Like many people, Christmas is a difficult time of year for me and I’ve spoken about that before. It takes a lot of effort and I had not been able to work up any of the enthusiasm of Christmases past. But this has been a year of new beginnings and Christmas was no different. Last year, although I spent Christmas with the Incredible Hunk it was very low-key. I didn’t feel settled or confident enough to make any suggestions about how to spend the day and wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible, frankly.
This year I started thinking about it a bit more. It sucks that something I was once so into has become something I now endure. It made me deconstruct it a bit and think about what Christmas actually means to me – yeah, I know, looking for meaning is so totally not usual for me. I have never understood separated parents who bicker over having their Christmas celebrations with their children on Christmas Day itself. A day is a day and if you cannot get along well enough to spend Christmas Day together with your child then surely someone can have Christmas Eve and someone Christmas Day. There is no child who has ever said “Gee, I wish I didn’t have so many Christmases”. No kid is ever going to complain about celebrations spanning days rather than hours. And in my big picture way it made me think of those stories you hear about children with cancer whose parents have Christmas in August, or whenever, just so they can celebrate one last time with them. Because, for real, painful as it is, not spending time with your child on December 25th and having to celebrate Christmas another day is way, way down the list of the worst things that can happen to you as a parent. Just as age is just a state of mind in terms of its ability to define you, so too is Christmas undefined by its date.
Although there is clearly some religious background to celebrating Christmas it has evolved into a cultural celebration. I am not celebrating the virgin birth of Jesus Christ when I celebrate Christmas, blasphemous heathen I am. So, although I understand that for many people Christmas is a celebration of religious significance, that is not what Christmas means to me. And it’s not about getting presents; for me it is truly more blessed to give than receive. Giving to people I love, yep, that comes into it, but not just material goods. Definitely showing people I care about that I care about them is a huge part of Christmas for me. Time spent, good food, good company, good music – all those things.
This year I wanted, genuinely, to enjoy Christmas. Maybe not every second but to not just endure it. Accept the things I cannot change; change what I can; know the difference. I began putting thought and effort and energy into reclaiming Christmas and I was doing pretty well, all things considered, I thought. I bought a tree and some decorations and decorated it with the children. I purchased presents and discussed food with the Incredible Hunk. And I started to enjoy the thought of our first ‘real’ Christmas together and the potential to start new traditions. Then on Christmas Eve eve Son Number Two started vomiting. By Christmas Eve morning I’d gotten the bug and by that evening the Incredible Hunk had it. It meant that the Incredible Hunk’s children were better off staying with their Mum and not spending time with us on Christmas Day – aarrrrggghhh! Just another curve ball thrown by the fickle finger of fate. Pretty sure violent expulsion of stomach contents and keeping the man I love from his children, who I also love, is NOT what Christmas means to me. Ah well, the best laid plans and all that.
We ended up celebrating a few days later, all of us, together. The kids had fun, which is surely the main thing. It was not the way I planned it but nothing usually is. The moral of the story is to work out what matters to you at the end of the day. What really counts. Then hold on to that, and let go of everything else.
Travel safe x