As I get older, I find the pomp of Christmas to be a little overrated. Before you scream "Bah Humbug", let me at least tell you why I feel this way.
I love the buzz of the holiday season. I love seeing the lights everywhere, listening to Christmas carols, and both going to get the tree, and coming home and lighting it. I love spending time with family, watching the children open their presents, creating tradition. And while I keep my house fairly understated, I love looking at the decorated homes (though I would never want to live/manage/maintain/pay the energy bill at any of them).
However, I don't live in a Norman Rockwell painting, and things just aren't like the movies. Don't get me wrong, I had an awesome Christmas, but having to spend half of it away from my son is never easy. This is just part of divorce, but still, it's tough. Add to that, W had a fever on Christmas Eve, and by Christmas night, JH was congested enough to look, well, sick. (Years ago, my son had pneumonia on Christmas. A different year, W's mom had a fever, and one year, I had strep. I cannot remember a Christmas that everyone was healthy.) Due to the fact that both W and I are divorced, we have to pick up or drop off our children at certain times, not to mention seeing both his family and mine. So Christmas is a harried schedule of where we are driving, and when, with whom, and packing and unpacking the car with gifts. The in between, being with family -- eating and opening gifts, watching the kids play together, and sitting talking -- is amazing. That's the part that I love.
My house, a small Cape, feels jammed and claustrophobic with the tree and all of the decorations inside, despite the fact that they're pretty. This week, the needles started to fall off, the tree stopped taking water, and frankly, I wanted my house back. So today, I packed away the stockings, the ornaments, and then dragged the tree out to my Christmas tree graveyard so that the animals could enjoy it (click here to read more).
It felt good having my house back.
I was not alone on Christmas Eve nor Christmas Day, but I had some time to reflect. I was thinking about the pressure of the holiday and how people who are alone have few places to escape the loneliness that comes with Christmas. Unmet expectations can make us feel sad; having lost loved ones make our hearts long for them that much more. The holidays aren't always easy.
I do love Christmas, I do. But I am also quite happy to have my house back.