Monday, December 22, 2014
We celebrate Christmas and I mean no disrespect to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, but rather some other seasonal celebration. In this post, I use Christmas because it is what happened in our house, but it could really be any holiday – Hanukkah, Kwanza, or others. But these are my memories and this is how I remember it.
It happens every year. Just like clockwork the holiday season arrives and we all breathe a deep sigh. For some people it is a sigh of joy and delight, but for others not so much. There are those that a sigh is used to boost their strength or indicates a feeling of “here we go again.” I know both kinds of sigh and, believe me, the first one is much better.
I remember Christmas’ of joy and delight. I remember seeing twinkling in my children’s eyes and the fun of visiting Santa Claus. It was a happy time filled with gatherings of family and friends, tree trimming, and… oh… so much… fabulous food.
Then there was the other kind of Christmas. Those Christmas’ were filled with worry, doubt, anger and disappointment. When Riley was in a period of making alcohol his mistress, he did not attend the children’s winter concerts nor did he participate in any preparation for the holidays. Mostly, Riley was just absent both physically and mentally. When he was around for a gathering, he was always so drunk that he broke glasses, knocked over Christmas trees, and made suggestive comments to any woman within sight.
After a few of these Christmas failures, I learned not to really include Riley as a factor in the season’s celebrations. I attended parties alone or with a friend. I never even implied to the kids that Riley would go to their concerts. I didn’t expect he would help with things such as shopping, tree trimming, food preparation or going to see Santa. He became an invisible entity within the house. But, then, I didn’t have to worry much about his presence because he was rarely at our home.
I considered myself as somewhat of a single parent and acted in that manner. I refused to let Riley’s “scroogness” have any bearing on my finding joy. I suppose you could say I “detached” from Riley and just continued on. It doesn’t matter what word you use to describe it, the end result was that it worked for me.
Riley was still somewhat a part of things at Christmas. He read the gift tags and handed out the packages to all of us. He ate Christmas breakfast with us and often stuck around for Christmas dinner. But after dinner he was gone and wouldn’t return for days. It was almost a blessing he was gone because I didn’t have to have conversations with someone who wasn’t quite able to follow the chain of exchanges.
The Christmas’ since Riley had his heart attack have been decreasing in intensity – at least for me. Riley doesn’t seem to care about Christmas except that we have a tree and a huge Christmas feast. We don’t have company during that time so it is just two people trying to enjoy some holiday spirit. But, the enjoyment feels forced.
This year, there will be no tree and our neighbors will be bringing us a plate full of their Christmas feast. I did send out Christmas cards to a few people, I made some holiday wreaths, and that’s about it. I don’t feel that I’m missing anything. My daughter and the rest of the family will be getting together for the whole big Christmas blow out. But, it’s too far for us to go to them especially with Riley as sick as he is so we will talk in the morning and probably in the evening. They will post pictures on Facebook and I’ll be able to see the great-grandkids smiling faces. That will be enough for me this year.
I have hopes of better Christmas’s in the future. I envision that I will be able to go to my grandson’s house and spend several days enjoying the season. The great-grands will be ages 9, 5 and 1 years old. They will be helping me bake cookies and make tree ornaments. We’ll see Santa as he rides down the street on a fire engine. There will be shopping with the adults and lots of yummy food.
Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future… good and bad, even some just so-so. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which kind it will be until it is upon me. One thing I know for sure is that Christmas will come again as it does every year. Same date, without fail Christmas will arrive.
Today I’m hoping for a sigh of joyful expectations for all my readers for this and every holiday season.
at 7:15 AM