I guess I’m as ready for Christmas as I’m going to be for this year. 🤷♀️
I’d like to preface this by saying I know how much I have to be grateful for, I know there are SO many people who have lost family, homes, health and more, and I thank God every night for the plenty (in so many ways) that I am blessed with.
Having said that, I’m compelled to share my own personal feelings surrounding this often emotional time of year. I try so darned hard to be cheerful, and often succeed in getting through Christmas without a melt-down.
This year it’s looking iffy.
I work each year at creating “Christmas spirit” in my life; it’s essential for my own mental health. Partly, my lack of seasonal cheer is because my family lives so very far away and I miss them.
Partly, it’s the simple fact that Jer has never particularly cared about Christmas and would happily let the holiday slide right on by if I didn’t insist on observing the date.
Jerry was 45 and single when we met and he’d been living alone in Alaska for over 20 years without family nearby. For him, until I came along, December 25th was a good opportunity to pick up overtime.
When we married in 1997, Jer was happy enough to follow my Christmas traditions, but he was mostly humoring his sweet, beloved wife. He would pick out a few special gifts (sometimes with the help of a “wish list”), filled my Christmas stocking with wonderfully unique and thoughtful trinkets (a long-lived family tradition in my family, no matter the age), and even tagged along to Christmas Eve services at church, where he discovered he enjoyed the singing of carols.
Christmas was a fun, joyful day, even though it was just the two of us.
Sadly, after Jer’s TBI in 2009, Christmas changed. Easily overwhelmed by noisy crowds, and lacking the empathy that was so much a part of his personality prior to the accident, Jer found Christmas to be an uncomfortable chore that he participated in because I insisted.
And yes, for my own perhaps selfish reasons, I did insist. I lost so much after that blasted TBI – I just could not give up my family Christmas traditions. In hindsight, it might have proven easier if I had, but the thought is just too depressing.
Still, we both try in our own ways. Shopping in crowded stores continues to be a challenge, and Jer often forgets what he is shopping for, but he makes the attempt. I’ll usually pick out my own gift, or let him know where to find it (this year, I’m hoping there will be a gift certificate to the local yarn & fiber store in my stocking – I all but drew him a map).
I set up a few little scenarios throughout the house – just small “Christmas moments” here and there – like my Nativity on the bedroom dresser where I can look at it at night before I fall asleep.
The little 4’ spruce tree I cut from the edge of our winter woods, which I hauled upstairs to the deck, secured behind my bird feeders and decorated with sparkly lights, crystal icicles and tiny, suet-filled pine cones – is my Christmas tree.
During the day, I can watch the birds dart back and forth from my spinning wheel or chair, and at night, the tree glows outside our bedroom window.
Christmas stockings for Jer and I hang under a living room window, and one each for the pups and kitties decorate the TV table.
I’ve wrapped, mailed or hand-delivered a few presents (hand-delivering always gives me a boost)… and as usual, I feel bad about the gifts I didn’t send. I tend to go into denial a couple of months before Christmas and all gift making/shopping stops – until it’s almost too late.
At that point, I rush to send out what little I’ve managed to make or gather and promise myself I’ll do better next year.
But deep down inside, I know when Christmas rolls around again, it’ll still be only me and Jerry sitting here, watching TV. Without my persistent and sometimes desperate efforts to make Christmas day seem special, it would mostly passed un-noted.
So, here we are … Christmas Eve 2021.
I’m upstairs, watching a beautiful Christmas Eve church service on Facebook. The music is lovely … and the Christmas story as always inspiring. At least I don’t have to worry about driving on icy roads.
Jerry is downstairs, already asleep in his recliner, with some true-crime drama blaring on the TV. Maybe I’ll surprise him with hearing aids for his birthday next month …
As soon as “church” is over, I’ll tip-toe downstairs and fill Jerry’s and the fur-kids’ stockings.
It is what it is, and I’ll continue to attempt to push past the clutter in my mind and find my joy. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
I hope each and every one of you find YOUR joy on this blessed night.