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Christmas Ambivalence

I have mixed feelings about Christmas this year.  I’ve been so busy with the novella that my Christmas preparation didn’t really get underway until a few weeks ago.  Other than taking advantage of the Cyber Monday sales to buy my husband gifts and putting up my Christmas tree, it wasn’t until the last few weeks (and especially the last few days) that I’ve really put much effort into it.  I’ve made up for lost time though: the house is decorated, treats are baked, shopping is done, I’ve donated to charity, and I went to see a performance of A Christmas Carol with my parents like I have for the past 30 years.  But I haven’t been feeling Christmas this year.  I’m going through the motions more than I’d like to.  Part of it’s a lack of snow–it’s raining and forty degrees right now–although I am grateful we haven’t had an ice storm like we did last year.  No power before Christmas is stressful as hell.  I actually like rain and gloom most of the year, but around Christmas, I really want snow.

I felt a glimmer of the Christmas spirit in the last few days as I baked and listened to Christmas carols.  I tried very hard to feel jolly as I wrapped gifts.  But my brain wasn’t fully on board.  I look at the picture below and think “that looks cheerful”.  But I don’t feel cheerful.

Christmas cookies

It doesn’t help that we’re horribly short-staffed at work right now. I usually take a few days off before Christmas and I couldn’t this year.  I’m scheduled to work Christmas Eve until 4pm and for weeks, had no idea if I’d even be able to go to my husband’s family’s celebration.  They live two hours away so he’d miss most of it he waited until I got out of work to go.  I didn’t want him to miss a chance to see his family, some of whom he only sees once or twice a year.  But the prospect of working all day and then spending the evening alone was depressing and it hung over everything.

It’s not official per se, but my boss has given me the go ahead that I’ll be able to get out early and go.  I’m crossing my fingers that everything will go according to plan and I can celebrate Christmas Eve with my husband and his family.  So that’s good news.

Unfortunately, last night I got the news that my family’s Christmas has been rescheduled.  My mom has a cold and my dad has what sounds like the flu.  He’s almost never sick, so him saying that he didn’t feel up to doing Christmas was a surprise.  He must really feel awful. I certainly don’t blame him, but it looks like the soonest we’ll be able to get together to celebrate will be January 3rd.  Not going to lie, I cried when I found out.

Since my grandma died and my extended family splintered apart, I’ve struggled with the holidays.  I still see two of my cousins and their kids–although usually not until late January/February–so it isn’t as though I won’t celebrate with them.  But it isn’t the same.  And when it’s tied in with some very unresolved family issues … well, Christmas hasn’t been quite as happy as it used to be.  I felt like I was doing well in the last few years though.  Getting used to the idea that it was a small celebration with my parents, aunt, and  husband.  Eating my dad’s homemade scones, opening gifts, having dinner in front of the fireplace. I was trying to embrace those new traditions and to have that yanked out from under me took me by surprise.  Now I feel weepy and deflated, what Christmas cheer I had utterly gone.

I’m trying to be grateful that I have family.  That they are–colds and flu aside–healthy.  This year I have a warm house (with power!) and I’m all ready for Christmas.  I let myself wallow and mope a bit last night and this morning.  But writing this has been catharctic and I’m trying to keep things in perspective.

I realized earlier today that my husband and I don’t even own stockings.  Well, we do, but they’re at my parents’ house.  Nevermind that we don’t have a mantel either.  Surprising in a house from the 1920’s, but there is no fireplace.  I plan to go out after work and see if I can find two stockings.   We can always hang them off the aquarium.

It’s the first Christmas Day my husband and I have ever spent with just the two of us and I’m at a loss for how to celebrate it.  Number one, we need to figure out dinner for that day. Nothing we have on the menu seems particularly festive.  Ginger beef stir fry with kale and mushrooms sounds delicious, but not for Christmas dinner.

Christmas fir tree branch with holly berry

I’m wishing hard for a white Christmas, but that’s out of my control and aside from hanging stockings, I’m wracking my brain about what else we can do to make the day special.  What are your traditions? Do you have any thoughts on what I can do to kick this funk in the pants and replace it with some holiday spirit?

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