After a divorce in 2014, for my own emotional and physical health, I chose to begin to see the holidays differently. Fraught with expectations and memories, Thanksgiving and Christmas were mixed with things to look forward to and many let downs. It took me a long time to realize that I was extremely tired of what they had become. I don’t mean in the commercial sense. I mean how painfully sorry I was that my mother was gone and that children were no longer children.
This year, rather than counting down until Christmas, I thought of it as just another day in the year. I am not a religious person, so I was not abandoning any church-going activities. Holiday songs have usually been enjoyable, and there are the traditional albums that we always listened to. The story of the manger and the baby Jesus was one that I grew up with, and I can’t pinpoint anything about that which has caused me pain.
But every year I would forget how hard the prior years’ holidays had been, and every year I would repeat the same pain. A secret childhood wish I had for Santa Claus was for him to bring a hundred thousand dollars. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t have plans on spending it. It was just to have — a magical way to fix all that was wrong. I am not sure where I came up with that amount. We were poor for a few years, often without heat or food. My mother did as much as she could, and my dad was not a part of helping us in any way. So in my childhood mind, that hundred thousand dollars seemed practical. I knew I could ask for more, but I didn’t. Santa didn’t come through, anyway, but ultimately, things got better as my mother finished college, got a few different jobs, and eventually sold her house to move south with us.
For several of my young years, I also asked for a Barbie make-up head, an Easy Bake Oven, and a Lite-Brite. Santa never delivered. It was during those “Barbie head” years that I began to think that Santa and my mom were having secret conversations.
This year, I gave my son a small food gift set and some chocolate covered cherries, did the dishes for my life partner (as it is one of his committed chores), and gave myself a Christmas shower and hair washing for no reason (I wasn’t going anywhere). Sounds silly, but it was a good day. No expectations. No problems. No hurt feelings or let-downs.
Today, I got a phone call from a beloved cousin wishing me a Happy Day After Christmas. (I have been posting on Facebook a countdown to the day after Christmas for about 2 weeks.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my pets who hasn’t been feeling well is perking up. It’s 63 degrees here, which is a bit ridiculously on the warm side, and raining, but oddly I’m not sore from it. I expect that’s because it’s not cold. And, I’m just hanging out doing very little. I’d put another load in the dishwasher, but we’re out of pods (and milk, and other things) and one of us needs to run to the store.
It is better for me to be stable — for each day to be “just another day.” I do well when I don’t get overly excited or overly down.
So Happy Day After Christmas to you. Ancestry and FamilySearch are incredibly slow today, so I would imagine many of you are enjoying your time doing some online research. I ordered a Family Finder kit for my significant other.
My close friend gave me a gift card last week. I shed a few tears over that. With my gift card, I bought a new purse, an infinity scarf, and a warm hat with a poofy white ball on the top. I figured if I were 30 years younger, I’d look like a co-ed. It’s still cute, regardless. I’m stuck deciding what to get myself with the rest of it. A good problem to have.
On Friday, I saw another good friend who came into town for Christmas. She said it was good for her soul to see me, and I felt the same.
The nicest thing I did for myself was to not set any expectations for ME. Because I have been an over-achiever perfectionist, that has been a big deal this year.
Thank you for reading today and always. I hope to finish an ancestor’s story before the end of the year. That’s not an expectation. It’s just something to think about doing. If I don’t make it, no harm no foul.