Spirits of the Season

I thought I hated Christmas.

For the past few years, I haven't fully celebrated the holiday. No tree, no decorations, no blinky lights. I usually volunteer to work, so the only thing that marks the special day is a pumpkin pie next to the coffee machine.

My only real Christmas has traditionally been with my immediate family. I exchange presents with them on the weekend before or the weekend after the holiday. The actual day doesn't matter so much anymore now that my mother has Alzheimer's Disease.

Honestly, I think I've purposely been denying myself of the celebration for several years. I have all these horrible feelings that weigh on me, thick and heavy as a fruitcake.

I'm angry I wasted so many holidays I should have cherished with my mother. I'm upset that I didn't appreciate Christmas more while we were all together. I'm sad that sometimes I feel so empty inside, like the spirit of Christmas has just skipped over me.

I'm so full of hurt and guilt about all the times I rolled my eyes or sighed or snapped at my mom about trimming the tree, wrapping the presents, going to church. I try to forget all the times I pouted because I didn't get enough presents or the right gifts or everything exactly the way I wanted it.

I took magical things about Christmas away from my mother -- all because I thought it was stupid, fake, annoying. And all along I was the one who was stupid, fake and annoying.

I wasn't a very good child. And every once in a while, I wonder if there is a God or a Santa or some other higher power who put me on a shitlist because of it. Maybe the people I love are jinxed because my actions have placed me on some heavenly naughty list.

So this year, I really shouldn't be feeling the spirit of Christmas. I'm really far away from home for my first time ever. I'm still shoved full of sadness and pain about the years of Christmas past. And I live in the desert, for God's sake, where the only thing white about Christmas is the sand.

But, for whatever strange reason, I feel it this year stronger than ever.

Here there are little white lights wound around the cacti, angels perched on top of the little retro condos, little dogs in Santa suits. As cheezy as it sounds, it really warms my heart.

I feel like it takes more courage to celebrate Christmas here. The spirit has to be ten times as strong to survive in the dry, desert heat. It has to be nurtured to grow. And it does.

What I like most about this Christmas is that I'm in a completely new environment, surrounded by new people, where I'm free to create some new traditions for my makeshift family of friends.

I have two little decorated Christmas trees in my condo now. I festooned the palms and cacti outside with lights and baubles. I've planned a rich and nourishing holiday meal for some of the friends I love dearly. I've sent some really thoughtful gifts to the people who mean the most in my life. And on Christmas morning, Jason and I will be delivering flowers to patients in an area hospital and feeding people who would otherwise be alone for the holiday.

This Christmas is all about letting go of the past, feeling joy in the present, fostering hope for the future.

(This is an entry for Tidings of Danger and Mayhem.)
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By Blogger Sarah, at 10:21 PM  

It sounds stupid, I know, but I do believe that you (all of us) have a place in the Universe and lessons to learn, so many of them painful (whenever were lessons easy?) However, I know the Universe loves us because we are a part of it all. Forgive yourself. You were not, and are not, omniscient and prescient. You can only take responsibility for what you did and did not do and move on.    

By Blogger rasta, at 10:38 AM  

You and J may be far away from us Maggie but your closer this year to me than you ever have been. I hope that you and J rejoice in your new environment and enjoy the holidays with newfound joy. I hope you guys have the BEST Christmas EVER!    

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