My overarching message around the holidays has always been this:
Do what you need to do to protect yourself when your emotions are still raw. Back out of the holidays all together, if that’s what feels right. Create new traditions that suit who you are now. And most of all, hang in there, because it does get easier, and eventually you’ll find a way to make the holidays joyful again.
But, this year, I want to make an amendment. Because, the truth is, for some of you, the holidays might keep sucking for a long, long time, and my being all Pollyanna about it, isn’t going to change that.
For years, I have followed my own guidelines for holiday survival. After a couple of years of trying to force the Christmas spirit, we chose to opt out of Christmas because it was too sad. Then, for a number of years, we made a point of going away and doing something totally non-traditional. It wasn’t “Christmas” as I’d envisioned it, but it felt right for us, and we enjoyed the season again.
I thought I had a different attitude about Christmas. Mr. Fab and I like staying at home, just the two of us, and keeping it low key. We put up a tree and decorated the house. We’ll keep up our new tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve and it will be a “nice” Christmas, not perfect, but good enough.
I’ve talked to several friends, fellow bloggers who, like me, are several years into being at peace with not having children. They each talked about plans for a quiet celebration, of an adapted holiday experience. And each of them also added that some part of their plans had triggered the old sadness or poked at a tender spot. Not one of us gushed about the jingly joyful celebration we were planning. Instead, we talk of an “almost-but-not-quite” Christmas.
As I was rooting around in my mind, trying to find a point to this post, I suddenly thought about my dad. My dad hated Valentine’s Day, not because of the commercial tackiness, but because his own father had died on February 14th. Even two decades later, he couldn’t find joy in the day, and none of us expected him to. I tiptoed around him and, by February 15th, he was his old self again. As a young girl, hoping to get Valentines in the mail, I couldn’t understand why my dad felt this way. But, of course, I understand it fully now.
I stand by all my guidelines about the holidays: It does get easier. You will find a way to get through the holidays and even enjoy them again. But, odds are, they will always tap a sore spot and serve as a reminder of what’s missing. It might always be “almost-but-not-quite” Christmas.
But, before you know it, it will be January again, a new year and a fresh chance to live the life you do have to its fullest. I don’t know about you, but the New Year is fast becoming my favorite holiday of all.