…I’ve wanted to love it.
It just sucked.
My mom’s love language must be gifts (based on things more than just Christmas). There were always piles of stuff for my brother, sister, and I to open, each in a different color paper.
My earliest Christmas memory, I was 7 or 8. We had ripped through our piles of stuff, and my brother, four years younger, had a meltdown because there was a particular toy he had wanted and didn’t get.
I have no idea what the toy was. I have no idea what he did get. I have no idea what I got.
But I remember being agitated that he had gotten all of these toys—presumably many of which he wanted—and he wasn’t happy.
(At this point in my life, I realize that he was three or four years old…but Child Heat didn’t give him that pass.)
As I grew up, I was religious and hated that the religious significance was drastically overshadowed by materialism—both in the culture at large and in our house.
(Don’t read too much piety into that. I always had a Christmas list and didn’t ever say I wanted nothing.)
When, during college, I became very much not religious, I still hated the materialism.
(I believe that much of the distaste came from other gift-related issues with my mom that were just overbearingly present at Christmas. Another story for another day.)
I don’t remember a time when I felt like I was part of my family of origin, or a time when I wasn’t ostracized. So holidays that are “for family” were torturous.
Years passed, The Tall Daddy and I got married, and I was so excited to have Christmas with his family. They were kind and loving to me—so unfamiliar and welcome—and finally (FINALLY!) I would have a holiday that’s about family with family.
Turns out, they didn’t do much for Christmas. Siblings lived in different states and some of them might get together at some point during that week off, but most stayed home with their kids.
It’s not that those years were bad so much as anticlimactic. (Also, The Tall Daddy and I gigged on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, so there’s that.)
The Christmas after that marriage ended, I had the flu.
The year after that, The Kid and I went to New Jersey. He was four. While we had dinner with a friend and her family, we spent Christmas Day in a hotel room, doing our own thing, just a few miles from my parents’ house.
It was so healing.
The next two Christmases were spent in Florida with The Climbing Daddy’s family, and while the second was not as bad as the first, those are not holidays I care to revisit.
This year … we’re at home. It’s just us. We’re settled into our house. (Last year, we moved right before heading to Florida.)
The Kid loves Christmas and decorations. Always has. The house isn’t totally decked out, but there are more decorations up than if I was left to my own devices. And it looks lovely. He loves Santa (though he’s always known that Santa isn’t real). And, of course, he loves getting LEGOs.
And so I am hopeful that this year, Christmas will be nice. Maybe even amazing.
I’m planning to take some of the traditions from my family of origin—little details that I loved—and hang onto them in ways that fit me now, with good friends. And leave the stuff I didn’t love. And add in other pieces that maybe someday my son will remember fondly as “something we did at Christmas when I was a kid.”
It’s been a long time comin’, but maybe this is my year.
(Also, I’m anxious that I’m putting too much into it and have a high likelihood of being let down. But I’ve pretty much always lived by the notion that the results are best when you’re all in, so………….)