Surviving Christmas

I got really depressed over Christmas this year. 

I went to fill stockings on Christmas Eve, which now hang on hooks in front of the ‘stein cabinet’ because we no longer have a fireplace. As I was pulling the stockings off, I started noticing the photographs in the cabinet: my Grandpa Keith,  who used to call every Christmas from Oklahoma City, when long distance calls were still something really special. Tom’s dad, Wayne who never got to meet Ely, but would have adored her. Tom’s grandparents, my Great Grandma…

I used to have a huge family.  I have Christmas photos where there are 4-5 generations in a single picture. My Grandma’s house at Christmas was packed with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, significant others, friends. We’d barely fit in the house without tripping over each other. My grandma would cook for days.

This year, I got a card from one brother, the other sent my daughter a card and some cash. I got a text from my sister.  That’s it. My world of family and friends has gone from a stuffed-house-full to the three of us and the dogs. 

Which I’m ok with. Really I am. I love that it’s quiet,  that I can sit around all day in sweats and slippers, that I can be with my favorite two people in the world without drama or distraction and enjoy my holiday.

Still, there’s that photo.  My grandpa smiling at me from inside the stein cabinet… I can hear his voice on the phone,  feel his legendary laugh. It breaks something inside when I think about how we looked forward to those Christmas phone calls,  that it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve had one… that I’ll never have one again. 

Usually I can smile,  appreciate the bittersweet memory and move on.  This year,  I couldn’t get past it. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been sick for a week and my resilience was down I saw that picture and just spiraled. I missed him horribly.  I couldn’t deal with the old movies this year,  they were a stark reminder of watching them with Mom.

My cousins, I haven’t seen since we were kids. Only one I have on Facebook, the rest I have no idea where they are or who they are anymore. Of my aunts and uncles, the last time I saw them in person was at a funeral.

I didn’t even send out Christmas cards. It was just depressing how few people I had to send them to. I wondered how many of those actually noticed or cared.  I tried telling myself that we have SO much and I should be over the moon happy instead of mourning what’s missing.

But everything was just hard this year.  It didn’t matter what pep talks or admonition I gave myself,  it didn’t change that or snap me out of it.

So today I decided enough was enough.  It was time to kick some dirt over that shit and move on. I packed up the holiday and put it away.

You know what? I feel better. 

The house is cleaner, it’s less cluttered and so is my heart.

I remembered whole cleaning that several years ago, I made a vow to myself to stop chasing after people. If I was not a priority in their life, I didn’t go running after old memories or relationships that were one-sided. I let them go and focused on the people that I was important to.

I realized this Christmas that I’d basically been doing the opposite of that. I was chasing after ghosts, mourning what was lost instead of celebrating all the amazing things I have. I’m thinking I’ll have a better New Year’s. Next Christmas I’ll go read this post if I start to spiral and remind myself that it’s ok to miss those that are gone… but it’s not ok to go lie down and die along with them.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or at least survived as well and that you have a hopeful (and healthy!) New year.


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