Christmas for me this year was hard, in fact, it's been hard for many years but I always push it under, smile and pretend everything is OK. This year for some reason I couldn't do that, or I didn't want to, I'm not sure.
I've been having a pity party for myself for some time now and I've been feeling left out, alone and betrayed. I have not come to full terms of being an empty nester and each year during the holidays I pray it gets better, but it only seems to get worse. I suppose this year has been worse because of my two new granddaughters and the fact that I can't be with them and share in this season of joy with them.
Growing up Christmas was one of my few happy times. My adopted Dad always made Christmas special for me and we had great family traditions that I loved and treasured, even still. As my kids were growing up I also had strong traditions with them and I loved making Christmas special for them each and every year. Such fun traditions as reading The Polar Express on Christmas Eve and each child getting a new pair of pajamas. Building and having the Christmas village bring joy and excitement in their eyes was always a cherished memory. I always coded their gifts so they wouldn't know who got what and I have precious memories of years of whining about codes on the presents. Something now I know they look back and have very fond memories of that.
We always spent Christmas Eve with their Dad's family and Christmas Day with my family. That was the way it was up until their Dad and I divorced. I miss those times so very much and sometimes I wish I could step back in time and change so many things, but I can't. Christmas hasn't ever been the same for me since. I've gone a few years without even having a Christmas tree and one year I was all alone and shopped at Wal-Mart and ate at McDonald's on Christmas Day.
When I met my sweet Victor things changed for me a little because he never had Christmas traditions and he had just the opposite memories of Christmas. The first year we were together I decked out the house from top to bottom and made Christmas extra special for him. I did the same for him the second and third year, but the past 3 Christmas's I have done nothing. We haven't even had a tree.
One year we went to Florida for Christmas, so I didn't see a need to decorate, which normally takes me 5-7 days to do what I do best, decorate. The second year without a Christmas we spent in Michigan with his family, so I didn't see a need to put up a tree then either. This year my heartaches and bleeds for the days gone by. The years I had with the kids, the love and tenderness I spent in making this a special time for them.
I asked Victor if we can go away for Christmas. I didn't want to be home; I couldn't bare the painful memories and just really wished the whole season wouldn't exist. When I thought of my kids surrounded by their Dad and his family I felt sick, I felt that part of me that is missing and that part I loved so dearly. I thought to myself that I should be there, that life shouldn't have dealt me that horrible card, but it did, so now what do I do.
I suppose, I could've sat there and bawled and feel sorry for myself or I could turn it around. Was I ready? NO! Did I have to? YES! I thought to myself that I would do it for Victor and make his Christmas special, but it didn't feel the same. It's wasn't motive enough for me to do it. Then I thought that I needed to do it for myself. WOW, what a concept. When in my life have I ever done anything for myself?
I always made Christmas special for others and in turn I loved it because I made other's heart warm and made special memories for them. After my divorce I sold my Christmas Village that I had been collecting for 25 years. I wanted nothing to do with it anymore and so I thought by getting rid of it I would also release the pain and agony of being alone at Christmas. It didn't work. When I met Victor one of the things he has done for me is try and rebuild my Christmas Village and since we have been married I have only put it up just one time. It doesn't feel the same, it's not "our" tradition, it's my first family tradition and it seemed I didn't want to share it with Victor.
But, I've sat alone one evening for 6 hours watching sappy Christmas movies and I was thinking….. Why do I have to do it for others? Why can't I do it for myself? I was a kid before I was a mother and the Christmas Village I grew up with that my Adopted Dad did for me was my favorite Christmas Memory. So, why should it be different now? It shouldn't!
So, I tried to put the Christmas' past in the past and create Christmas for me and also for Victor, but for me mainly. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and reflect on what I am grateful for and what truly matters at Christmas and that is the birth of our Savior. His gift of sacrificing love for ALL of his children. How could I be so selfish? How could I be so ungrateful? How come I forgot the true meaning of Christmas? I didn't have the answers, but I did know that this bah humbug was been transformed and even though Christmas' past still haunted my memories, I knew that new memories would be just as treasured and eventually the old memories wouldn't hurt so badly. So, in the Christmas spirit I set out and decorated the house (not top to bottom) and made it warm and cozy for ME and for my loving Husband.
I have learned many other valuable lessons which will come in part two. Stay Tuned!
Pictures: Starting from the top. 1. Me and the tree, Christmas 1968. 2. I was about 13 in this picture. 3. One of the villages I put up for the kids. 4. Another one of the villages I put up. 5. This was the village I put up for Victor. This was the first year in our home together in Ohio.