This Christmas is a new experience for me. I’m single, living alone for the first time in nine years and I’m not with my family. Well, I’m not with my immediate family. It hit me hard yesterday, I’ve only spent one Christmas away from my parents and brother, I was feeling lonely. So, I went to my grandmother’s house and we made five pounds of cookies the size of my fingernail. I shit you not, the size of my fingernail. It helped immensely to spend that time with her, to reconnect. She’s so different from me, so conservative, religious and old fashioned, and while there’s nothing wrong with her living her life the way she wants it limits the things I can share with her, tell her. But yesterday we were closer than we’ve been since I was a teenager. I needed that. I might still be feeling a touch lonely, but this morning I’m much more peaceful about it.
When I was growing up, and I’m not going to get into specifics or how fucked up my childhood was or how I should be pitied because I shouldn’t, there was a lot of chaos. Christmas, however, was the one day I could count on no one being drunk, no one getting hit, no one screaming or fighting or cussing or walking out the door. Christmas was magic for me. Not because of religious reasons, I won’t get into my religious beliefs, they’re personal. Christmas was magic because I got to be a normal kid for a day. As a young adult I struggled with my relationships with my parents. Christmas was a day when everything petty and lingering from my childhood was put aside and we all reminded each other that underneath all the crazy and the mean we really love each other. And we do. We love each other fiercely. So fiercely at times that we can’t stop ourselves from reacting to each other’s actions aggressively, because we worry about each other. Is it right? Probably not. But that’s how we deal with things.
As I got older and experienced more of the world my family and I, we hashed things out. We all realize that we are adults and no one can control anyone else’s actions. We’ve resolved to be there for one another, love and support each other even if we don’t agree with what the other is doing. We got closer, they got me through my ex-husband’s deployments, we supported my brother through his divorce. When one of us lost a job or had a hardship we all banded together to help, not out of obligation, but out of love. Two Christmases ago we decided we wouldn’t buy each other gifts, we would make them. My brother and I sat on the floor in my parent’s living room sifting through childhood photos, making a collage. We laughed, cried and realized that that was Christmas. That is what Christmas is about, at least to us. Christmas is family, gratitude, love, joy, togetherness and happiness, even when things are sad. Christmas is a time to realize that we may not have everything, but what we do have is precious, fucking precious. Christmas is about not taking your family, biological or otherwise, for granted. Christmas isn’t just a religious event for me. It’s a day of happy reflection.
I didn’t realize how emotional writing this would make me. I need a tissue, some more coffee and to call my family, so I can connect with them even if I can’t be there. I just wanted to explain that when I say Merry Christmas, it’s about more than a religious holiday. It’s about the beauty in the world we live in.