I love Christmas. The overflowing nuts, clementines, cookies in the grocery store; to the arrival of fruitcake and eggnog. Then there’s the nights you get to gather in the warmth of homes with family and friends talking about trips to take, vacations of past, or the next steps you plan to take in your life.
But there’s a small problem with Christmas. It also makes you look backwards and count your losses. Those people that I have lost that I will never see their goofy grins except in my memory. And if it’s been awhile, I begin to worry I may not remember their smiles correctly. If that’s the case, I know my memory is all I have and there’s no way to double check. This alone can bring me to tears.
I’m not certain what it is about me in the last month. On my drive in to work, I must spend 5 minutes patting my face in an effort to smooth out my red eyes from tears that have fallen before I go into the office. I know that I am thinking of those that I have lost: my dad, brother and this year a friend.
Christmas is a hard time of year. When I was in University I remember one Christmas when I had no money to buy my boyfriend a gift. He had bought me a television. I can tell you the overwhelming feelings of guilt I had for failing him as I sat blubbing on my couch.
He insisted it didn’t matter. But the feelings were still there. We’re married now so I guess it didn’t matter. But, it still hurt.
Loss is hard. Whether it’s financial loss, the loss of family or friends, or the loss of your health. I know this time will pass, that I’ll get through Christmas and while this one is difficult, other years will be better. I can count a long list of things to be grateful for: my husband, my mom, sister-in-law, nephew and nieces; the ongoing support of amazing friends; my writing this year where it feels like I have made huge strides even though they are in reality very small; my home and of course my dog, Hershey.
On the outside my life is grand. I can find joy while looking at the beautiful Christmas lights while walking down my street after it is blanketed with new fallen snow. But at the same time, I will think back to a Christmas when my brother and father were here and after dinner we played a game of monopoly. All I want is just one more game.
Why is this a change? It feels somehow to me that it is taboo to say I feel sad around the holidays; as if I will be named Ebenezer or the Grinch by family and friends. As well, for me I rarely publicly admit how much things hurt. So this change is about embracing honesty of what Christmas means to me. Both the joy and sadness.