Back during the brief few years in my adulthood when I used to go to church, one of my favorite things it did was a Blue Christmas ceremony early in the season. I never actually attended it, because it wasn’t something I needed for myself at the time, but I liked the idea. The holidays are not some picture perfect Norman Rockwell gathering for everyone. For people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, grappling with illness, loneliness, depression, even poverty, they can be a really stressful and lonely time.
While I’m pretty good at staying positive and focusing on the good in my life, I have to admit that I’m having a hard time these past few weeks and am feeling really alone and aware that when my mom passes, I truly will be alone. I don’t know if it’s the holiday, the idea of moving, feeling uninspired by the work that used to light me up, stress in general, or all of the above, but the start of the holiday season this year has me feeling really alone and fragile in a way that I’ve not ever experienced before. They always say that caregiving is really isolating, but up until lately, I hadn’t really felt that, because I am generally pretty happy doing my own thing and, even though my family is really small, I do have nice friends.
While my family is really small, the only time I really notice how alone we are is during the holidays. Before my mom got sick, we’d spend Thanksgiving with friends and we didn’t really celebrate Christmas in the way most people do. Sometime after my dad died 22 years ago, we stopped exchanging gifts. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point our holiday celebration morphed into choosing a charity to donate to, having a nice meal, and getting tickets for a play or concert we’d both enjoy and it was lovely.
Now that it’s a bit harder to go out and do those things, our tradition has again transitioned into spending the day quietly at home, pretending it’s just a normal day. Even if we wanted to exchange gifts, it wouldn’t be much of an exchange. It’s not like my mom is going out shopping and it just feels sad, empty, and very one-sided to wrap presents no one will remember an hour later. The same goes for cooking giant turkeys and sides that will result in weeks worth of leftovers. And I’m just not up for entertaining others here right now. And that’s why I’ve not really celebrated either Christmas or Thanksgiving for a few years now.
I wish I had some happy, uplifting germ of wisdom to finish off this post with, but I got nothin’ except for that the only way out is through. I know that the nature of the universe is that everything moves in cycles. This sadness will pass and I’ll be back to my usual self if I wait it out. For now, it’s just a shadowy time and, holiday or not, it is what it is and I’m not up for pretending it is anything other than that.
I am off to exercise a big heap of self-care in the form of a book and some pie. Whatever you are doing today, I hope you enjoy it.