Editorial: The New Normal

I once heard a woman say “our Christmas tradition is to make turnovers and watch Hogfather.”

That’s the British for you.

Hogfather is a film adaptation of a satirical novel by Terry Pratchett. It revolves around an assassination attempt against the Hogfather (Santa Clause), which temporarily makes him vanish, leaving Death to take his place and deliver presents to the children of the Discworld, much to the distress of Death’s granddaughter, Susan. Her desire to have a “normal” Hogswatch (Christmas) goes astray as she tries to discern the whereabouts of the Hogfather.

Not everyone appreciates Terry Pratchett. His motto is “if it exists, it can be made fun of.” He belittles the government, he takes pokes at religion, he mocks culture’s fascination with vampires, he creates a world in which monsters actually do live under the bed (until Susan bangs them over the head with a poker and kicks them face-first out the back door into the snow) and Death is actually quite a likable fellow, albeit somewhat clueless when it comes to human traditions. Some of his books are hilarious, others questionable, and a few are even dull, but none of them are what you might call “normal.” I like them due to my askew sense of humor.

Sure, there’s a place in all our lives for the “normal” Christmas movies: all of us like seeing George Bailey choose to live again, we enjoy the triumph of The Miracle on 34th Street, and our mean-streak loves the antics of Home Alone. And yet, deep down, each of us want to fit in and be “normal” but also unique. Normality is what you make of it. What is normal for you may not be normal for someone else. There is no one cookie cutter to fit us all.

Finding my own sense of normal has been a challenge because it is a constant temptation to compare my interests to other people’s. Many of my friends are very much into the holiday spirit. After Thanksgiving (and sometimes before) they drag out all the Christmas ornaments and decorations and listen to holiday music all day long. They wear seasonal sweaters, start firing up the Christmas cookies, and bemoan my lack of a holiday spirit.

And then there’s me.

I don’t hate holiday music, I just get tired of it. I’m not much of a party person and seasonal sweaters are not my thing. While it might be nice to be seen as “normal” in pretending these things were like me, it would be a lie. I’d much rather be seen as a bit weird and true to myself than to pretend I am something I am not!

One of my friends lamented the other day that she could not get her family to spend much time in society and she was worrying that they would not be happy without social interaction. I smiled and then told her that people are the sort who seek out happiness, so if they are not “out in society having fun,” then they must be happy at home. Her Introverted relatives are much happier at home in a familiar space enjoying one another’s company than they would be in what for them would be a stressful situation. We are all incredibly different and none of us need to fret about one another. Just because someone isn’t as into the holiday season as you are doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying it: for some, an expression of joy is lighting up their house so it can be seen for miles; for another, it’s putting up a tree in their front room. It may mean attending Christmas parties for one person, and having a quiet Christmas at home with family for another. We need to learn to give one another space and let one another celebrate in whatever way is natural for them.

Think of the people in your life in terms of Gingerbread Houses: no two are the same and it is their differences that make them truly wonderful. My Gingerbread House this year is a bit bland. I have plans for next year that include crooked, chocolate painted walls and other twisty delights, a house Pratchett would be proud of, waiting for a visit from the Hogfather or Death, whoever happens to turn up.

Weird? Sure. But why not?

4 thoughts on “Editorial: The New Normal

  1. Carol says:

    I don’t get tired of Christmas music, but I do get tired of the radio station playing the same seven songs over and over again. There are so many Christmas songs to choose from, but they only play a tiny fraction of them. :/

    I want to make a gingerbread house next year! We’ve made a few, and they’re fun to make. I bet your house next year’ll be awesome!

    • That is just it!! There is like 10,000 Christmas songs out there, so why play the same 10 ones over and over again all day long?! Drives. Me. Nuts.

      Let’s hope so! ;)

  2. Your Gingerbread House is NOT bland! It’s adorable! :) Especially considering it was your first one, ever.

    I’m rather like that girl’s relatives, very happy at home, surrounded by loved ones instead of trying to force myself to be social in a mixture of acquaintances and strangers. I’m so happy having a homestyle Christmas. I don’t need all the parties and get-togethers and chaos, even though it works for a lot of people and they love it.

    Just promise me that, next year, you’ll let me watch you make that crazy Gingerbread house you have planned. Maybe I’ll try something new too, like a library with books you can see the windows. Wouldn’t that be cool!?

    • It was the product of “I don’t know what on earth I am doing.” It’s cute, but next year it will have a purpose. ;)

      Being at home is my preference as well. We’re having a Christmas Party this weekend at church and I am dreading it, even though I know those young people fairly well. You never know what to expect at social gatherings, which always makes me nervous. =P

      Awww, a Gingerbread Library would be so cute!! You can watch me make mine, and you can make yours — and my mother can make one too. ;)

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