I knew it was coming – every year I know it, and yet I’m still never quite prepared for it. “Mum, are we going to bother with Christmas decorations this year?”
Gulp, groan, um, ooh – um….
All these tiny inward reactions run through me as I look at Mr 13 Year Old, who tactfully tells me it’s ‘my choice’.
Huumph! As if!
What’s the big deal you may ask…
Well, I’m a bit of a bah humbug over Christmas. Partly because I think it’s far too commercialized, and while I have a lovely relationship with God, and some very cool angels and guides, I’m not a ‘Christian’. But also, I’ve kind of struggled with Christmas for about 14 years now, as three days after that long ago festive date, my wonderful husband sadly passed away unexpectedly, leaving me pregnant and totally mad at the world. So – anniversaries, being what they are, Christmas always comes around and I just quietly go into my cave and emerge just enough to ‘do Christmas for the kids’ and that’s about all. And my kids, friends and family know that’s about how I approach it every year. But this year, my son asked I think because he wondered if he should still care, now that he’s about to become a teenager and traded beliefs in Santa and toys for Girls and independence.
At our house we firmly believe in the Spirit of Christmas, but accept that it’s just lousy timing for us as a family. I try to make it a great family time for the three of us – but this year my older son has moved to Australia and not likely to make it home for the holidays, and so there will be only the two of us. “So Mum – should we bother with decorations this year?” Mmmn. Well, After sleeping on it, and really thinking hard about this, I think this is the year to make a real effort. Let’s get festive, share the day with other very small odd-ball families like ours is, and drink our annual toast to absent loved ones with renewed love and sorrow, before diving headfirst into a day of frivolity.
To all of those people out there who are also struggling with Christmas for similar reasons, rest assured that you are not alone – and perhaps we owe it to our lost loved ones to not miss a chance to be gracious and cheerful to our neighbors… and if for some of us it’s an emotional battle, we can gain comfort in the knowledge that we have made it through yet another year. If this is your first Christmas with a missing place-mat at the table, just get through the season honoring yourself first and your right to handle Christmas any way you decide to do it.
And be gentle to yourself. I’ll do the same, and think fondly of you all as I hang tinsel and angels and sing carols of joy with my boy.