Friday, November 24, 2006

Thus begins the holiday angst...

Warning: If you are one of those "let's shop til we drop the day after Thanksgiving, then go home and decorate the entire house for Christmas" types, you may not want to read this....but I gotta get it out.

I admit it, I HATE the holiday season. From Thanksgiving until the New Year I am stressed, in a horrible mood and filled with guilt. The pressure to smile and sing christmas carols and shop for everyone, and their cousin, I could really do without. This goes back to my childhood I suspect. My parents divorced when I was 8 so I was ferried around to see all the relatives, a little time with dad, a little time with mom, not enough time with either, oh yeah, don't forget about all the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and other extended family we only see twice a year. The guilt I felt having to tell my dad goodbye on Christmas eve, knowing he would spend christmas morning without his kids. I spent a lot of time pretending to smile and be happy all the while wondering what the other parent was doing without me. Never really embracing the true holiday spirit.

Now I am grown, and have a family of my own, I still feel the crushing pressure to see everyone, but only for an hour, cause we have other places to be. I hate that christmas is a big gimmie gimmie holiday- a contest to see who can go the deepest in debt. I resent the fact that I can't just stay home with my little ones and drink hot chocolate by the fire. I resent the fact that I still feel the need to do everything everyone expects, all the while ignoring my own needs and wishes.

Now that I am older, and share custody of my daughter with her dad, I realize how miserable my own dad must have been christmas after christmas away from his babies. But he never complained, he never let us know how much he missed us, never let on how sad he was, how lonely. It has only been since I have had my own babies that my step-mom told me how depressed he would be during the holidays. How he really missed me and my brother. To this day he is distant, only lives 15 minutes away, but we never see eachother. I don't know what to do. I have no idea how to mend our relationship. I did not even talk to him or see him yesterday. Part of me just wants to let it go, but most of me can't. I love him despite it all. Last year, right around Christmas, he and my step-mom seperated and it kills me to think how lonely he must be. But still he does not call. I would love for him to come over on Christmas morning and have breakfast, watch the kiddos open presents, but then reality sets in. More than likely, one of my kiddos will be with her dad and his family, and her absence will be a blaring reminder of christmas past.

Since I left her dad, I have always let the Girl Wonder decide where she wants to go for the holidays. I have told her to spend time with who she wants and not feel guilty about her decision. I refuse to let extended family lay a guilt trip on her when she is not where they want her to be. She usually spends more of the holidays with her dad, he is still single and The Girl Wonder knows he needs her, she knows how lonely the holidays can be and she does all she can to fill his with joy. For this I am truly proud. I want to protect her from the guilt, the back and forth, the too-many-holiday-feasts-in-one-day that I had to endure. I want to let her enjoy the season that is meant to be filled with joy.

I feel like the grinch, and then feel guilty. My kids deserve a happy momma during the holidays... they love the decorations, the songs, presents, all the family and yummy deserts. I wish I could just see christmas through their eyes, and feel the joy they feel, instead of the dread and disgust with it all. It seems like such hypocracy- celebrating a holiday for a religion I do not even believe in. Simply because it is a tradition. I realize I am very fortunate to have such a large and loving extended family, fortunate to have so much to eat, so much of everything. I appreciate it, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it is just too much for me. Too much noise, so many expectations and I constantly feel like I am failing miserably. I don't get joy from shopping for things that are expected. Last year, I asked my family to donate to a charity instead of shopping for one did. How can I ask for what I really want?- a quiet day at home, no hustle, no bustle, no one expecting me to be cheery and eat yet another holiday feast. I can't ask for that, it would be too selfish, and I realize that, so I just put on my fake holiday cheer, and pour myself another martini. Bah humbug.


Yarn It said...

Well, first off, I think you are handling the holiday situation with Girl Wonder in the best way. She will always love and appreciate you for that. As for your dad, he may not know how to reach out. That can be hard. If you reach out to him it may change his Christmas this year for the better. Something to think about, even though it is hard.

I know the holidays are a hard time for so many people. The expectations are high and people have this fantasy about how the holidays should be. Reality can be much different. Just make sure to take some time for yourself - even if that does mean being selfish. And pour an extra martini for me because I will spending the holidays with people who don't believe in that! Can make for a pretty "dry" Christmas in more ways than one!

Marcia said...

I share your pain.

I will admit that it has gotten a little better over the years. It really has helped with the boy of divorce being all grown now too. So there has been less impact from guilt related stress.

Being honest with myself and my limitations and full recognition of my true responsibilities to family at this time also helps me emotionally, even though the workload remains the same. Admitting that it's a wall of fire I must run through kind of takes out the sting. I also have recognized that I have a choice in how I respond to the crap, and that has helped too, somehow.

For what it's worth.

del said...

Wow. All I can say, Amanda, is that if your dad won't take the first step, then you be the bigger one & do it. Before it's too late because we never know when we'll never see family again.

I really hope you can find some joy this season, even if you don't celebrate or believe in it, just so you can feel happy. The best to you!

TheSteph said...

You're so awesome at making beautiful things, why don't you just MAKE everyone a LITTLE something, and call it a day?

Martinis and yarn. Who could ask for anything more?, besides a family who loves you?

Set the guilt aside. It will only age you. Guilt and paranoia are scary emotions, yet the collective "we" always let them control "us".

Even though I don't come from a divorced family, I feel your pain. I fear divorce because I see what it has done to my Mister's entire way of thinking about family. This is why I'm not married and don't have kids, even though I've been with the man I love for over 13 years. See? It's the paranoia thing creeping back in.

I'm rambling (sorry). Just do what you think is right. No one can take that away or judge you for it.

...sounds like you're already doing that...