Berate me as Scrooge

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Berate me as Scrooge or the Grinch, but holidays make me cringe. Even at a remove of 10,000 kilometers, there is pressure to follow traditions that don't apply here in Japan. I recall even more pressure to conform in the States, but maybe it was mitigated through commiseration --sharing the stories of cookie-baking marathons, rounds of holiday parties, and the panic of not finding the exact right gift.

I follow along with the year-end holidays because to skip them is to cause great offense to everyone who thinks that a cookie and some gift-wrapping mean that you care. I wish that caring didn't involve meeting everyone's expectations of what I should do. Regretfully, it does, so I send greeting cards and gifts. I'm cooking a holiday meal today.

Of course, I won't hate it and in a way I enjoy the bother and fuss (if only because it connects me to the trials of the rest of my family and friends back home), but I don't fundamentally like feeling forced to participate. Putting so much energy into holidays I don't care about celebrating takes energy away from those I prefer--the first snow of the year, the progress of the earth around the sun, spring flowers blooming. I get more satisfaction from seeing February's first peach blossoms than from an entire pile of Christmas presents.

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