Christmas My Way

christmas-treeWhen 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.

christams-decor

a little decorations making the holiday our own

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.

charlie-brown-puzzle

this is the actual puzzle we put together

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.
Advertisements

42 thoughts on “Christmas My Way

  1. I can relate to the loss of my mother and how it changed Christmas. It mattered that we all changed how we celebrated. We adjusted, but it was not the same. And daddy moved away and things just changed. I feel blessed to know you and the children you helped are blessed too. Thank you for sharing your heart. ❤

  2. Dearest Wendy! I too have had a falling out but with one of my sisters. We do still have the matriarch of the family but Christmases on my side are tense. (Grass is always greener). Your holiday traditions are something I am going to implement with my husband. Even though we do attend family gatherings, it is a …just get through it kind of event. Thank you for sharing this story. Kim

  3. I’ve spent so many years alone, and then alone with Miss Karma-cat, that I can’t even tell you exactly. Better part of two decades. Yes! Christmas is inside of you. The entire holiday season–from Thanksgiving to New Year’s–I LOVE! My very very favorite time of year. And I spend them alone and am pretty much poor as a church mouse–LOL! I don’t have many decorations, but then I never did have many. Twinkling lights and watching It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story–that’s my only tradition. And playing Christmas music off and on starting right after Thanksgiving.
    Wonderful post, Wendy! So glad you are making your own traditions for the two of you. 🙂 🙂

  4. Wendy, I haven’t had much Christmas spirit since my Mom died and both my boys moved to Denver. I have struggled. BUT, every year my hubby, Joe, makes a big deal of putting up two trees (yes….two trees) and outside lights. We did it again last weekend. I wasn’t much into it, but pretended I was. It brings him such joy, how can I take that away from him? He does most of the work, I wonder if he is pretending too just to make me happy? I hope you and Stuart have a wonderful holiday……I will be thinking of you when we watch our favorite Christmas movies! xoxo
    Mo

    • Mo, I hear your pain. Do you think it would hurt more if you didn’t decorate. Your mom was a Christmas angel, of course your holiday is much different. Having your sons move have also had to be a big change.
      The thing Stuart and I are trying to do is break free from Christmas past and make our Christmas present ours. Make something new that is just ours.
      I think Joe knows how much you are hurting and wants to help you the only way he knows how. He may also just love Christmas. 😊
      Thinking of you. I hope you have a joyous holiday.

  5. Wendy, your Christmas sounds perfect for you and warm and wonderful to me. “it really isn’t about family and friends, it’s about love and giving.” YES! I feel exactly the same way. Well, that and decking my halls, of course – as an ex-theatre person, I like to have the set right – even if nobody sees it but me. 🙂

    Even if I am spending Christmas totally alone – which has been most years since leaving New York – I try to spread a bit of comfort by reaching out to others any way available to me. btw – I edited your comment on Tink’s Real Elves post and added a link here.

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Oh Madelyn, you are so sweet.
      I’d love to see your Christmas decorations! And have a hot cocoa with you.
      Thank you for adding my post link to the comments. I’m glad you like it.
      Merry Christmas my friend.

      • AFTER Christmas – lol – the house if company rarely ready early (which is how celebrating on 12th Nite came about) 🙂

        Copying below HERE so you can find it (from what I added to your comment on my blog)
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~

        In the future, the easiest way is to [insert a link] is to copy the entire address of the post (once it’s published, like the public sees it – from the address bar) then paste it into your comment.

        To copy and paste:

        1-highlight the entire address in the address bar (cursor in the bar – control+A will do it, if it doesn’t highlight automatically)

        2-then do control+C (command+C for Macs)

        3-then put your cursor in the comment field and control+V will insert the copied text.

        To remember, think A for ALL, C for Copy, and V as the little insertion mark that editors make on papers to insert missing words.

        Merry, merry
        xx,
        mgh

        Merry Christmas.

        • Oh honey I know how to do it most of the time. It’s on my phone I have the problem. I can’t even get to the address bar to copy it. I’ll do it from my lap top, no problem.

          • My apologies – sorry to assume – just trying to be helpful.

            I do as little as possible on my “smart”phone – hate it, actually – not only because it limits what is possible and changes how one does things, but also because I have human-sized fingers and older eyesight. LOL
            xx,
            mgh

  6. Hi Wendy – I wish we lived closer so we could get together- I also have a small family also – but he does live close. We are having Xmas dinner today with Lou’s son and his girlfriend at my house. They will be spending the weekend. Then on Thursday we are off to Tacoma, Washington to be with my son Scott and his family. They have 2 girls ages 10 and 13. So it will be very busy up there. Coming home on Tuesday after Xmas so we can rest. Hope you both harvest a very nice Xmas and New Years. Love always Zia Dot

  7. Giving to others is how I express Christmas. With few friends, and in-laws who only give to the golden inner circle, I don’t receive many gifts. But I believe “in better to give than to receive.” I buy stuffed animals on sale through out the year so I can donate 10 or 12 at Christmas — often I get good quality toys for 75 % off. I can afford. I really hate the thought of any child going to bed without a buddy to get them through the night.
    When we are chronically ill, we often have to think of ourselves, so it is nice to think of others even if only for a short time.
    Family traditions went with my father. We really don’t have much in the way of traditions — Alistair Sim’s Christmas Carol, the original Grinch, non-traditional Christmas meals. My husband doesn’t do Christmas — no lights, decorations, tree, socializing, the stuff must folks do so slipping deeper into mental and physical illness meant little change in habits.
    One thing I wish people understood more about me — I send some gifts because it makes me feel good — the kind of thing I wish happened to me, nice to select and “wrap,” but I never expect a gift in return. It’s a something on my part because giving makes me feel good. But I’ve had people I’ve sent small, always inexpensive (got on sale/mark down ALWAYS) stop communicating as if I had done some thing wrong. Maybe I broke some code I don’t know about. Chronically ill folks reach out in what ever ways they can. Accept their gifts — concrete things and more ephemeral spirit and soul. They have much to give during this season of giving; during the entire year.
    Sorry for the blog post in a comment again.

