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19 November 2005 @ 11:24 am
Of trees and decorations...  
Needless to say, the Christmas spirit has been woefully absent in the family for the last four years. Shortly before Christmas 2001, we lost my aunt to lung cancer and an aneurysm. Shortly after Christmas 2002, we lost my grandmother. My father's deteriorating health (due to Alzheimer's Disease) and the loss of four additional family members in 2003 made Christmas more of an ordeal than a celebration... and finally, Christmas 2004 - by far the most difficult Christmas due to the fact that my father was no longer home for the holiday, having been placed in an Alzheimer's care facility in September of 2004.

I had a long discussion with my mother a couple of months ago, and we both lamented the loss of the holiday spirit with the difficulties that our family has faced in the past few years. The holidays used to filled with relatives and laughter. Now so many relatives are gone and the remaining relatives have sort of splintered and drifted away from us, dealing with their own issues and pain. We have shrunk from a holiday family gathering of 20 to a holiday family gathering of five: me, my mother, my brother, my niece, and Max (yes, I'm counting the cat because he's as much family as anyone else is).

We need to make the effort for family bonding during the holiday season this year, even though it's going to be hard. Those family members are still gone, and it will be the second Christmas without my father.

Today is the first day in holiday family bonding. We have designated it as "Christmas Tree and House Decorating Day". Scott and Tasha will be over shortly. There is a jumble of Christmas boxes in the middle of the living room. There is a new pre-lit Christmas tree in a box waiting to be liberated (but currently Max thinks said box is his new couch). The whole house smells like beef stew, cornbread, and apple cider.

And I can feel the threads of pre-Christmas excitement starting to stir in my chest. It feels good. I don't care that it's not even Thanksgiving yet and we're putting up a tree. Maybe this will help us feel better about Thanksgiving, too (another holiday that's rough for us).

I haven't felt any sort of excitement or anticipation about the Christmas season in four years. It's nice to know that those feelings are still there. There were probably always there, just long dormant due to stress, grieving, and exhaustion.

No stress this year. No grieving. No exhaustion. Just me and my family, celebrating what we have and not dwelling on what we don't have.

I can live with that.
 
 
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
 
 
 
Knitressknitress on November 20th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC)
Every year since my dad died (a lot of years now), I listen to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and think that's what it's all about. It doesn't have to be big or huge or perfect, but it comes and it's good.
ßscintillated on November 20th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
First of all, I'm so sorry for all of your losses. =(

I know what you mean, though. I just equate the holidays as being a horrible time of year, because that was when I first found out that Daddy was dying, and while it should be about family, my family really doesn't want anything to do with me, plus there's the damn "buying gifts" for everyone deal, which is a slap in the face to us poor people. There really hasn't been a good Christmas in this house since Daddy died in '95. It's going to be a rough one this year too, but Mum, Kwei, and I will get through it.
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wookiee99wookiee99 on November 20th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC)
I know and understand how painful the holidays can be.

Hang in there. :::big hugs:::
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The Roving Weaver of Sheeptopialala412 on November 21st, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
I hope they go well for you this year. I know how hard it is to get that holiday feeling back - the first few years after Ian and Grandma died, it seemed like there wasn't any reason to celebrate, and more people kept slipping away. Jessica was the only bright spot at the holidays for so long... It definitely takes a while, and an effort, to get that feeling back. So I definitely hope you have happy holidays this year!!