Constant Change: As the holiday season approaches

Appreciating the holidays in a different way


Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Oishee Misra

It’s that time of the year again. The time when the air smells a little crisper, the leaves crunch as boot-clad feet tread over them and the sun peeks out a little less frequently. The time when Starbucks brings out their exquisite cups, stores begin stringing up amalgamations of lights and turkeys go on sale. Enticing as this may sound to the majority of people that the holiday season enthralls, it’s also the time of year when tests begin piling up, libraries begin crowding and that ‘Hide Grades’ option on Schoolloop is most definitely the only thing keeping me from sinking into a pit of despair.

I used to have it all planned out. Months before Halloween, I’d draft out costume ideas. The day after Halloween, I’d make a list of all the clothes I wanted to buy on Black Friday, all the things I wanted on the menu for Thanksgiving, my Christmas letter to Santa, a careful tally of all the uneaten versus eaten candy from my Halloween haul (usually this turned into ‘let’s find out where Mom hid my bucket’) and who knows what else.

Now— it’s a little less exciting. The grandiose holiday planning has now morphed into planning my finals study schedule (in contrast to the previous one, this plan usually fails to be properly executed due to my napping and procrastinating tendencies, but we’ll go along with my pretense). But it’s not just me. It seems as though every holiday season since I entered high school, everyone around me is hearing less jingle bells and more alarm bells (yet I consistently sleep through all 12 of my alarms on a daily basis).

When I first realized this, I was angry. I was angry that my favorite time of the year had been ruined because I had too many things to do when all I really wanted to do was shop for scarves on Amazon. I was angry that the time of year that’s supposed to be filled with heartwarming movies and shopping for gifts has instead become filled with a desperation to bring those grades back up. Being busy has ruined this year’s holiday season and it will ruin next year’s holiday season and the year after that and the year after that until I eventually die (real positive, I know).

Despite my anger, the fact remains that I’m a slightly dysfunctional teenager (it’s currently 1:57 a.m. and I’m on my kitchen counter typing this but that’s beside the point) and I’m starting to realize that I, along with a majority of my friends and classmates, need to quit the complaining.

I know, this does come across as hypocritical of me, considering the fact that I just spent a couple hundred words complaining and then abruptly told myself and everyone else to quit it –– but there’s a point to my ramblings. I’ve repeatedly emphasized that my packed life has rendered me unable to properly enjoy the holiday season, that my attempts at enjoying the little things in life have been unsuccessful. I’m constantly voicing my displeasure at not being able to live more nonchalantly because I’m either stressing about the present or anxiously contemplating the future (apparently I’m incapable of doing this without descending into a spiral of doom).

But I think I’m changing. I’m still convinced that this is hands down the best time of year, although the fact does remain that my busy schedule has kind of put a damper on it. But is that a bad thing? Life goes by at breakneck speed, yet I think I like it that way. I will confess that I believe the whole ‘enjoy the little things in life’ is overdone. Because if I truly were to stop and enjoy every single little thing, first, I wouldn’t have time to sleep, and second, I wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy any of it. So I’m changing in the sense that I’ve realized that even if I didn’t have quite so much on my plate, I don’t think I’d be any happier than I am right now; on the contrary, I think it would alleviate some of its excitement because it wouldn’t feel as special.

Happiness is better when it’s not constant (I know, I’m the next great philosopher). I feel like the younger version of me has labeled the months of October, November and December as the “happy months.” The months where smiles are seen more frequently as well as peace and love and sunshine and rainbows — but that was a younger me. I didn’t think about things other than myself — I was just concerned with what would be under the tree on Christmas day. But that’s not what the holiday season means to me anymore, and I don’t think I want it to. If I were happy all the time, would I really know what being happy meant? Isn’t it better that this season is a small reprieve from life’s monotonous routine rather than a drastic switch from busy to free?

I’m a busy person and my plate is always brimming with things to do. And I’ve fallen victim to the prevalent mindset that being busy is a bad thing, that all of us are doing too much at once and that no one takes time to be happy anymore, but what if being busy is what makes me happy? As much as I’ve ranted about the amount of work I have to get through and the hours of sleep it costs me, the fact remains that I enjoy being busy.

Being busy gives me a purpose. Before high school, I was admittedly a lot less stressed, but I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life. Now, I may be doing too much with my life but too much is better than nothing at all.

Being busy gives me an escape. High school is not the easiest place to be happy in; ironically, it’s far from a high point in life. I constantly feel inferior to a lot of people, and my confidence and self-esteem come in random and extremely unreliable bursts. If I weren’t busy and spent too much of my time appreciating the little things in life, it would inevitably turn into dwelling on all the aspects of my life that didn’t fall perfectly into place. So despite my constant amplification of me being too busy to breathe problems, I’ve realized that without my brimming plate of things to do, I would assuredly be a lot less happy than I am.

Lately, I’ve complained a lot. I’ve expressed my distaste about my busy schedule taking over my previously “happy months.” The feeling isn’t even irrational, because sometimes life does start to reflect the increase of gray clouds in the sky. So maybe my holiday season won’t be the same as the one I used to dream of. But right now, I’ve realized that life isn’t all sunshine and flowers. So I want me and the rest of my fellow complainers to know: it’s the holiday season. There are more clouds in the sky, but that only means that there are more silver linings.