Hibernation

It’s seemingly inescapable. Even here in the central mountains of Mexico.

Halloween was not yet a memory, and already my favorite, grand supermarket in San Miguel de Allende, La Comer, was piping Christmas music throughout its bright and spacious aisles and displaying stacks of glittery Christmas tree decorations for sale.

So depressing.

Made me wistful for the three years I spent in predominately Muslim Mali, West Africa, where Christmas is pretty much unheard of and certainly not celebrated.

Ah, those were the days.

There are a lot of things you might call people like me, for whom this holiday season – late-November to late-December – is the year’s nadir. Let’s see… You could call us Scrooges, depressives, Debbie Downers, party-poopers, antisocial, or no-fun-at-all. And maybe you’d be right on many counts.

I know it’s difficult for the more extroverted among us to understand, but some people (like me) run, as if from a burning building, from the hubbub of the holidays – the crowds of frenzied shoppers, the maxed-out credit cards, all the commercial pressures and social stresses, and the forced party jollity.

As a certifiable introvert whose favorite place to be on Christmas, especially at this stage of my life, is at home in my own sweet bed with a really good book, I’ve just come up with a new, somewhat positive label for myself: hibernator.

Artist: Jessica Boehman

This is the time, as the winter solstice draws nearer, the days become shorter, and the nights longer, when some of us need more than anything to pull in, be quiet, reflect on the year almost past, and restore our souls.

Just the other day I happened upon a Face Book post written by Brigit Anna McNeill that spoke to this need for me — and, I assume, some others of us. She writes:

“The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, [as] a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close. […] Like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds….”

She seemed to be reading my mind.

And then yesterday I was heartened to read a piece in the New York Times titled, “Yes, it’s O.K. to be Sad During the Holidays,” by Marissa Miller. Here is her wonderful opening line: “All I want for Christmas is a nap.”

Miller goes on, empathetically:

“Feeling like a sad sack of coal during the holidays is far from unusual. Between the crowds, dwindling bank accounts and tundralike weather (not to mention the short window of sunlight), it’s a wonder any of us can keep it together.”

For her whole, helpful article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/smarter-living/yes-its-ok-to-be-sad-during-the-holidays.html .

So whether you’re a holiday party person or a party-pooper like me, take heart. We are who we are; there’s no getting around that now; and this season, too, like all the ones that have gone before, will be fleeting.

18 thoughts on “Hibernation”

  1. Ah, then there were the years of catering in NYC, Bonnie, when we worked ourselves to exhaustion making those jolly parties for people we often didn’t really know…. Do hibernate. Lying fallow helps everything and everyone regenerate! Enjoy your rest!

    1. Yes! You’ve brought back memories, Carol dear, of “hiding” in the kitchen during clients’ holiday parties. I was happiest behind the stove. Maybe you felt the same? Hope you’re doing well! — xx

  2. Dear Bonnie,

    It is possible to enjoy the spirit of “holidays” and family memories ( the good ones) without the frenzied aspects ( shopping, maxing out crédit cards). One can find this by leisurely strolls through the woods. Or the city square of your mountain village. Just look at the lights, feel the crisp air, and ( if lucky) catch a snow flake on your tongue.

    Robert Frost wrote of this atmosphere in “ Stopping by Woods on a snowy evening.”

    Whose woods these are, I think I know.
    His house is in the village, though.
    He will not see me stopping here.
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer.
    To stop without a farmhouse near.
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year ( winter solstice ).

    Explanation ( mine ) : because the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year ( and conversely the longest night), it is the darkest ( longest period of dark).

    I would love to be on a horse, right there in the snowy woods, when “
    “ he gives his harness bells a shake.
    To ask if there is some mistake.”

    Love,

    Santa

  3. A slight shift in your perspective, from Christmas to solstice, will help you (and a lot of others) get through this horridly commercial season. Like Santa says, there are a few elements that make it bearable. I loved that Jessica Boehman illustration.

  4. I, too, loved that post on FB. A few things I love about this time of year are, hot chocolate with home made marshmallows, 17 battery operated candles in my windows, flannel sheets on my bed, and bundling up for long, meditative winter walks! Sending love your way, my friend, ♥️♥️♥️♥️

  5. And in touristy San Miguel de Allende Mexico the increase in the number of people and cars in town during the holidays gets frustrating fast.

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