Christmas is supposed to be a festive time of year, but for many people, it is emotionally difficult. There are many reasons why it is not my favorite time of year.
It started when I was 11 years old. We moved 5 hours from our home for a year so my dad could complete a medical fellowship in pediatric oncology. This was his calling, so I don’t fault him for that. I also don’t fault my mom for being horribly depressed that year because we moved not long after my grandmother died. Life really changed for us in 1986. I remember being sad at Christmas, not because of material things, but because we weren’t home. I distinctly remember going to my room and crying later on that day.
The Christmas of 1986 seems to have stuck with me, all these many years later. Even though we were back in my hometown, living in my childhood home again by the following year, I still felt sad at Christmas.
There were some other traumatic experiences that occurred around the holidays. It seemed as though they waited to happen at that time.
There were a few fun Christmases in there. There was my mom’s habit of picking the worst possible tree in the lot to use as our Christmas tree. There was the year that we couldn’t figure out why our tree was turning brown, until we realized that our dog, thinking the tree was his personal bathroom, was peeing in the water in the tree stand. An especially fun one was with my college sweetheart. I had followed him to the Midlands after I graduated nursing school. That year, we had very little money for Christmas. He ended up finding a little scrub of a Charlie Brown tree. We had no stand, so stuck it in a bucket full of rocks to hold it in place. That was a fun time, but still bittersweet because I wasn’t home.
Fast forward to 2006. My paternal grandmother died suddenly. She had Alzheimer’s and multiple strokes and was bedridden in a nursing home. Although it was a blessing for her that she passed, it was sad for all of us. I found it especially poignant, as I was pregnant with my first child.
We had a bad holiday in 2009 as well. My then-husband was fighting for his life with a relapse of leukemia. I was 8 months pregnant. I honestly could find nothing to celebrate. We would not have had any Christmas for the kids that year had presents not been donated to us. I will be forever grateful to those wonderful people.
Multiple Christmases came and went. Each year was stressful because my now ex-husband would practically bankrupt us to get presents for everyone, except me. I honestly can’t remember a single gift bought for me. That’s not being materialistic on my part. That just shows how I was disregarded.
Last year was the first for just my sons and I. We decorated the tree with blue and silver ornaments and pretty blue and white lights. We added personalized ornaments. Every year, I buy one for each boy with their name and year on them. We decorated the tree again this year and I hung a wreath on the door. That is as much Christmas as I can do. If it weren’t for my two little sweethearts, I know I wouldn’t put up a tree.
This year, I am really trying hard not to let the holidays get me down. My sister Julie and I have created a tradition of seeing Trans Siberian Orchestra every year, which lifts my spirits. I will continue to smile and have talk of Santa Claus with my kids. We will watch Charlie Brown, Muppets Christmas Carol, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I will do this for them and maybe, just maybe by doing so will change how I feel about Christmas. One can always hope.