Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas past, present, and future

It's the Christmas season.
It never fails, no matter what, to be my absolute most favorite time of the year.
I don't know when it all started, but over the years I've morphed into the BIGGEST Christmas crazy person I know.
Christmas has always been a favorite of mine...but as I get older, it becomes more and more for me.
Obviously, as a child the presents were a major element for me.
But even then, it was always more. It was about believing in something, about bringing family together, about the magic of Christmas.

I remember one year I think it was '92 or '93, I was being greedy and wanted to know what I was getting. I went under the tree and carefully unwrapped all the presents with my name on them, peaked to see what I was getting, and then ever so carefully wrapped them back neatly. That was by far, one of the most disappointing Christmases. There was no element of surprise, there was no wonder or anticipation. I knew the things I wanted that I already had, and the things I didn't even like.. now I had to open them and pretend I didn't totally hate them. That was the last year I ever peaked at anything and from then on I've made it a point to stay in the dark about any gifts, even when people try to tell me or give me hints. 
I'm actually surprised none of my 5 older siblings ever tried to burst my bubble about Santa.
I suppose even if they had tried, I wouldn't have allowed it any way. I believed for a long, long time. Right up until that moment in '95 where I came down the stairs Christmas morning and saw my dad filling our stockings.I remember rushing back up stairs and hiding in bed with my eyes shut tight, trying to erase the horror of what I'd just witnessed. I was crushed. The magic was gone! You'd think that would have ruined Christmas for me for years.
Then there was the first Christmas after my parents divorced. The 1st year of many "double Christmases" to come. Anyone coming from a divorced family knows the politics involved, the negotiating, the bribes, the guilt, the time management, the double gifting, the fighting and bickering. It was a lot for a 13 year old to handle. It put a damper on what Christmas had always been for me, I felt the tug-of-war that I'd feel for...well for the rest of my life. I still deal with this tug-of-war, although as an adult it's slightly easier to manage. That Christmas was the first time we'd changed our "traditions". For 13 years of my life we'd celebrated the same way, and suddenly it was all changing. It felt like something had been stolen from me.
If only then I'd know the changes of Christmas traditions would continue throughout the years.
There was the 1st Christmas after my cousin who'd been my best friend growing up and my partner in crime for everything had converted to a religion that did not celebrate holidays. So many of my holiday traditions involved specifically her. I mourned the loss of her for many Christmases to come and still find I miss her most near Christmas time. I can still see her, but these visits no longer include so many of the memories we made year after year.
In '07, it was the first year after the horrible events that lead up to my family dividing in two. For my entire life, we'd always went to my Grandparents house on Christmas Eve. Even after their passings, we still went to the same house, and celebrated with our huge, loud, fun family. We never broke tradition, ever. That is, until a select few of us upset the herd, we spoke out against another family member and aided in him being put in prison for over a decade. This marked the first Christmas we were not welcome at  my grandparents house and were not allowed to participate in the traditions we'd spent our whole lives taking part in. That marked the first year of attempting to build new traditions. It's been a rough adjustment for all of us. Each year is a bit different, still trying to figure out what the new traditions entail. My dad has done his best to make it special for us all, despite the large elephant in the room that I often feel responsible for.
In '10, I thought I'd be coming home for the holidays to see my family and the man who'd promised to marry me. Just before Thanksgiving that year, he gave me the news that he had other plans. He'd broken up with me and a few weeks before Christmas, I'd learn he had gotten back together with his ex. This was heartbreaking and lead to the most difficult holiday season I'd faced yet. He'd robbed me of the magic, my ability to believe it something bigger, and that Christmas I merely went through the motions of the holidays, but wasn't present at all. I'd lost all hope for everything and Christmas was no exception.

Despite all the heartbreak and disappointment of Christmases past, there were so many other years where my memories will forever live in my heart. I don't think I could ever turn my back in Christmas, no matter how close I came in the past. The toughest lesson to learn in life is that change is inevitable, and traditions will be broken. This allows for new traditions, new additions, and new memories to be made and Christmas is no exception here either.

This Christmas won't be like others, but in some ways it will be exactly the same. I won't be able to spend it with everyone I'd like to, it won't go as planned, but I am able to spend it with some wonderful people, I do have a very special man who survived the holidays with my family last year and actually wants to return again. I also get to be a part of some lovely little kiddos Christmas memories, that they can look back at when they're my age and remember as fondly as I do mine.
The years I was so wrapped up in what Christmas should be or how it used to be or who should have been there I wasn't being fair to all those that were there, and continue to be there. I wasn't being fair to my niece and nephews whose Christmas memories I am a part of. My new years resolution this year was the focus on what I can do instead of worrying about what I can't do..and again, Christmas isn't an exception here. I can't change the past, I can't control the future but I CAN enjoy the holidays with my family and do my best to make it memorable for us all.
 Although it's been said, many times, many ways... Merry Christmas to you :)

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