Friday, November 29, 2013

The holidays are here again...

I've had some good holidays over the years, and, some bad ones, just like everybody else I'm sure. I'm almost always the outsider though, the guest who isn't related to anybody else. While I'm not by any means saying that there's something wrong with that - in fact, I quite appreciate that I usually end up spending moments with friends, it's a different perspective than what most people experience. So, to that effect, the holidays have always meant something different to me, than they typically do to most people. Most people, from what I've gathered, enjoy the holidays for the sense of family they bring, when you go visit your relatives who live far away, or they come visit you, and the whole group gathers together in one place for possibly the only time of the year.

Looking in from that perspective, and having zero hope of ever being with my whole family around the holidays, it's a little bit funny at how people react to this time of year. Thanksgiving was just yesterday, and, I was invited by a friend, to attend with him and his wife, a dinner prepared by their friends. Neither had family in the area, so they've become like family to each other, even though they're not related. Because of that aspect, I actually really enjoyed the evening with everybody. Despite not knowing the friends before hand, nor them me of course, we clicked and everything just was awesome.

By the end of the night, aside from being shitfaced "mildly intoxicated", I had a warm feeling in my heart (as well as my stomach) that the individuals I'd just met, not to mention the individuals I went there with in the first place, were very upstanding people, who made me feel welcome on the same level they were welcomed in, and there wasn't really a separation of family and friends like so many places I've been before. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better holiday this year, and in fact, it was far better than many previous years. It was small enough that everybody got to actually hang out and talk with everybody else, not some 20+ people around the same table, vying for the attention of everybody else. I even got a potential job offer.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, though, the real torture begins. Black Friday came and went, and aside from a ton of fights at Walmart (No surprise there), it's been mostly business as usual. I avoided any kind of shopping today in person and caught up on some coding, some NetFlix (on the last season of Breaking Bad right now), and some projects I've been helping out with. But because of it being Black Friday, the thought of the coming holiday kept popping up in my mind. Buying presents is never something I'm anywhere near "good" at, and am at most, mediocre, if not down right horrible. I'm also fairly difficult to shop for, or so I've been told, because there's only 3 things I really ever want, and none of those are ever easy to come by, or purchasable at a shop in any quantity other than zero. So usually I avoid the whole shebang, mail out my Solstice cards, and that's usually it. I've been invited to a few places over the years, too, as well as had a small thing with my roommates at the time, which was all nice, but it wasn't anything overly special. I was either outside looking in, or, it was just very low key and not much emotion to begin with, similar in stature to a gift exchange at an office party perhaps. Over all, my expectations have always been fairly low.

This year, however, I'm trying something different. I'm picking up a little something for every one of the people in my life I'm thankful for. Something small, maybe a gift card, or a shirt; something meaningful, yet modest. The challenge is going to be in picking up something that will match everybody well enough. This year's list is actually pretty small, all things considered. The past couple years have resulted in a bit of refactoring who I consider important, and who I consider a friend. I've been a fair bit more social this year, meeting a number of new people who are pretty awesome and epic in my book. Of course, I've met my fair share of pompous assholes, too (I'm looking at you, Mr. Downey), but over all, the good has outweighed the bad, if only marginally. I think this year's holiday fiasco will actually be much better than I expect, though my expectations are so low that isn't difficult. I'm actually thinking that this year has the potential to be the highlight of all holidays going back 20+ years for me, but of course no expectations of such so that in the event it doesn't live up to that, I'm not disappointed. It's given me hope, though, for the first time in a long time, and I'm not even hiding behind Solstice this time. Yea, I might actually do Christmas for really the first time in forever. Here's looking forward to a chance to change, and move on in a positive direction for once. Cautious Optimism has been engaged.