I know what you're thinking - isn't that the title of a Christmas song? Why is she writing a Christmas blog in February? Really? But stick with me people...there's a point. Christmas is supposed to be the most magical time of the year. But for me, well, it's just not. And for as long as I can remember, it hasn't been. That must sound so cold seeing as I have three of the most precious little boys who just burst with joy the entire month of December, but it's just how it is. Oh, how I hate not being able to exude the same amout of joy as them. Don't get me wrong, my house is decorated to the hilt with all of the trimmings and lights galore, Christmas music is blasting, but it's not felt deep in my heart. My mood and demeanor are very dark during the holidays and it causes strife and conflict within my marriage, to the point where, one year, my husband and I almost called it quits.
Growing up, my childhood home was just beautiful during the holidays. My mom put so much time and effort into making our home magical for us, but I saw the sadness in her eyes every year when she decorated alone. You see, she yearned for the family tradition of decorating together as a family the weekend after Thanksgiving. Heck, I think she would've taken any weekend, but my father was too busy with his life and hobbies that my mom was left to try to create a winter wonderland all by herself. She envisioned us singing carols and cutting up as a family, but it sadly never happend. One of the things that brought her great pride, though, was our formal Christmas tree. Every ornament was just right. Every cascading ribbon fell perfectly. It was absolute perfection glowing in the bay window (probably because my brother and I didn't help). I mean, young children and perfection don't go hand in hand. And what I wanted, actually needed, was for my mom to have that perfect tree because it made her smile. It brought her joy during a time where she felt like second fiddle to silly hobbies.
It's the reason that I don't decorate our Christmas tree with my children. Instead, our family tradition is to have a "dude night" where the boys decorate the tree with their daddy and I just sit back and watch. Instead of having that perfect tree, we have a scraggly artifical tree that is covered top to bottom with ornaments that my children have made or that we have collected on our travels. I find joy in decorating our home because we do it as a family but I just can't bring myself to help decorate the tree. It brings me back to a time where my mom pretended to be so joyful, but I recognized the disappointment in her eyes. So I leave the tree trimming to the guys and play the role of smiling mommy. Unfortunately, once the decorating is done, a dark cloud hovers over me, making me, and my husband, absolutely miserable until the decorations go back up in the attic.
I know, I know...it sounds absolutely ridiculous to fall into a funk over a tree and missed traditions, but there's more. That's just the tip of the "Christmas Sucks" iceberg and the conflict it causes between my husband and me. Sadly, these Christmas scars run deep. You see, Christmas was also when my beloved Grandma (a Christmas baby) passed away a mere week after my dad decided to leave our family. Three days before Christmas, he decided that there were more exciting options out there waiting for him. To this day, I believe that he left right before Christmas because he knew how much pain it would cause. It wasn't a secret that my Grandma would soon be gone, and the double whammy was a complete devastation to our family. He literally stole the joy of Christmas from me. It's a hurt that runs deep and I am finding forgiving him to be a real struggle. It's the reason Christmas brings me no joy.
It's been 20 years since I, in essence, lost both my dad and my grandma and it still affects me greatly. But this past year my husband and I had a breakthrough, courtesy of my mom. While we were in the kitchen on Christmas day, he told my mom that I get depressed and it's hard to be around me during Christmas. My mom looked up from her coffee and simply said, "Stephen, her dad left three days before Christmas and her Grandma died a week later. What do you expect?" The lightbulb turned on for him in that moment and a look of understanding crossed his face. I had to turn away as the tears streamed down my face because my mom finally spoke the truth - a truth that I had kept inside for the past 15 Christmases that I spent with my husband. I can't explain why I never told him. It really was quite simple to do, but I guess I felt like he would think it's silly to hang onto a hurt for so long, so I kept it inside.
I didn't reveal the biggest hurt of my life to the man that I trust most in the world and our marriage suffered for it. I picked fights, overspent on presents, and made him completely miserable because I wanted someone to hurt as badly as I did. And, God bless him, he took the hurt head on. He kept a calm head when one fight got so bad that I told him that I didn't want to be with him anymore. I gave him an out to escape Crazy Christmas Lady but he pressed me to talk, he showed me how much he loved me, and told me that you just don't walk away when things get tough. He put up with my moods because I believe that he wanted to see me come through the other end of the darkness, and this year I finally poked my head out into the sunlight. It was hard, the light was bright but he was there waiting for me on the other side of it all. My hope for future Christmases is that instead of reliving the hurt of Christmas Past, that I'll truly relish the moments of Christmas Present. And I'm ever so lucky to have such a patient man by my side to relish those moments with.
Brooke is warrior mama to three rambunctious boys, wife to an honest, hardworking man, daughter to one of the greatest humans our great God ever created, and friend to anyone who talks to her. She's has been dubbed "the most inappropriate friend." She lives for a good belly laugh and to bring laughter to others - laughter feeds her soul. She loves the outdoors (not like hiking or rock climbing - she's not that cool - more like standing in the sunshine listening to nature!) and she finds God in the simple things.