Christmas became a hard season for me five years ago. Maybe even earlier, I can’t quite put my finger on it. And since it’s a painful situation to begin with, putting my finger on it only seems to make it worse anyways.
So I’m backing off with the finger pointing.
I have neither the energy or the courage to truly bare my soul to you and explain my grief, so I will summarize: divorce is nasty business.
The death of my marriage has introduced me to concepts of grief that I thought were only experienced by those who have lost a loved one to actual death.
But something did die. My marriage.
And Christmas is a grief-anniversary. Because the traditions surrounding Christmas are usually about family togetherness and our family is not… together. And some of the Christmas seasons have been harder than others, but each time I try to trick myself into thinking I’m “there.” I’m “back…” I’m ready to do all the cool-mom things I used to do. I’m ready to bake the cookies and decorate them like a rockstar and do the advent activities and say yes to every party and blow my kids’ minds with all the cool traditions I’d love to either carry on or start fresh with them.
But I can’t.
Because it’s too hard right now. And I don’t know if it will be any better next year. Or the year after that. Because it will always be bittersweet.
There are too many bad memories that stick too close to the good ones… have you ever had that? Where a good memory is so good but there’s a smudge on it? A rip in the photo? A blot of ink covering an important word in the poem? Sometimes you can’t think of the good without confronting the bad.
I think I did better this year. I listened to my body and what it could accomplish and I was happy with the balance I struck.
We decorated early. I said no to a lot of things I could have committed us to. We made cookies. I used a tiny fake tree instead of the (glorious smelling but never fitting into my apartment) hassle of a real one. We read stacks of Christmas books.
I made room in our schedule for some things that stressed me out a little but were meaningful to Anna and Elsa… like the crowds of the Parade of Lights. Or smashing both a holiday ornament workshop and a holly jolly 5k into one day. We voted for our favorite Gingerbread Masterpiece at the Rockwell. I sang Christmas carols on the couch in the dark with a girl tucked under each arm, snuggling like I remember my family doing when I was a little girl.
But I was still sad. More times than I wanted to be. I still didn’t have the heart for a ton of Christmas music. I sat in front of my tree lights and thought my sad thoughts and realized that this will always be hard in it’s own way.
Because every other year my girls won’t be with me. They’ll be with their Dad. Which is totally appropriate and what they need.
But I will still allow myself a certain amount of Grinchy-feelings when they’re gone.
When my girls are here, my life is all hustle and bustle and beautiful chaos. And when they leave… they take all the hustle and bustle and actual chaos with them, leaving behind just the ghost of all those things. And I wrestle alone with the whisper of a different kind of chaos in my heart.
It’s difficult to find peace in a home filled with all the joyful flurry of kid-ness, but no kids.
It’s like the dust of a Christmasy ghost town around here. But instead of a tumbleweed blowing by, there are scraps of red and green construction paper from art projects… unfinished puzzles, a discarded kid-sized Santa Hat, crumpled pieces of wrapping paper, haphazard stacks of children’s books… and quiet.
So much quiet. Too much.
Don’t be too sad for me. I have a great Home Team backing me up. I have filled my calendar with lots of things to do through the end of the year… projects to work on, people to see, tv shows to binge-watch. And I’m wise enough now to know to block off entire days just to be lazy in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing. But just because I can see the silver-lining in my kid-free time, doesn’t mean that’s the way things are supposed to be. It’s not what I wanted for us, for them. We are making the best of it though.
Professionally, I always feel like such a failure at Christmastime.
I started out the fall with so many great ideas and blog posts for you, dear reader. So many good marketing plans and pretty photos and ways to connect with you, my clients. My brain was bursting with all sorts of Christmas Creativity and I wanted to add another touch of sparkle to your holiday season in the way that only I can bring.
But I couldn’t bring it.
Not this year.
And now you know why. Why my social media got quiet and why my blog posts went unwritten.
Come back next year. Maybe it will be different.
But maybe it won’t. And I give myself grace for whatever type of Christmas spirit I can muster. I hope you can do the same.
Christmas can be hard for anyone, and for all sorts of reasons.
If you found yourself nodding along with me during this post, please consider passing it along to a friend.
For some reason no matter what your pain is, it stings so much more during the holiday season… maybe it’s because the blatant sparkle and shine and cheer that swirls around us all at Christmas is so obviously juxtaposed to the sadness and worry and doubt that swirls around some hearts. Sometimes it helps sad, lonely people know they don’t have to feel so completely alone in their complicated mix of feelings. Joy and pain sometimes stick together. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Even at Christmastime… especially at Christmastime.