You may be a very happy person who is always thrilled about Christmas drawing near, as are some of my dearest friends. If that’s the case I would suggest you delete this post without reading it, because it isn’t for you, and I don’t want to depress you. However, if you avoid the stores that started playing Jingle Bells early this year, this may be for you. I just want to tell you that you’re okay. There is nothing wrong with you except something has likely traumatized you enough times during the Christmas season when the jolly songs were playing that you can no longer function as well emotionally as you usually do. You’re being bombarded with those memories every time that music begins or those bells start ringing or people start wishing you merry Christmas. I know how you feel.
Last week I walked through a local grocery store in search of several items, and the stocked shelves with holiday baking goods mocked me. Mom and I had last shopped together in this store. Now she’s gone. I cried throughout that shopping experience. Very embarrassing. Mom would have loved having a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at her house, and she would gladly make every single dish, as long as people would show up. She went out of her way to make foods Mel and I, both celiacs, could eat. If it had been up to her, the whole world could show up at her doorstep and she would have been thrilled. Me, if Mel’s working a holiday, I turn off the phones, take a hot bath, or even stay in bed late and watch a movie to take my mind off the world going on outside, because I don’t want to be a part of it. I did go to be with Mom when she was alive, because I knew she wanted my company. But now I don’t have that drawing me out.
I sang in church choir for about 30 years. From September to the end of December, I practiced the same kinds of songs, was urged to go caroling, urged to enjoy the Christmas lights, urged to wear Christmas clothing, and was soundly berated when I didn’t fall in line. What was wrong with my Christmas spirit? A couple of years ago, I dropped out of choir. I couldn’t face another long season of torture, because even the beautiful, holy songs I used to love began to take their toll on me. Instead of calling to mind the birth of my Savior, my brain honed in on funerals, family discord, broken lives–oh, yes, I recall vividly the day after one Christmas when I was asked for a divorce. Too personal? Not for those of us who have been through this kind of thing. What is it about this season that brings out the worst in some of us?
Maybe you could tell me if age has something to do with it. One friend who is my age almost to the day, and who has been fighting cancer for years, absolutely loves Christmas and everything about it, from caroling, to putting up trees, to giving gifts. Yet some of us, who are obviously the minority, wish we could find a comfortable cave and hide until January. I’m not sure why that happens to some of us. Personality type? I wish I knew.
Whatever the cause, to those of you who identify, I’m glad you know you’re not alone. Today I’m supposed to show up at a Christmas party for grief recovery group. Really? Hello? I’m going, I suppose. I don’t want to. I’m dreading it. If you’ve ever been through this, you are SO NOT alone. Much love from me to you if you’ve ever been called a scrooge, a grinch, a killjoy, a whiney-butt. You can get past this next month, and I, for one, will not tell you to cheer up and put on your party face. You can even cry if you want to.
You are not alone.