Another year of just surviving the holidays has come and almost gone. Christmas is about being with family and loved ones. I woke up with my dogs (yes they are loved ones.) I thought about how sweet it is to have small children around on Christmas. I thought about how sweet it is to be in love on this special day. I thought about how half my family is dead already. And that I miss them.
So I went to yoga. One of our teachers has the tradition of offering the gift of a free Christmas class. Moving my body felt good. I could connect with my outer strength, hoping it would lead to inner strength. Sweat made my body shine. My wonky knees and foot pain were held a bit at bay. Tears that were there at the start of class had subsided.
But then my Mom’s favorite Christmas song played, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, and I had to leave the room.
My mom really loved the holidays, every single one of them. She had so many Christmas decorations! Before she got sick, she and I did a trip to Germany to shop the Christmas markets. I have pictures of us, bundled up in the driving sleet, sipping Gluhwein. She made a strata for breakfast every Christmas morning. Today my breakfast was coffee and Xanax. She would make an elaborate Christmas dinner, often trying out new recipes. I miss that.
My brother, too, loved Christmas, until towards the end, when life had beaten him down. He would wear a Santa hat and his Christmas lights vest (it hangs in my closet now, I cannot bear to wear it today.) He came bearing gifts for all and bottles of rum for himself (of course he would share.)
Our family has dwindled. My own daughters are grown and spending the day with their guys. It’s just another day, really. The significance of the day is a construct. I texted the crisis line and was connected with Mary (get it? Mary Christmas!) Just knowing that someone was on the other end helped. I’m going to get my shit together and go see a Clint Eastwood movie with my dad. I’ll be all right.
People tell me I have a great life, and I do. I have a good job; stressful, but also joyful, and with good pay and benefits. I do what I want, when I want. I travel at every possible opportunity. Lots of people can’t do that. I’m very lucky. But the flip side is, I’m alone a lot. I have to fight the emptiness. The tendency to swim down and stay there.
So I guess the message is, count your blessings. I was blessed to have a close family. Now many are gone. But I’m still lucky in many ways. I have Mary. I have the dogs. I have the people who are in my life even though they are not right here.
Next year, to hell with it, I am taking off to Bora Bora or something, some island where Christmas does not even exist except as a cute tradition that other people participate in.
*Crisis Text line: 741741