Don't get me wrong, as long as dad was locked away for the duration, the holiday was quite nice. We baked together, went caroling with our friends from school, went to a neighbor's party every year and bought each other the best presents we could afford. I do have a lot of good memories from that time period.
Then marriages happened and this broke our little gang up. We had to travel all over the state to visit all the different families. Over the years this settled into Christmas eve with hub's family, Christmas day by ourselves and Boxing Day with my family. It worked great until hub's family had a monumental blowout and everyone stopped talking to each other. Then shit got weird. And lonely. Things deteriorated even more when I got in a fight with my mom and sister and they stopped talking to me for a few years.
Due to hubs being a sound guy, he was inevitably working during the holiday season so he wasn't around to do anything. My mom and sister moved far away so I couldn't see them anymore. So no more going out to do Christmas stuff. I wasn't near anyone and we were barely speaking so I didn't know what presents to get anyone. I didn't get to go to parties. No more wrapping presents with my sister and mom until the wee hours of the morning while drinking sherry. I was really by myself for a while. And I was really miserable around the holidays. It got so bad I quit decorating the house. I seemed to be the only one that cared about Christmas and hubs and kid wanted nothing to do with it so I quit. I went on Christmas strike for many years.
It got so bad I started putting up a metal lawn ornament Christmas tree instead of a real one. I called it my minimalist tree. It was painted white metal with small white lights. I added sky blue balls and called it a day. The only parties I went to were office ones. We had never stayed in one place long enough for me to make real friends anywhere. I moved on average every year for almost ten years running. Hubs HATED Christmas music so I couldn't even play it in the house never mind go to a concert or go caroling. I don't blame him. He did two to three shows a day of Pop's Christmas shows for two to three months in a row for ten years. I would hate the stuff too if I had to listen to that. But I missed going out to do Christmas stuff.
However, one thing I did do was send out cards. It made me feel loved to get all those cards back. I hated sitting down to make them out, but man did I LOVE getting ones in the mail. Because I did this every year I was still sending cards to people I worked with decades prior. It was often the only contact I had with these old acquaintances.
Since I've been sick, I haven't been able to send cards for a couple of years now. I did manage to get out New Year's cards with short notes in them last year but I missed a couple of years prior to that. I was just too sick to sit at a table for long enough to write out cards. It is amazing how many people don't send one if you don't send them one. I've been too sick to notice or care until this year. This year I've been putting off writing cards. Cards are bothering me on several levels.
Unlike Americans, I keep cards. I'm from a traditional Victorian family and we save all of our correspondence. It used to be the done thing. I must say that it is a real pleasure to read over a letter that is ten or twenty years old or run across a letter from a deceased relative. This is one of the few things I worry about with the invention of the internet and email. That body of correspondence that brought personal pleasure and a source of historical information is gone in the ether. But I digress...
Last year my son and husband decided that we needed to decorate for Christmas. Hubs brought home a tree from a tree farm. My kid put up the decorations. I sat and marveled at the whole thing. We went for a drive to look at the Christmas lights our neighbors put up. And Christmas turned out pretty good despite my trip to the ER later that night.
This year I'm well enough that I want to decorate and do cards. However, trying to get hubs, kid and me to do something together at the same time is like herding cats. It just doesn't go well. The weekend I was looking forward to buying a tree, putting it up and decorating it with hubs and kid, I was well enough to participate. I came out of the bedroom to find hubs had taken his work vehicle apart and was in the middle of installing a widget on it. Kid was on the Xbox and didn't want any human contact because he had just finished finals. When we finally got into a vehicle to get a tree, it was dark. I was looking forward to going to a nice large place where we could wander around and look at a variety of trees and pick out something nice. Hubs literally drove us around the corner to a small nursery where he heard they had cheap trees. They only had a few out of their wrappings and they hadn't been standing upright so the limbs hadn't dropped and you couldn't tell their shape. Since we were the only ones there, the kid running the stand was picking out trees for us to look at and it was about ten degrees outside. I didn't want to be the picky female so I agreed to the second tree that the kid picked up that hubs liked. I climbed into the car while hubs paid and kid strapped it to the roof for the half mile trip back home. The entire process took about 20 minutes. Hubs pulled into the gas station to take a family photo for me to post to Facebook of us getting our tree. Insert rude noise here. The pic is still on my kid's phone.
The poor tree spent the next three days upside the garage. It got covered in snow and then ice. Hubs finally brought it into the garage so it could melt before being brought into the house. It took another week for hubs to get lights on to it. On one of my good days where I wasn't doing something else, I managed to go through the Christmas ornaments and sort which ones we were keeping and which ones were getting pitched. I haven't been well enough to do this for years. This is my fourth Christmas with CFS. Ugh. Then a snowstorm hit which put me in bed. Then a doctor's appointment. Then another snow storm. The tree still isn't decorated and I'm very sad about it. I does look good with the lights on though. I'm happy that we have a nice tree.
I still haven't done cards though. I'm putting it off. While unpacking the ornaments I found a card from hub's mom. It was from ten years ago and she said that she was looking forward to coming over for Christmas dinner and seeing us. She passed away the year before I got sick. I cried and cried. I miss her. I miss spending holidays with her.
Yesterday, I saw a Facebook post that my friend from college was laid to rest on campus. A small group of fellow students went there with the family to spread some of her ashes under the trees next to the lake. I cried some more. I will miss her too.
I miss so much. I miss baking with my sister. I miss wrapping presents with my mom and sister. I miss having large family dinner with hubs mom and my family all crammed around my small dinner table eating off family heirloom fine china. I miss going to huge family gatherings. I miss going to Christmas parties. I miss having so many people over that I have to set up a kids table. I miss having the house festooned with decorations.
I sat down to write cards today. I went through my Rolodex. It is sad how many people no longer contact me since I got sick. People I had considered friends but have left to go on with their active lifestyles. Family that has passed away. Friends that have passed away. This year is weird to me. It is a season of loss but at the same time I'm also letting go of that Rockwell painting in my head. That perfect family that doesn't exit. It has never existed. I can feel the holiday shifting beneath me. I'm grieving my losses but at the same time celebrating my many small victories. I'm doing so much better than last year at this time. This whole year has been better for me from a health perspective. My marriage is doing better and is slowly healing. My relationship with my son is getting deeper and we find ourselves talking often about all sorts of subjects including very personal ones. I have a great new car. I'm walking short distances. I have all sorts of cool internet friends. All I need is a party to go to.
I'm going to write some cards now. I feel a bit better after writing this long missive. I hadn't intended it to get this long but once I started, it all had to come out. Looking at the bright side I only have a handful of cards to write. This won't take long. Peace out!