I dont remember when I stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, or even God for that matter. I do know that I must have been very young when this happened, because I never remember actually believing in any of them. I think the cerebral nature of me as a child, the propensity to over-think everything, even as a 5 year old, combined with the violent way our house celebrated these days provided little room or incentive for believing in little more than survival and self-preservation.
What do you believe in? When you think of holidays (not the english, snooty way to say "vacation"), do you think of Santa Claus, family, and being thankful for what you have?
At least I didn't until last year. This year I find myself feeling a little different, a little more comfortable and happy as I contemplate why we as humans feel the need to partake in the recognition of "holidays." Some of the most important people to me are not around anymore to celebrate holidays with. It is sad when this is a motivating factor, but it really does drive home the importance of saying "I love you" when given the opportunity. And now I see that the holidays can be our choice. See, I can make a difficult choice by putting myself in a position to be around some people I feel the world would be better without, if it means seeing just one of the people I love. That is a choice I can make. And I can tolerate the bad for a while to be with the good. Sometimes I have a good enough perspective whereby I can even appreciate them for their ridiculousness.
Why is it so hard? Maybe its the few, very few times we are FORCED to see for ourselves what we have chosen in life. It is the times when we are too timid and polite and despite everything inside of us screaming to go the opposite direction we pretend. We pretend that we really can stand some of those "relatives" who bring the taste of bile to bear. We are forced to sit at the table, face to face with our choices. We stare at each other, perhaps pretending to enjoy it, perhaps not, and realize how we have chosen to live our lives. No hiding anymore; holidays will bring the truth out of you whether you like it or not. At least in my family, growing up, this truth was not happiness. These "holidays" were usually when the truth that surfaced was ugly and bitter. It is not a shock that I resisted these sorts of rituals for greater than 90% of my adult life.
I realized all of this on the Friday after Thanksgiving, just a few days ago, now, when I was driving on the unusually sunny day to the lab because I had work to do. It was beautiful and sunny outside-- strangely so considering it had rained almost 3 straight weeks. I was wondering what was wrong with me for going to work in a window-less lab, on a project that wasn't even really important to me. I didn't really have a choice, if I want to graduate someday...