Backwards Holidays

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Last year we celebrated a new holiday for the first time, Christmas in July. It was so much fun that I’m already planning our 2nd annual celebration for next month. The reason it was so much fun is that we had absolutely no expectations about how the holiday should be executed, how we should feel, what we should buy, or what was expected of us by others. We were free of the weight of Pinterest, store displays, commercials, and TV specials. We ate some fun food together as a family (and a few friends, too), listened to Christmas music, made Christmas crafts, and played some games. It was perfect and I’ve unexpectedly learned a lot about how holidays affect me as a result.

It wasn’t until we had so much fun with our new holiday that I realized how stressful the real Christmas is for me. There is so much stress due to shopping for 5 kids, a husband, and assorted family members within budget and also while providing an equal number of gifts to everyone that are as thoughtful as can be. It’s a busy time of year, which is stressful for my introverted self. It’s cold and dark. Everyone else seems to be on the ball with meaningful Advent practices or stupid Elf on the Shelf stuff. I worry. That’s pretty much the gist of it. I worry.

And then Andrew and I had a conversation the night before Father’s Day this year in which he jokingly told me that Father’s Day should be in the fall so guys can spend the day watching football. Inspired by Christmas in July,  I went into my calendar and made an event for the weekend before Halloween called Fall Father’s Day For Football Fans. We will be celebrating it for the 1st of perhaps many times this year. Now I have another unique holiday that I can have fun with while leaving expectations and the Hallmark aisle out of it. Because of course Father’s Day stresses me out, too. I fear I’m not going to make it special enough or get a good enough present or whatever. No such worry with my made up Father’s Day!

I asked my kids over dinner if we could have a whole year where we celebrated all the holidays 6 months after they actually occur. I was only half joking. Christmas in July taught me just how much our experience of the holidays is shaped by the culture around us and that it is possible for celebrations to be joyful instead of stressful, carefree instead of intricately planned and orchestrated, light with play instead of heavy with stuff. No matter what we do with the actual calendar, I know what I am aiming for now and what a happy holiday feels like and I can work on getting there, thanks to our backwards holiday!