I’ve worked at least a dozen Christmas Eve’s serving food to customers who either had no where else to go or were on vacation. Since Christmas was not a big deal to me, I always volunteered to work, so someone else could be home with family or friends.
Growing up with an alcoholic mother made the holidays unpredictable. Sometimes they were amusing, like the year she took pictures of the indoor plant, thinking it was the Christmas tree; other times she was pissed off my dad didn’t buy her a better gift. If we got lucky we spent Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house and I got to play with my cousins and see my grandma.
When I grew up and lived on my own, I got invited to Christmas dinner at a friend’s house. I really didn’t want to go but went anyway so I wouldn’t seem rude. When I started working as a waitress in diners that stayed open Christmas Eve, I had an excuse. I had to work! The last restaurant I worked at was six years ago and it was packed with families who chose to eat out instead of mom (Admit it. You know she did all the work) working all day to cook a meal that would be eaten in thirty minutes. There were also no dirty dishes to wash.
Along with those families, a few individuals would sit at the counter and sulk. These were the ones who didn’t get an “invite” to someone’s home. They felt cheated. They went on and on how miserable they were. (I am not writing about those who are depressed enough to contemplate suicide. I’m well aware the suicide rate goes up in December. The individuals I’m writing about are sour pusses all year. I know because I served them food).
After years of observation, I’ve come to the conclusion that we (or at least some of us) make too big a deal out of this holiday. If you celebrate Christmas because it’s considered the birthday of Christ, that’s one thing. Of course it’s an important holiday to Christians. But if one is sulking because one isn’t invited to someone’s house, maybe they should examine their behavior. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves maybe they could volunteer to spend time with someone who can’t go anywhere else, like those stuck in a hospital or convalescent home. How about serving food at a soup kitchen? There are oodles of people who would enjoy going to a coffee shop or diner by themselves but can’t because they are too sick or too feeble, or they don’t have money to spend on basic needs you and I take for granted. How many homeless sleep in shelters (if they’re lucky to find one with a vacant bed) or sleep outdoors on Christmas Eve? They have good reason to feel bad. But you know– they don’t. They are grateful to be alive. I know because some of the customers I served on those nights were homeless. It seems the ones who have the least are the ones who are most grateful.
I know I have everything I need or want. I am fortunate to have a comfortable place to live and plenty of food to eat. Many of the ones I heard complaining over the years have a home; a job and food as well. What they could use is an attitude adjustment. Instead of complaining, maybe they could laugh at themselves. We humans tend to take things too seriously. So what, they didn’t get an invite. Maybe they could learn to be happy with their own company instead of looking for happiness from someone else.
If you’re waiting for someone or something to make you happy, forget it. The Buddha said:
This year I will stay home with my pets. Hubby has to work. He works every Christmas Eve and day. I plan to watch funny movies; do some reading and just enjoy the day. I might even stay in my pajamas.
A friend sent me this old clip from a Seinfeld episode. It’s about celebrating Festivus. I think it’s hilarious. I hope you enjoy it too.