Confessions, continued (with photos)
Well, I promised you all who have kindly shared your holiday joys and woes that I would share mine. Sadly, the odds lean toward people feeling obligated to unpleasant situations, with the occasional joyous person thrown in (hooray for you folks!), and a few who just take the holidays in stride.
For me, the holidays are a mixture of joy and dread. I'm a child of divorce, and now an adult of divorce and I envy those who can go to one, or even two places for their holidays--in their own family, that is.
My parents got together when they were teenagers. They stayed together as long as they could--about 10 years. They split when I was two.
Christmases in my childhood were magically able to erase some of the hard realities of my life: that my parents were no longer married never bothered me--that my mother was still in the grips of a serious addiction, did. That my father had his own nefarious way of getting by that didn't involve a 9 to 5 job, did. That I pinged back and forth between them on a weekly basis, having to change my routine and my comforts every week of my life, did. That there was often a new man or woman in their lives, did. But for one day a year, the seam healed, the dramas ceased, and there were presents, and my grandmother flew out from New York, and my parents even came to the same house--as they were always friendly to one another--and celebrated what I now just think of as "holiday togetherness," since Christmas has always been about family, not Christ, in my houses.
After my Dad remarried and my brother and sister were born Christmas got complicated. It became my holiday with my mom and her husband--because now there was this other family that my Dad needed tending to.
I wasn't the child of the family anymore. With two little children Christmas turned into something else--an event thrown together after two exhausted parents managed to find time to put up a doggy little tree and wrap some presents. Christmas wasn't mine anymore and I wasn't so little and I remember feeling as though a door had been left open, letting in a gust of cold air. This is when I began to feel outside.
I guess this is what children normally go through when they have a sibling born who is 2 or 4 or even 6 years apart, but it happened to me at quite a late age. I was 14.5 when my brother was born, nearly 17 when my sister was.
For me, Christmas at my dad's has since been a strange affair. Less magic, more obligation. But at least we got together. As my siblings got older, it got better because they were people I came to know and feel close to.
Then, three years ago, my father and my stepmother split.
And not in an easy way. And yet there I was, a married adult with my own life. This wouldn't affect me, right? But it has. It does. There are now more family lines, more allegiances and alliances and people's feelings to consider, and households...
Yet this year, getting together just reminds me how unglued this family is, how angry and hurt I am that I got cast out so many years ago (yes, there's some teenage drama still left in that feeling bag) how unhealed so many things are. No matter how hard I try to let everyone live their own life, without being too judgmental, I react. I lose myself.
Fortunately for me, I chose a husband who has an uncanny way of providing me with all the things I feel I didn't "get" and who knows how to help me through this unpleasant time. He, who grew up without Christmas, has learned to love it for me and he generally does something to make me cry (with joy).
Christmas is a holiday we celebrate, not for me--the adult--but for that little, lonely girl who truly looked forward to the one day a year when she could believe that everything was going to be okay. And if we ever should become parents, I will just be glad that we have created this family, this single place, where it's okay to want to feel special.