The holidays are fast approaching and I find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable. Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m somebody who dreads parts of the holiday season during an average year. My parents have been divorced since I was 8 years old so I’ve been doing to “split the holidays” dance for as long as I can remember… and keep in mind, that was a waltz between two families. Now add my husband’s side and my sisters in-laws to the mix (who always extend an invite) and you can imagine the tug-of-war and guilt that goes along with devising the holiday plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and just about every other holiday that people find important. I’ve tried everything from eating multiple dinners in one day to splitting visits across 3 days to scheduling everyone at our house without overlap (which did not really work or eliminate the stress as I’d hoped it would). Either way you feel like someone or some group is being slighted–including yourself. I find myself trying so hard to please everyone else that my own wants are pushed aside. I literally begin stressing about the holidays in September. And, as the families know that we have many to choose from, they also start trying to solidify plans with us earlier to catch us first. I’m not sure if that is intentional or if that’s just how it feels to me after all of this time.
Besides the big questions around “where do we go?” I find that venturing out into public becomes a nightmare around the holidays. People drive erratically and fight over parking spaces in high volume shopping areas. They push each other over to get the last fad-of-the-year toy on the shelf. Checkout lines are a mile long. I always hold off to the last minute then try to knock out all of my shopping in 3 days.
Thanksgiving has never been my holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem giving thanks—I just wish that the turkey and cranberry sauce could be replaced with lasagna and spaghetti and the football—well, that could just disappear all together as far as I’m concerned! Having said all of that, there are many things that I love about Christmas. The lights draped across my neighbor’s rooftops. The piney smell of a real Christmas tree in my living room. Listening to holiday music while I curl up with my husband and dogs on the couch, staring at the lights and decor placed in every corner of our home. Hot cocoa with peppermint and marshmallows. Giving gifts to the people that I care about. Attending church on Christmas Eve–especially when I can hear the chiming of the bell choir playing classic carols. Having our annual backyard bonfire, which has become a tradition among our family and friends.
The holidays are going to be so different than I imagined. I know it may sound selfish, but I felt like this year was our year. I’ve spent so much time sharing in our family’s Christmas celebrations–going to their homes and being a part of their lives. So much time watching the world around us enjoy the holidays with their kids. So much time wishing it could be us and feeling like it would never happen. Then we got pregnant. I thought that this year was going to be our time. To spend Christmas at our home as our own family unit. To begin our own traditions. To share memories that were completely new and different from anything we’d ever experienced. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to add that hokey “baby’s first christmas” ornament to our tree. To make and hang Rylan’s stocking. To have people as interested in sharing in our family as we do in theirs. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby in my arms while sitting by the tree at night. I couldn’t wait to read him Christmas books from my childhood. I couldn’t wait to bundle him up in cute, holiday outfits and show people how proud I am to be his mommy. I wanted to join that group that sends family photo cards attached to update letters about their family members and what they’ve been involved in this year.
Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t really feel like doing anything. If I could I’d probably run to Hawaii or lock myself in my room and hibernate until after May 12th. I considered sending Christmas cards that double as the thank you’s that I haven’t yet sent. Well, you have to write them out to send them, I suppose. I think about wanting to do them, I just haven’t had the emotional energy to actually follow through. So maybe that’s a good option. I want to avoid everything-especially the families that I will encounter in every store, every hallway, every restaurant, every public bathroom, on every t.v. commercial, catalogue, and hallmark movie…among others. As far as traveling to the homes of friends and family this year, I just don’t want to. I feel torn. I want to see everyone–I love them–but at the same time want to be at home–alone. I feel like I put on a brave face for people every single day–at work, for family-birthday celebrations, for visits with friends. Over the holidays I want to be able to feel when I feel, as silly as it sounds. I want to be able to cry the second the sadness makes its way to my eyes–with no discomfort or worry about what others will think or with concern over how uncomfortable it makes them feel. I want to sleep all day if I’m tired. I want the quality time with my immediate family that I expected–even if it has to be without Ry. I want to have some good memories with Chris this year–I think that’s very important. We actually talked about going away. Traveling to some small, Christmas town. Escaping the norm this season–after all, the norm isn’t our life right now. We’ve contemplated the idea…as Christmas towns will surely harbor large amounts of family festivities. So who knows if that will happen. Plus, I work Monday, Tuesday, and Friday that week. Doesn’t exactly make it easy to take a long weekend. Chris and I have talked and decided that we want people to donate money in Rylan’s name in place of buying us gifts. It was Chris’ idea and I think it’s a great one. We just have to nail down some charities that we feel would be best–all we know is that we want it to benefit children. I would also like to find some way to volunteer this season–to help someone/people in need. I’m not sure how yet, but I definitely feel the urge to do something positive for others.
Well, it’s late and I’ve found this post to be a bit of a ramble. I guess my point is that I need the holidays to be considerate of us this year, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I want to acknowledge our son’s life even if he’s not in our arms. I want to be comfortable. Spend time at home. To be able to keep our plans unplanned–flexible to change as little or as often as needed to accommodate our aching hearts. I want to have some smiles. I want to feel warm. I want to feel loved.
Before I go I have just one thing left to say.
I miss Rylan so much.