Thursday, January 2, 2014

why i hate christmas

Oftentimes when I say that I hate Christmas, or when I say that my holidays weren't the greatest, I'm met with a sympathetic response. People no longer want to tell me how great their holidays were, or what awesome gifts they got, and the conversation often stalls awkwardly for a few minutes.

While a part of me can understand this response, most of me doesn't get why it is warranted. If I said that I hated Halloween, it likely wouldn't deter people from telling a ridiculous story about the time they started flirting with Ke$ha before realizing it was a man. But for some reason Christmas is different. I don't even really think it's about religion anymore. There is just this ingrained idea that Christmas is special and sacred and that everybody needs to love it. Unless you don't celebrate. Which people tend to forget is the case for a lot of people.

Ultimately, while there is a certain inherent sacredness to some holidays (for some people), I find that the true magic comes in the memories the holidays hold. At the very least, that is the way in which I think about holidays. For Christmas, the memories aren't particularly special.

My earliest actual memory of Christmas (there are obviously a few more than can be pieced together from pictures... 'oh, I remember that toy!' - but they aren't actual memories) is the year that my father got my mother a cookbook. I don't remember a single thing I got, but I remember how mad my mother was that my father got her something that wasn't for her (despite her apparent love for cooking). After that, I don't remember a single Christmas until I moved to Germany. I remember my mother trying to buy me a few things that she couldn't afford and feeling guilty that she got me anything. The next one was a year later. I was back home in Canada and my Grandmother had sent gifts. I remember how angry my step-mother was that my Grandmother had spent more money on me than on my much younger step- and half-siblings and the ensuing family conflict that it caused. The next memorable one came a few years later when my family set the tree up while I wasn't home. It was one of the few traditions that I enjoyed and I was crushed that they did it without me. The next couple years were unmemorable in any way. I don't recall what I received, I don't recall what we did. They are blank spaces. Then I started University. The first Christmas I spent with the family of my boyfriend at the time. While it was very kind of them to include me, all I could think about was the fact that my own family lived 2 blocks away and didn't invite me, didn't call me, didn't acknowledge my existence. The next year, we were broken up and I spent Christmas alone in silence in my dorm room. 

Since that Christmas alone, I've rekindled with my father who has gone out with an array of girlfriends. Now the holiday isn't defined by my childhood or family or any traditions built over time. It's defined by whoever is girlfriend is... most of them have been lovely and kind but it still doesn't make up for the feeling of lost tradition. There was one who ensured we all got showered with gifts and love and her traditions. Another refused to give me a recipe for a casserole I loved.

This year I couldn't help but stare at the tree that I used to love to help set up. The one that I coated in ornaments carefully taken out of their boxes every year and admired for weeks while it twinkled in lights and tinsel. This year the tree was coated in generic plain bulbs. No sign remained of the ones I remember from my childhood. Part of me wanted to ask my dad where they were, if I could have them. That might be the best Christmas gift I could possibly receive. 

As I stood starting at the tree, I realized I couldn't ask. I realized that I didn't want to hear the answer that I knew would come. While I loved those ornaments and remembered them as the only constant for most of my Christmases; Christmases that spanned both countries and families, they were likely now forgotten in a thrift store, or perhaps a new home somewhere, lost in the countless moves and life changes. 

I couldn't hear that. 

Someday I might like the holiday again. But it'll take awhile for those memories to change. I suspect that once I create my own family and start collecting my own ornaments and creating traditions, they will.

Until then, I will continue to hate Christmas.

new year, new try

It's crazy to think that it's been almost a year since I've written anything on here. Written anything for myself period, really. I don't particularly believe in New Years resolutions - just another way to set yourself up for yearly failures? Or too pessimistic? I do, however, believe in occasionally trying something new. Or returning to something old.

2013 wasn't a great year. It wasn't terrible. I'm sure there have been worse. But it is definitely a year I would like to leave behind. Some things that went horribly wrong in 2013: my plans to move to South Korea fell apart, I had to move into an apartment out of my price range out of necessity, I changed jobs without increasing my pay scale (a mistake, I'm learning), my finances ultimately got a little out of hand (maybe that's a resolution? okay, not a resolution. but seriously, 2014 is the year that I regain control of the dollar), and various health issues got a little out of hand. Good things that happened in 2013? I went to the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington, I saw my best friends in Montreal, I went with another best friend to Vancouver, and... that is all I can think of. Clearly, travel remains in my heart.

And what I'm already looking forward to in 2014? More travel.

Also, reading more books. Taking more pictures. Making more friends.

Not doing these things are all regrets that I have about the past. Sometimes it's hard to get out of regret-mode. You just can't stop thinking about the stuff that you didn't do in the past. That you didn't do adequately enough. Etc. Oftentimes I find my mind consumed with these regrets for things hat I can't change. And in this regret-mode, I'm ultimately wasting more time by continuing to dwell on the past and not move onward and work to do those things in the present. Sometimes it's unavoidable. But insomuch as I can, this will be the year that I avoid that negativity.

This will be the year that I start enjoying life.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

presence

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How much of one's life is appropriate to put online?

To some extent, we are all online whether we choose to be or not. But how much should we really choose to reveal to the world? Some upload all of their inner turmoils. Others upload only the superficial, those surface emotions that are clearly evident to every bystander to their lives.

How much do I want to upload? To some extent, there is a certain amount of animosity when it comes to how much your life even matters to others. Would a potential employer care how you felt on a given subject? Or would they frown upon the raw, straightforward sharing of said subject?

How much does it really matter whether you write your thoughts on a piece of paper, on a word document, or on a blog? Is there really more of a chance that somebody who matters is going to read on any given medium, if you don't give them the knowledge of its existence?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

thoughts on achievement

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[photo taken in munich, germany in august of 2011]

Achievement is such a fickle and funny word, is it not?

What is achievement, really? What is it based upon? Happiness? Accomplishment? But then, what is accomplishment? Having a 'successful' career (again, an ambiguous term)? Having lots of education and many degrees? Having a happy family and home?

Is it person to person? But then, how can we judge our achievements? Or is that even something we are supposed to do? If that is the case, how on earth can we determine success from one person to the next?

And what determines how fruitful we will be in our endeavours towards achievement? Intelligence? Heart? Work ethic?

Too many questions, not enough answers.

I'm sure this is a train of thought that many people struggle with, not just me. But sometimes I wonder if it is just me. What a selfish thing to think, in a sense.

Personally, I struggle with the idea of achievement as it relates to accomplishment and education. As somebody who pursued a University degree, I have many friends who did the same. Some of those friends went on to successful jobs immediately thereafter and some decided to pursue further education. Very few have fallen into the boat of neither accomplishment. If further education isn't what I want, or ever wanted (except, perhaps, law school. another issue altogether.), why do I feel so inferior towards my friends who wanted these things and pursued them? Is it because I know I wouldn't be able to get into a graduate program, even if I did want it? Or even if I could get in, would I still feel this way? Why do I even care? My friends are still the same people they ever were, and while their knowledge may have increased, their being shouldn't have. I think.

Are these thoughts that I would be having had I not had such amazing, ambitious friends?

Why is it that I feel bad about myself just because I haven't figured out what I want to do with my life at the age of 23? Aren't there so many more people who haven't figured this out? Why does everybody I know seem to have figured this out? Why are they all on course to accomplish these goals?

Where did I fall off the boat?