When I was 30 Christmases as I had known them changed forever. That was the year my mother died. Everything changed that year. When the matriarch of the family dies the traditions die with her. We tried to keep things alive, we had Christmas at my sister’s house as she had the only grandchild, things weren’t the same, but they were still nice.
Then there was a falling out between me and my niece. Well not a falling out really, she got mad at me and refuses to be in my presence. There isn’t much I can do, not that I haven’t tried, I have. I could speculate all day what has happened between the two of us, but at this point it doesn’t make much difference. This has however, ruined many relationships for me in my family. Family Christmases became a thing of the past.
After Stuart and I became a family we started having Christmas celebrations with friends, as Stuart’s family lives a long way away and they don’t do much for the holiday anyway, again they are without the matriarch. We normally celebrated Christmas day alone, just us, but leading up to that time, we went to parties and had people over to our home to celebrate. It was a joyous time. Then I got sick, and things changed. We no longer got invited to parties. I no longer felt that I could throw a party. Then we moved so there is no likelihood of rekindling that time. Truthfully, we’ve all changed so much, I don’t think there could be any rekindling even if we do move back to our old city, or if I miraculously got better. Let’s be honest, my old friends really are just that, old friends. They aren’t a part of my current life.
The last few years I’ve tried to be okay with the holiday. But truth be told, I’ve been very depressed. Depression runs rampant during this time of year and I was not immune. I tried hard not to feel bad that I wasn’t surrounded by people. I’ve had the one person near me who means the most to me, why should I be depressed? Because Christmas is a time for friends and family. A time for gatherings. It was the two of us, yet I felt lonely. And I felt guilty that I didn’t feel that it was enough. I was depressed and felt guilty for being depressed.
Over the past few years I haven’t cared about decorations, we had no tree. Why hassle with it? No one would see it. No one would care. We’d have a little celebration. We’d try, but it all seemed like we were just going through the motions. Christmas is for groups of people, not just the two of us, and we didn’t have a family.
This year has changed. No we still don’t have a family, and we aren’t celebrating with any friends. (We still don’t have any locally) I changed. I realized that Christmas really isn’t about family and friends. It’s all about how you feel inside. It’s not about giving the biggest gift it’s about giving to those in need. It’s not about being with a bunch of people it’s about caring for those you are with. It’s about caring for mankind.
This year I decided to decorate. I never go all out like some people, that just isn’t me, but we put up a tree, and did a little decorating in the house. It has made all the difference in our home. We are in the spirit. I understood just how much when my loving husband was looking through Amazon and found the National CASA Association Wish List, they provide Toys for Foster Kids, and told me that if I hadn’t purchased his presents yet he wanted the money to go to buying these kids presents. How special is that? So we took most of the money we planned to spend on our Christmas presents and bought Toys for Foster Kids. Realize I did say most, I decided we needed a little gift exchange between the two of us, just a little something.
We also have other traditions we are going to make sure we revitalize. We always watch, It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. This has been a long standing tradition. This year we are bringing back putting together the Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle, and our LEGO Christmas Train. The train will be put together this weekend. The puzzle goes together on Christmas day. I don’t have a lot of traditions. We cook a few little things as the time goes on, and health permits. We’ve made some cookies so far, we’ll make spiced nuts to give to our neighbors, we’ll make a special breakfast on Christmas day…. The point is we are making this Holiday season ours. And if at any time I can’t do something because I don’t feel like it we can postpone until later, or just decide not to do it. All is good during our holiday celebration.
How can you make the season less depressing and more your own? Remember that it really isn’t about family and friends, it’s about love and giving. Love everyone and give to those in need. Honor traditions you want to, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Make new traditions, like putting together a themed puzzle on Christmas day. Put up decorations if you want. If you aren’t able to put up everything you want to, then either ask for help, or try to pick out your favorite decorations and put those out. We have a small tree, and not all my ornaments fit, so I sit my favorites around as decorations. The point is to make the holiday your holiday now. Don’t try to make it what it was when you were well, or what it was when you were growing up, or any dream holiday you have been trying to live up to. Make this holiday something special, on your own terms.
Sometimes no matter how much we try to make the holiday a pleasant thing for us, it just doesn’t work, depression takes over. For those who get depressed during this time of year, remember that you are not alone. If you need to reach out, please do so, there are numbers at the end of this post if you are in need. If you need a friend to talk to please feel free to contact me.
- U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 If you are having thoughts of suicide, call this number immediately.
- Kristin Brooks Hope Center Hopeline: 1-800-784-2433 This hotline can help you cope with a range of depressive feelings.
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) Responders understand the unique experiences of veterans.
- United Way Helpline: 1-800-233-4357 They can aid you in locating a therapist, healthcare or basic necessities such as housing and food by directing you to local services.