Is the Grinch Spirit an equally valid emotional track that winds through the holidays? I'm probably not "you're a mean one, mr Grinch," but I certainly feel less cheerful as the amount cheer in the rest of the folks around me goes up. That could be part of my general 'inability to integrate' as a result of systemic failures in family of origins, a nice way of saying sometimes life sucked, but what I'm experiencing today seems to go beyond the normal holiday melancholy and the desire to turn a Charlie brown Christmas tree into something transcendent.
Take the candy thing for instance. I don't want candy. I don't want cake, either. Both of these things abound in our offices and are given, genuinely, but still, it feels like a compulsory token and I am tempted to Grinch out and say something like "Do I look like I need more processed sugars in my life?" So far, I've mustered a smile, partly because I'm in a new place, and people here are really caring, nice folks... Umm. Interestingly, I've worked with genuinely not nice folks, and I didn't fit in there, either. So, if there is a Grinch spirit, it certainly doesn't encapsulate everyone, or make them more loveable, even if they have a little dog that suffers their presence. (And I typically say if you have a dog, you can't be all bad, but then I met that guy at the park yesterday, and his dog looked equally unfriendly, and my son was pointing out 'ma' the Thai word for dog, and I'm like agreeing, 'yes, very good, dog,' as I slowly back us away from a potential karmic catastrophe. (If someone and their dog demands personal space, I'm going to make that happen.))
But, and this is that big but, where I am getting tripped up is when asked a variation of the following: "Ready for the holidays?" "So, what are your plans for the weekend?" "Are you spending the holiday with family?" (Saying no to any of the above automatically requires explanation, one I don't wish to provide.) You might imagine someone as articulate and creative as I that there might be a standardized response to seemingly innocuous questions, and I could manage to skate past the "how are you?" "I'm fine" rhetorical engagements that pass for office etiquette. There are reasons we wear masks. It isn't necessary or even wanted, by me or others, to unwrap history to allow insight into the peculiarities or our personal responses. But my miss-steps seem tangible. (Maybe because of my unwavering compulsion to try and be honest. Like, are we going to perpetuate the Santa Clause myth with my son? and will that impact his social life?) Someone remarked, today, just a little earlier: "You seem less than enthusiastic..." which means I clearly failed to 'dodge.' Surprisingly, as she unwrapped some of her history, she revealed that she has valid reasons to be less than enthusiastic. Was she looking to me for hope? Are we all trying to live vicariously through Walt Disney lenses. (I saw the latest Disney/Star Wars film. Spoiler alert. Family drama sucks.) What did I give her? Did I reflect back, hopefully humanely, yeah, "It is what it is." (The fact she was safe unpacking her stuff in front of me says something, too. (Is this real?))
I know Ellis (REBT) would point out my belief is in the way, but what about other people's expectations? Or is this my expectation of other's people's expectations of my expectations? Ughh! Okay, so I strive for that Zen sort of neutrality that allows for both joy and despair, and I can graciously count all my blessings. I am safe, as is my family. I'm not rushing to get past the holidays, or beat my emotional state into a blithe conformity, but as I reflect on the idea of "what we resist persists" I think, maybe I should explore this more. I am safe. I can be "Grinch/not Grinch." I'm certainly not so entrenched that I will require the interventions of the three ghosts of Christmas, past present, and future, cause I'm not that guy, either. There is love and there is compassion, but this is not my holiday, and there is no number of Star Trek ornaments that can flip it. If there is a tipping point, I've not found it, yet. Have you? Are you safe to just be?