My brother used to play baseball with a couple of brothers, the Rudermans. When the holidays rolled around, they didn't celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or even Kwanzaa. They celebrated Ruderberry Day.
While I never got the full details on exactly what they did on their holiday, I was fascinated by this concept as a kid and the idea of it has stuck with me.
Now I'm no Grinch -- I clear my calendar the night Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on TV, I swap eggnog for milk in my coffee throughout December, I tralalalala in the shower -- but the unspoken pressure to have a greeting card holiday takes a big bite out of the joy of the season for me. There are expectations about how things are supposed to be that leave a lot of people feeling depressed that their real-life experiences aren't living up to those manufactured fantasies.
This year, things began to build even earlier, when I literally stumbled over holiday decorations in London in mid-October. The English, with no Thanksgiving to buffer the steep slide to the holiday, were already speeding towards it full force. Back in Los Angeles, things weren't much better; the drugstore on my corner had their holiday items front and center barely a week into November and the radio station that switches to all holiday programming followed suit. Maybe it's that my life is feeling a little transitional at the moment but try as I might, I'm not feeling very Martha this year.
A few years ago, I sent holiday cards in late January, wishing everyone a 'abby holiday. Though at the time, it was sort of a joke on the fact that I am always late (Really, I'd meant to send cards at the holidays but somehow never got around to it), that option is feeling very tempting. I've got a couple of projects that will be finished then and I'll definitely feel like celebrating. Then too, almost everyone I know is going out of town for the holiday but I'm staying here. I could dread it -- this is an awkward time of year in Los Angeles when we try to reconcile snow visions with palm tree reality -- but I've decided to embrace it. There are plans for hiking and baking and spa-ing, there are also plans for bombing through every single episode of some TV show I've always been curious about but somehow missed; spending the whole day in bed devouring a couple of those books I've been meaning to get around to; cleaning out the office; reading all those half-finished stories in my files and seeing which ones are worth salvaging; wandering stores and museums and streets without a plan, curious about what people are wearing and buying; having a day of dedicated eating, hopping from new restaurant to new restaurant; finally painting the living room; and, getting in the car and taking a long drive with no destination in mind. No, it's not everyone's idea of how to spend the holiday. There are no traditions, no family and not too much partying (unless you count that food-engorged day) but this year it's my idea of an 'abby holiday: staying home.
Image: Abigail Stone