  8. ” 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.”
    – I like this bit about adapting to how your life is now and enjoying Christmas in a way that is manageable.

  9. Christmas celebration for me is and always will be a time to give and spread joy to others weather or not they are family members. It is fine to remember past Christmas’s and how good it all was but, the world has changed so fast over the past forty years or so and we have to adapt as best we can. Having a debilitating condition can put a damper on how we would like to celebrate however we are changing and getting older and less mobile, less energy etc.. Giving to others that are less fortunate is a wonderful thing. Your post is heart warming and I am sure there will be joy and happiness this Christmas because of your kindness.
    In closing let me say Kudos! to you for caring and giving. Your gifts will bring joy, smiles and hope into the hearts of the people who receive your gifts. They will know that someone cares about them.
    I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year from my house to yours.
    Thank you for sharing your story and I will include you in my daily prayers.

    Patricia

  10. Oh, the agony! I have a female-heavy family gathering. 2 sisters and one sisters partner(yes, female) and a grumpy mum. And it’s the most passive/aggressive gathering imaginable. I’m visiting my Pa for a few hours after Christmas. I’m the only daughter who makes the effort. Seriously, I think I only now see any further family members at funerals. Not even weddings as weddings are out-dated. It’s great you still make an effort.

    • A little too much estrogen in one place huh? Families can cause so much strife. I’ve tried over and over with my family, but I’m not invited to family Christmas. and I have to say I’m happier with my tiny little family, just my hubby and the pets. Maybe some friends now and then, but there aren’t that many of them since I got sick. and that’s okay.
      You are making the effort, that is all you can do. If is worth it? or does it cause you more grief? That is a question I have to ask myself every time I make the effort. Each time I’m not sure. I don’t try this time to get together with family this time of year any more. I try for weddings and funerals. 🙂 May you have a more joyous Christmas

  11. What a great post, glad to read you are finding something that works for you. While it might seem like everyone else is having a great time, most people struggle.
    I can’t remember a single Christmas with my mum, she died when I was three. All I remember is Christmases spent with a toxic stepmother. I had a big extended family but had to leave it all behind 16 years ago. I created a version of our own Christmas for my children, yet now they have grown the nest they want to do their own thing. It does hurt me a little – my daughter spends it with her mother in law because ‘she doesn’t want to upset her’ I don’t say anything because I would hate it if my children felt obliged to come out of duty. So we all struggle at Christmas, but you are showing us, and the world, that just because things aren’t what we hoped for, there are still ways to enjoy the day. Bless you. x

    • What you describe is more the norm than not I believe. To make it different we can only do what we can. I hope you can find a way to enjoy this season. blessing to you

  12. I have MS and lost most of my friends. The past five years have been hard Christmas-wise. My son and daughter in law live with us still. She and I don’t get along and the constant feeling of being evaluated and found lacking has sucked the joy out of just about everything. This year, though, my son decided we needed to have some festivity in our lives. I blogged about how he and my daughter Gen and her husband came and decorated the house inside out. They wanted to remind me that Christmas is full of love and good memories. They wanted to surround me with memories of days spent together laughing and they succeeded.

    I get depressed a lot. I take meds that work, it’s just depression not the urge to suicide anymore. That’s one gift I gave to myself, going to the doc and explaining how I felt. And I’m still shell shocked after all the things that happened in the family, the world over the last year. But this Christmas celebrates a birth, my great-niece who was born yesterday, a sobriety at its beginning in my daughter in law, a son who has gotten his foot in the door with the federal government, and a husband who wants to retire next year. Changes happen. We’ve alienated family, twice by telling the truth someone didn’t want to hear, and the other two by standing up to being bullied. If they stick an olive branch out, we’ll take it. Not counting on it though.

    So I want to say you are right in making Christmas about love and caring. It doesn’t require a lot. A gift to a loved one to say just that, and they already know. Your gift to foster kids. Special. A gift of clean water, or clothes, or wherever you see a need. Christmas is like The Grinch. It’s more than the boxes, packages and tags. It’s a feeling. I’m a secular participant in Christmas, but I believe that we make the world a better place by taking a moment and thinking of someone other than ourselves. Pardon me for going on. I’m a Christmas show addict. Feeling like Charlie Brown with his little tree is something I’m channeling today. We watch Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed on Christmas Day. It’s something that reminds me to be still for a moment and listen. Maybe I’ll hear a bell ring and an angel will get its wings.

    • How lovely that they decorated your house for you. You mention struggles, and also wonderful ways that you are being true to yourself and the spirit of the season. Congratulations on the birth of your grand niece. You have many things to celebrate.
      Depression can over take anyone at any time. I’m glad you were strong enough to reach out and get help.
      Thank you for feeling that you could open up here. You are welcome to leave a long comment on my blog any time.
      Thank you for coming by, I’m so glad you liked my post.
      May we both hear a bell ring.

  13. As an only child, both parents passed away and my daughter and her family in the south living.

    It makes me feel old as it’s to quiet.

    We’re planning on moving( my husband and I in spring 2017)

    May I say your artwork is moving.

    I wish you and your family a happy holiday

    • Thank you. I did the two pieces on the right in my college days, my cousin’s daughter painted the piece on the left when she was in high school. I’m very glad you like it.
      My best wishes to you and your husband for a joyous holiday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s