In this week leading up to Christmas, there have been several thoroughly unfestive incidents affecting me personally, or indirectly through friends, family and other bloggers, which have left me desperately endeavouring to keep my holiday spirits high. I’ve been shocked at how much death and illness has surrounded us at this time of year; lives of friends, relatives, and celebrities have all recently fallen into cessation, leaving behind heartbroken families at a time of year when goodwill and festivities are supposed to eclipse the worries of the rest of the year.
But it’s tough, when life insists mercilessly on throwing lemons, on a schedule inconsiderate of Christmas spirit. I’ve been reading blogs of friends who are going through loss, grief, infertility and sadness, and all I want for anyone right now is to be able to enjoy the holiday season. It’s just so hard to raise a shield and feign holiday joy in the face of adversity’s relentless persistence.
My heart goes out to anybody whose Christmas this year is tainted. I’ve spent more than enough Christmases dealing with breakups, surgery and divorce, and everything at this time of year seems exacerbated by the inherent expectations of festivity and merriment. I want you to know that if you’re going through something challenging this year, my thoughts and prayers go out to you by hundredfold.
In the last two weeks, the incident with my mother exploded as a result of her determination to maintain vendettas, as opposed to recognising someone in need and having an actual heart. After years of disproportionate efforts, I’m finally done with her negativity. She knows where to find me, should she suddenly grow a conscience, but until then I made it very clear I was done, and she was not going to be coming to my wedding.
My dad, who I love dearly, got laid off from his job. A pretty high-end management position, two weeks before Christmas. Luckily he has a few interviews this week, but in this economy and at this time of year (especially when you’re paying spousal support to someone who refuses to recognise the difficulty in actually paying when you don’t have a job…), I just hope and pray he gets something soon.
Because his mother, my dear Nan back in England, is in hospital. She gets dizzy and has falls and lives by herself in a 2-storey house which poses more of a danger these days than a home. Recently she had a fall, and fractured her arm and a rib, and is being kept in a hospital until at least the New Year. The hospital is out of town, and the only relative who’d actually visit her doesn’t have a car, and hasn’t been able to take her up some clean clothes, or even visit. My dad and I are totally helpless from halfway round the world, and it’s just so disheartening that we have other relatives over there who, for the sake of maintaining grudges, won’t go and visit. And my dad can’t go over because he has interviews all week.
Last week I just broke down. Things are supposed to be happy at Christmas. And so I did everything I could to try and refocus my thoughts on how much I actually have. I have wonderful friends who come round with hugs and cake and amazingly thoughtful gifts (we even got each other the same present!). I have coworkers who send me emails, invite me to their holiday parties, and get together and pray for my Nan. I have you guys, who despite being miles away, read and write to me, offer your support and even send me cards in the post. And I have my dad, who’s been there for me my whole life, and I’m trying to be able to do the same for him.
I put up decorations, hung the cards, downloaded a bunch of Christmas music and cranked it, singing at the top of my voice while I did laundry. I made little snowflake cupcakes and bought stuff to make my first mince pies since I moved here ten years ago. I dug out Love Actually and the Polar Express and my next two nights are full of plans of cat snuggles, movies and some Hot Butter Rum. (Seriously, make some – it’s the best Christmas drink ever, and it’s the only time of year you can drink it and not feel guilty about the calories!)
I’m really thankful for what I have, for my little cat, for my friends and family, and for all of you I’ve found this past year. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to personally grow, the wonderful conversations, and the chances I’ve had to give back. If you’re going through something tough this Christmas, my heart honestly goes out to you. I hope you can take a moment to count even the smallest of blessings; those of friendship, of the work you do, of the gifts you have. And I sincerely hope and pray that 2010 brings good things for all of you.