It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or not. It should be. I get that. But for me, I just can’t wait for it to be over. There are a million reasons to celebrate, but I’m crying more than ever. I’ve had more panic attacks in the last two weeks than I have all year. I’m questioning whether my anti-depressants are doing anything at all. It’s dreadful. And on top of that, I feel terribly guilty for feeling this way because for the love of God, it’s Christmas!
Truth is, Christmas kind of hurts. It reminds me of loss. I think about my dad constantly. He’s no longer with us and the holidays reminds me of that too much. My childhood Christmas’s were pure magic. I can see my dad now, sitting in that ridiculous orange recliner. Every year it was the same. He was in his long john’s, sipping on his coffee. His hair was always wild, like a crazed Jack Nicholson. And he watched me, and my brother open our presents with the biggest smile on his face. Pure joy was just radiating from him and my mom. Later, we would run out into the yard in our bare feet, hurdling through the massive amounts of snow, desperate to be the first one to reach the big tree in the front yard, laughing hysterically.
The nostalgia is over whelming. I’m smiling at the memories and at the same time, my heart is breaking. Growing up, this time of year was the best. We chopped down our Christmas trees and spent hours decorating. The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac or Jethro Tull could always be heard in the background. When Aqualung would play, it was next level. That guitar solo, volume cranked as high as it could go, we went nuts. I remember one year the snow was so high, while dad was hanging the lights on the house, my brother and I climbed on top of our old brown truck and managed to get on to the roof of our house. We then proceeded to jump off the house into the snow banks over and over until the mild hypothermia set in. It was awesome.
This season also reminds me of other losses, like failed relationships. As a kid growing up, I was determined to grow up to be exactly like my mom and marry someone exactly like my dad. We would spend every Christmas spoiling our kids and our home would be overflowing with love. The family tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve would carry on. I would create the same magic I was lucky enough to have when I was young. But that was not to be. Not that I didn’t try, but regardless, I failed. A lot.
When my boys were little, I did my best to make Christmas special and meaningful and there were a few years where I feel like I almost nailed it. But they’re older now and the thought of Santa sneaking in at night is long gone. Still, it was easier back then to be happy. Even though I was missing my dad terribly, I could put on the game face for my kids. And making them happy, made me happy. There was still that excitement in the air. I had all the energy I needed to do the Christmas baking, attend all the Christmas concerts, make wreaths, go to church, do all the shopping and wrapping. And I loved every bit of it! This year, I literally carried my already decorated, fake ass tree up the stairs and plopped it into my living room.
And yes, I’m fully aware that I’m missing the whole point of Christmas. Trust me, that’s another whole level of guilt. Sometimes I wonder what happened to me and then I remember, LIFE happened. Feeling terrible about my feelings is not going to help my feelings. Can I get an Amen?
So, to be completely honest, right now, I’m just gonna say it…Christmas can suck it. I’m sorry baby Jesus, but you made me this way. I feel like I’m a ticking time bomb filled with anxiety. The worries of parenthood, endless to-do lists, basically all the worlds problems are magnified. I’m losing my shit, man. Everything is just too heavy.
Come Christmas morning, I will feel the loss and the emptiness in my heart. I will grieve the lost magic. I will miss people. I will call my son that couldn’t make it home this year. And I will hug my 12 year old and watch him tear into his presents. And then I’ll hug him again because I know that in the blink of an eye, everything can change. And before I know it, he will be out of the house too. I’ll cry if I need to. Maybe have a panic attack or two. But I’ll get through it. I always do.