Important Disclaimer – read this first: If you are one of those people who hate to hear of anything but full-on Christmas Joy at this time of year, read no further. If you are one of those people, and you continue to read, please don’t leave comments with any sort of a “C’mon, snap out of it! Count your blessings and stop whining” sort of a theme to it. It may not be pretty if you do. At the least, I will probably refuse to publish the comment. These are my feelings and I will give voice to them here, on my blog. You have been warned.
I struggle with Christmas. Every year now for many years, I white-knuckle my way through the holidays with only one goal in mind – to make it through, alive and mentally healthy, to Boxing Day. You probably wouldn’t know it, because I stay as cheery as possible on the outside, so as not to interfere with any other person’s joy in the season.
You see, I do completely understand how wonderful Christmas can be, because:
I used to be the biggest Christmas freak ever. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to create and spread Christmas Joy amongst as many people as I could touch during the season. I used to make or buy gifts all year long in anticipation. I couldn’t wait until it was decently close enough to Christmas to send out my cards. I baked, I played Christmas tunes, I decorated, I celebrated with abandon!
Somehow I lost all that and I can’t get IT back.
I have tried multiple strategies. For a few years I thought it was the commercialism of the holiday that killed it for me, so I stopped giving material gifts and donated to causes instead. I focused on the giving and spiritual aspects of the season. That offered some relief, but that wasn’t IT.
This year I tried to decide to add to the above, and focus on what Christmas activities gave me joy, in an effort to stave off what seems to be an inevitable depressing and anxious mood at this time of year. So I sent out cards, and put together small gifts that I hope bring a smile to my loved ones. I listened to Christmas music. I even decorated my office. And I watched, enviously, as others got into the Christmas Joy – the Christmas Spirit – that continues to elude me.
As I have been mulling over for the 1000th time what the hell is wrong with me at this time of year, it suddenly came to me (I think). I use this time of year to grieve.
I am grieving:
- People that I have lost. People that I especially associated with Christmas. Such as my dad (biggest Christmas freak ever). And Auntie Hazel, who JD and I used to spend quiet and special Christmas Eves with, in years past.
- Christmases past, that will never be again. Like when my beautiful children were small and innocent and full of Christmas Joy. Before they were hurt and beaten down by life, by things their dad and I did to them as a direct result of getting a divorce.
- Relationships that aren’t what they should be. That I don’t have the tools to fix. Even if those people wanted them fixed, which I have my doubts about.
- All the sorrows of this world. Within my circle of friends and family, and also outside of it. My heart breaks for those who lost family and friends at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the family of the mom of the troubled shooter, and even for the shooter himself, who didn’t get the help he desperately needed for his mental well-being.
- That I may never experience Christmas Joy and peace again. A valid concern as this goes on year after year, despite my efforts to change it.
So, here is my Christmas truth. It is not “the most wonderful time of the year” for me. It used to be, and now it’s not. It is a time when I am anxious, depressed, and emotionally fragile. I wish it wasn’t this way. Oh, how I wish it wasn’t! But it is.
I keep trying to get the ol’ Christmas magic back in my life. This year, I thought I was doing better, but it has hit me like a ton of bricks anyways.
Well, despite all this, hope still does spring eternal in a small, quiet part of my soul. The part that keeps saying “Better luck next year!”
And I am grateful to still be here, on the planet, in good health, with lots of food and a warm abode to call home, and to be able to feel, even if it is painful to do so.
It still beats the alternative, by a long shot!
Merry Christmas to anyone still reading! (I mean it!!!)