downright ew. I’m grateful for the gift she gave me, but the real gift was just seeing her in person and sharing the same space for a few minutes.
That’s where I found, what I assume, is happiness and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Now I have 9% battery left, and the power just came back on! Another reason to be happy. This day, it’s a good one, my friend.