I Am That Grinch.
Just not feelin' this holiday thing.
It’s midway through December and I still have no desire to be a part of the holiday season at all.
It wasn’t always that way. This used to be my favorite time of the year.
Christmas was magical when I was a child, like I think it was for many when they were children. The magic started to wear off though when I was a teen. I think that’s normal to an extent, but for me that was also when I started losing people that I loved around the holiday season.
The first was my boyfriend’s mother. She had end stage cancer, so we knew it was coming, but it was still a shock when she passed just a couple weeks before Christmas.
Two years later I lost my best friend just a week after her 21st birthday. Followed a few years later by my closest cousin who was like a big sister to me. Those two deaths changed my life. I couldn’t process the grief, it just sort of clung to me. They passed when I was 19 and 22 years old and it took me until I was in my mid-thirties to fully come to grasp with and move forward from them.
I started doing a little better after finally moving through that grief. But then I lost a beloved uncle to suicide less than a week before Christmas. I was devastated when he died, he was a fairly new addition to the family, but quickly became one of my favorite people and I loved him dearly.
Shortly after, the old boyfriend whose mother had passed years ago died himself. We had still been in contact for years and I was shattered by his unexpected loss. He was just forty and died of an aneurysm in his sleep.
Then, the last Christmas before the pandemic began, when I was finally starting to get a grip on releasing and moving through the grief, I lost another close cousin. She had cancer, but I thought she was getting better. She passed just before Christmas.
Those losses were devastating and affected me for a really long time (they still do), especially around the holiday season. But they aren’t the only thing that’s affected my lack of holiday spirit.
When my kids were younger it was a lot easier to be the maker of the magic for their sake and that magic and youthful joy and wonder tend to rub off on you. I’ve tried to create the kind of magic that I felt as a child for them. You’d have to ask them if I’ve been successful though because I really don’t know.
But my oldest child has grown up, moved away and is married and celebrating new traditions with my daughter-in-law. We haven’t celebrated any holidays together for several years.
And I’ve been estranged from a lot of my own extended family for a while now. My Mum (my honorary mother) is far away and my sister and I never seem to quite be able to plan things together, not for lack of want, just different and busy lives.
I do my best for my youngest, but it’s hard to celebrate what is supposed to be a joyous time full of family and love with only two of the people that I love so dearly.
And this year has added even more strain than normal to the holidays. My partner lost his job right before Thanksgiving with no prospects (yet) of something new. We’re struggling in a relationship that we only just started working back on again after being separated for over a year. And the nagging depression that I still can’t quite seem to get under control with the right combination of medications is, at times, smothering. We’re broke and losing our medical insurance soon. The first is bad, but the latter is terrifying because I rely so heavily on my medication, psychiatrist and therapist to remain stable.
But I’ll suck it up, all of it, for the sake of my youngest.
Today I’ll make cookies and the almond roca that they all look forward to every year. And I’ll pack up the box with gifts and goodies to send to my son and daughter-in-law as well as one with just almond roca to send off to my Mum across the country.
Tomorrow I’ll buy a fat ham and take my youngest to Trader Joe’s to pick out a tiny Christmas tree. Then we’ll come home and eat something festive-ish while we listen to Christmas music and decorate with our now meager collection of holiday décor.
And over the weekend we’ll start watching a plethora of Christmas movies before celebrating the holiday early so that we can put everything Christmas away, pack up our van and meet our chosen family at our favorite campground for our newest tradition, our annual holiday camping trip at the beach. My favorite part of the year and the thing I look forward to most.
If you’re struggling through the season because of loss, because of depression, because of illness, because of anything at all, you’re not alone. I see you. I understand the desire to sleep through the entirety of the fucking season and wake up on January 2nd when it’s all over and done with. This time of year can really suck and you don’t have to be happy and joyous. Feel what you feel. Celebrate what you can, if you want to, or don’t celebrate at all if that feels better. You don’t have to do what you’ve always done. There’s room for something new. Even if it’s doing nothing and treating the holidays like any other day. Just do what you can and pretty soon this stress will be over, because it’s temporary, just like the feelings. It’s just a season after all.