Yesterday I attended a Christmas party…not your typical Christmas party, but one I threw for myself, and the main dish that was served was a big ole helping of pity.
I always give myself a big pep talk around the beginning of November. I tell myself “I’m going to enjoy the holidays if it kills me. I don’t care that we’re nearly flat broke, childless, and our families are dysfunctional to the point of needing professional intervention we’re going to have fun!”
Around the second or third week in December reality sets in and I usually have a big ole Christmas pity party. This year I decided to throw that party a little early.
At this point in my life the fact that we won’t ever have children has firmly set in, but the truth is traditional Christmas with no children equals some amount of torture for a couple who dreamed seeing rosy cheeks and eyes full of wonder on Christmas mornings. I’m fine when I stay away from situations that remind me of what I can never have, but the holiday season is chock full of those painful reminders. You either choose to participate and endure the reminders, or you withdraw and begin to feel like Ebenezer Scrooge to some extent. I’ve done both in the past, but for the sake of those who love me and want me around I participate in most festivities. I always think about who might not be there next year. It seems vitally important that I savor every holiday moment with those I love, because I/we are not guaranteed the next day much less the next year.
While we have developed our own Christmas traditions they are not anything that anyone would consider normal. More often than not we are so busy traveling, attending parties, and working as usual that we don’t get much decorating done. “What’s the use?” we usually say. Decorating is usually the one thing we mostly opt out of, and while we may not do a tree or wrap the house in lights we usually pull out a few little decorations just so we don’t appear like we belong to one of those cults that do not celebrate Christmas at all.
I can try to spin everything in a positive light, but I feel I would be lying to myself and to those who read my blog. The truth is the holidays are just hard for the childless not by choice at least to some extent. I’ve never met a childless couple who did not admit to some level of sadness that accompanies the holidays. While Christmas is (and should be) about the birth of the Christ child it’s also about children and families. But sometimes folks don’t have the Norman Rockwell type of family meaning their family may be dysfunctional, they may have lost one or both parents, and if you are like us you’ve not been able to have children. The end of the year also reminds us of another year that has passed without the coo of a baby, the laughter of children in our house and/or the fact that some people we love are no longer with us.
So, it’s difficult at times, and yesterday was one of the difficult days for me. This has been a difficult year in a lot of ways, and it all came crashing in on me. It was so bad that my husband laid with me on the bed for around two hours while I cried and “released” everything I was feeling. I could feel his anguish over not being able to fix things for me. He’s such a trooper. Anyone else would have committed me by now.
I’m better today, and the upside of all of this isthe holidays are no longer complete misery for me. I enjoy being around my extended family and watching our niece’s wide-eyed wonder when she opens her gifts, but there are always a few Christmas pity parties I feel obligated to attend.
I’m praying for those of us who find ourselves in less than ideal conditions this holiday season. I especially pray that we will find ways to avoid having to attend Christmas Pity Parties, because to be honest the entertainment stinks, and the food and drink are really bitter…