December 25th, 2008 – by: Adrian_Liston
Christmas creates a vast complex network of expectations that bind family together. There are often unarticulated and usually impossible to fulfil, but they are still enforced, creating bonds of guilt. The religious usually have the worst of it, with an increased sense of importance for the occasion and the creation of a higher power to feel guilty towards, but even the secular create the strange shared unhappiness. People end up spending time not with their friends and closest loved ones, but often running around after the extended family. Of course this may include those truly dear to you, but it also includes those you are indifferent towards and even those you actively dislike. There is guilt about not keeping up with people you should have, last minute angst about whether the present is worthy, family traditions that must be followed even if nobody likes them. There are surges of joy and surges of concealed anger, and yet the entire fabricated network is towards those you are bound to by an accident of birth (sometimes with good luck, other times bad). Many Christmases I have hidden myself away from this morass, but now I find I can enjoy them if I just ignore the invisible bonds others try to tie around you, and just embrace those you willing choose to participate in.