But I can’t join in.
Do you like Christmas? Perhaps you don’t and it brings up all sorts of feelings! I want to know all about them for this week’s #QuoteQuest
Let’s start with why I struggle with Christmas:
It started back as a little girl. The big family christmas was always full of tension, and what I now refer to as “Forced Fun”. Nobody seemed to enjoy any of it very much. My mum would wear herself into the ground, trying to cook the perfect dinner. When offered help she would reject it, and then huff at not getting the support she wanted but never accepted!
As the years passed my dad became unwell, and my early teen christmases were spnt in hospital, trying to make the best of a sad, sad situation. Once he died there was a Dad shaped hole, not just in Christmas but in my life in general. And we “celebrated” in the best way we could as a grieving family.
And then I met and married Mr Christmas.
Up until I met P I would always make gifts for people, but over the course of our marriage the few things that I had managed to hold onto that made me feel festive slowly got snuffed. My homemade shortbreads, jams, bath bombs, knitwear… all of a sudden they were used a sammunition for what made me such a rubbish person to know. If we didn’t spend, spend, spend then we would look like bad people. And don’t even get me started on the Christmas movies that he would start us watching in September!
I couldn’t even escape his festive spirit at work for many years. Working in retail management, and with my pleasant disposition in the face of rudeness, I was often put on queue management. The Christmas spirit seemed very much alive, and malignant. Every day in the build up to Christmas, people would become more poisonous towards staff and fellow customers. That can do things to a girl.
Even after I left P he continued to dominate my festivities. His facebook posts were all about how much I had ruined his Christmas. His conversations with the children were damaging for them, his hurt, his pain… All my fault, apparently, which caused difficulties in my mother-child relationshps. And then there was the weight of expectation I felt, to make Christmas as spectacular as possible for the children! The first year post P-removal was the last year I bowed to expectations. And the boys still have a magnificent time!
But how do I struggle with Christmas?
Over the years I have found that there is only so much christmas cheer that I can produce. In much the same way I use the spoon theory for everyday life, I think it applies here too. But my spoons, which have always been in short supply, have been heavily depleted over time.
The prompt quote this year hit a nerve with me, there were definitely tears. Though I’m not sure if that is because of illness or because of the words. The words in the quote as well as those making up this post.
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” ~~
You see, for me the thing that hurts so much about Christmas is that it’s compulsory. You can’t escape from it. From radio and TV, to the lights and throngs of Christmas shoppers. This year I must admit that I am missing the nativity at school, and the church service. Not because I’m religious (I’m not, another reason Christmas doesn’t hold much draw) but because the children are amazing and I love to watch them sing and perform.
And Christmas can feel incredibly lonely for me. Possibly because I pull away from everything, and avoid those situations that make me feel horrid. The family gatherings, even when attended on my terms, highlight all of my “failings”, leave room for little jealousies and insecurities to poke their noses in. Little comments cause unintended pain. The memories that are being made becoming tarnished by the little put downs.
Will I always struggle with Christmas?
I think on some level I will. I am naturally not into “special days” preferring to share my love and attention all through the year, rather than when a calendar dictates. And when I say I don’t like Christmas, that isn’t entirely true. I dislike the exhaustion of keeping up with my excited children, the financial pressures of buying gifts, the lack of time to make special presents for those I love… I do enjoy watching the joy on my childrens faces as we open up our stockings on Christmas morning.
Christmas 2017 marked a change for us. The boys and I created a new tradition, one that I will share soon. As we approach the fourth incarnation of our little family-christmas, I have noticed I have another spoon. Something that I look forward to using at Christmas. And as we share our fabulously happy christmas picture each year I am also heartened by the number of friends who wish they could celebrate in the same way. I say heartened. I kind of mean it, but not really. Because it means they are stuck in (my idea of) Christmas Hell, and don’t feel able to make the change they wish for. But that is their journey, not mine.
So this year, while I look on at all of the festive posts, and sit on the outside looking in. At the same time I will keep in mind that I’m an outdoors girl and continue to budget my Christmas cheer so that I can spend it on my boys.