Christmas may occur on the same day every year, but every year it hits me differently. Especially, every year since 1997 when she passed away from cancer a week before Christmas.
For our small, middle class family of four, she WAS the embodiment of Christmas. She loved everything about Christmas! I hate to be an anchor but when she died, the spirit of Christmas went with her.
The weekend after Thanksgiving was only the beginning. My Mom would request I climb up into a dark, rather scary attic to bring down the plastic Christmas Tree. And of course, I also had to drag down the ornaments, the lights, the blah, blah, blah.
All I did know was this was time away from G.I. Joe’s / LEGOs that gave way to Role Playing Games such as Robotech, and eventually my Nintendo video game playing. An annoyance that was momentary, because once down it would keep her occupied for hours.
Next she would start playing her Christmas music CDs – yes, many – on her red ‘boom box’. The same songs would be repeated throughout the days for the next 30 days. I’m fairly certain that I’m easily triggered by them like a latent super spy.
She had decorations for days – all dedicated to Christmas. She was a practicing Catholic so Christmas was grounded in religion, not in commercialism. I believe it was irksome that the rest of her family wasn’t Catholic.
She truly embodied the spirit of Christmas. That said, she still wanted to provide the best for us, and her family in the Philippines. We didn’t have much in the way of disposable income for the ‘family checkbook’.
My sister and I understood that while we couldn’t request exuberant gifts like we really wanted to, we could request reasonable ones. My Dad’s family didn’t like one another so we were not obligated to visit, and Mom’s lived several thousand miles away.
So Christmas morning was all about passing out presents, then we would receded to our self-absorbed activities until dinner. Some say it was lonely, but I considered it solitary, self-care time.
I actually enjoyed Christmas this way.
In the years that followed her death, I wouldn’t shit on anyone would loved Christmas. And I mean LOVED everything Christmas. Their experience isn’t the same as mine. Frankly, good on them. Just because I don’t have overly joyful memories of this time year, didn’t mean I should lash out on those that did.
As I said, each year since 1997 it hits me differently. Some years I’m the Grinch of Christmas that has an inexplicable emptiness, and loneliness. Other years, I find moments of joy throughout the month of December that will buoy me through the season.
This year, you ask?
I’m neither the Grinch or Santa Claus. I have my traditions that I honor: December 1st, Tabula Rasa Day.
At least watching in any order from December 1st to December 31st, Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
Chopping down a Christmas Tree at Farmer Brown’s – although, I’m beginning to wonder if my money better spent elsewhere.
And a few other traditions.
I think my heart and head believes these are effort to honor my Mom’s memory of Christmas. At some point, I project that 12/25 will be just another date on the calendar.
What are your comments on Christmas?