There are many ways to avoid the "Holidays."

I didn’t write any special “Holiday” posts. I didn’t even write anything about how I was avoiding the “Holidays.” Did you notice, or were you too busy with your “Holiday” brou-ha-ha-ing to notice?

Now that we’re winding up (or down) toward year’s end, I feel I owe you an explanation, fully understanding that you probably don’t care. If, by the end of my explanation, you still don’t care, then just leave a comment saying how much you enjoyed wasting your time with me.

Oh, don't give me that judgmental look so soon. Wait until you've read the whole thing to be really disgusted with me.

There are two reasons why I avoid the “Holidays” like The Scarecrow avoids an open flame:

  1. The “Holidays” confuse me. I was raised Catholic, tried to be an atheist but gave up on that, failed at being a Methodist, found out I’m part Jewish (wait until you hear that story) but only practiced my Yiddish accent–never the Hebrew traditions, explored all kinds of New Age spiritual traditions (some being very Old Age, like Wicca and the Mayans), educated myself in the Self-Empowerment Movement, and finally settled into being an imperfect Buddhist. When I put “Holidays” in quotation marks, it’s an homage to my personal spiritual confusion diversity around this time of year.
  2. I’m, as some of you know, a Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP). I didn’t make up this diagnosis or this condition; Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. did. Well, she made up the diagnosis or at least wrote about it in a book called The Highly Sensitive Person. How much more direct could she be? The “Holidays,” as they are celebrated in today’s world (as opposed to more quiet, albeit short-lived, earlier times), are an HSP’s nightmare.

No decorations or 30-person wedding-china meal. That's my kind of HSP "Holiday."

Thinking back, I was never excited about Christmas (that’s what I called it back then when I wasn’t a heathen). Sure, I liked the possibility of a man coming to our house and giving me presents, especially since I didn’t have a real father; but all the hoopla around the tree and decorating made me a bit nervous. I was always worried that I would break a pretty glass bulb or put two similar color ornaments near each other. Nonsense! You say? I remember having to remove my carefully placed ornaments after being chided that they were in the “wrong” places. Decorating scars stay with you, like birthmarks or really bad plastic surgery to remove those birthmarks, for life.

Some things you just learn to live with...

I came across a questionnaire developed by Dr. Aron for parents to test if their child is highly sensitive. If only my mom would have had such a diagnostic tool. Perhaps I’d be admiring my own lovely “Holiday” decorations and not blogging about my childhood decorating trauma and putting the word “Holiday” in quotation marks, which is as annoying to write as it is to read.

Almost as annoying as him...

Here are some of the items on the questionnaire. For the full version, click here and perhaps you’ll finally understand that your child is not being difficult or contrary. S/he is (like me and 15-20% of the population) just different weird special in that HSP kind of way.

Startles easily. (When you yelled, “LORNA! Don’t put that blue ornament so close to that other blue ornament!” Now you know why I dropped the second blue ornament in question and became paralyzed. And you know know who you are, you…)

Uses big words for her/his age. (“Mommy, I find that it stretches the boundaries of logic and physics that a man so rotund should be able to descend and extricate himself from a chimney while toting an enormous satchel of gifts. Further defying rationality is the blatant reality that we live in an apartment and lack a fireplace.” Letter written by Lorna to her mother when she was 6 to the best of my recollection. My mother, being freaked out by the letter–rather than proud and hanging it on the refrigerator–had me exorcised by the local priest). I exaggerated. I was never exorcised. She made me exercise more.

Asks lots of questions. (Who me?)

Notices the distress of others. (I noticed Mom slaving away in the kitchen baking all those Christmas cookies and I volunteered to help. Chopping dates was my favorite job. She never missed a few several half the date pieces for her cookie recipe. When she looked frantically for an extra package of dates, I noticed, too.)

Is bothered by noisy places. (Eight o’clock morning mass was the hub-bubbiest part of Christmas day. All that chanting in unison was enough to drive an HSP child wild. Thank God those were the days before the “Passing of the Peace” ritual, during which you shake hands with everyone and are nice to strangers, which is something you’re not supposed to do–every adult said so–and creates a massive cacophony of Jenga-like cross conversations.)

Don't make waves. Stop with all the criss-cross chatter. I just want to be alone.

The highest possible score for a child on the full questionnaire is 23. I scored 21. The two items that didn’t apply to me as a child were “notices the slightest unusual odor” (if we’re talking about a fart in an elevator, well, then yes; but in general, I didn’t have a hound-dog nose) and “considers if it is safe before climbing high” (again, probably true, but I did it anyway–remember “Monkey Business?”).

I was and am a Highly Sensitive Person and the “Holidays” are Overload Season for me. This is why I avoid speaking of “The Holidays.”

Only I just did.

I am nothing if not ironic. And now I’ll go meditate on that and then go to my yoga class.

My teacher says she's only been at this for 2 years. Is that dog-years or anabolic-steroid-use human-years?