I’ve always loved Christmas. My mother used to call me her Christmas child, and I go all out, spend way too much money, have probably a roomful of boxes and bags of Christmas decorations down in the basement. I’ve made half a dozen Christmas quilts and I’m bound to make more.
But I wonder why? I don’t think Christmases were particularly festive in my childhood. I remember opening presents while my father was passed out on the couch. And when I was in my mid-teens and my mother started screaming at his I started singing to my sister, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” In other words, Christmas was rage and trauma and alcoholism.
But Christmas is also a fantasy that I buy into. A Charles Dickens, fire in the fireplace (and I’ve never had a fireplace in any of my houses). It’s family getting together, it’s strangers being nice.
But Christmas has a way of stabbing you in the back. It’s grandchildren that are kept away, it’s horror scenes so bad (last year) that we didn’t even open our presents on christmas day, but instead three of us went out for a Christmas dinner at a restaurant. Horrors! But the whole time was a shitstorm.
And I’m wondering what it’s going to be like this year. I always get cheery and silly when I see Santa Claus coke cans and holiday plastic bags. I want Christmas!
I figure I’ll have to go into this one with clear vision and realistic expectations. Which would be no expectations at all but simply to bring what joy I have, to celebrate it and be happy, and not be responsible for anyone else. They’ll have their emotional breakdowns or rages or whatever. Nothing I can do about it, but I can keep my own Christmas safe.
I gotta expect very little time from the grandkids, and not let that fact break my heart. I’ve been feeling iffy about Halloween because I always used to do things with Alex — make cupcakes, carve pumpkins, watch Charlie Brown. But he and Ali are far away, and at Christmas time I’ll get very little time with them. Happiness is lowered expectations. Happiness is not counting on other people to make you happy, but finding it in yourself. (In case you can’t tell, I’m still going to Al Anon, thank God!)
So I’m going to work my way into Christmas here. Figure out a way to just embrace it all without setting myself up for sorrow and pain.
But first — Sarah McLachlan!