When I saw Dr. Mind yesterday we were talking about the upcoming holidays and how the changes in my family dynamics are making them stressful (we will have to celebrations that are completely separate so that people who don't want to mix don't have to). We talked briefly about how hard holidays used to be for me (we used to work for 2 months on getting ready for them) and that this year isn't that bad but it's just hard because things will be different, my mom is struggling and I'm trying to be supportive and the reality is that we have no idea what will happen because of the legal issues that are pending. Things could change from our expectations on Christmas Eve if that is when the grand jury comes back.
Dr. Mind asked me something that nobody had ever asked before and that I hadn't thought about on my own. He asked if there was ever a good holiday when I was growing up. And the answer is no. I remember good parts. I remember moments that were a lot of fun and that were special. I remember some special gifts that were very meaningful to me or that were wonderful surprises. I remember getting old enough to buy my own gifts for people and learning how much fun that is. I even remember that one year I said something to my mom about how my father never got us gifts himself and he gave me a sweater that year, from him. She probably picked it out and just had him put his name on the tag but it still meant a lot. I remember being little and how much fun it was to listen to Santa go around the world on the weather radio. I remember that my grandma was exhausted every year when we were little because she stayed up until the middle of the night wrapping presents. She tied ribbons on in this neat way that I wish I knew how to do. She also tended to hide things and forget about them so we would get Christmas gifts in August. My grandma liked a bargain and once found underwear on a huge sale. She was all excited to find Care Bear prints, a luxury we never got and so we all got Care Bear underwear that year. Imagine my shock when I put my first pair on and discovered it only had one leg! She'd found a 2nds bin, didn't know because of the crowd and didn't check the items she bought. There was a very ugly plastic plant that my grandmother and father passed back and forth for several years, always decorated uniquely. There was the year I was a ballerina for Halloween and after my father made a sarcastic remark about wanting the same outfit my grandmother made him his own ballet costume for Christmas. It was so funny.
There are lots of little memories like that. There also are so many messed up memories.....the grandchildren playing hide and go seek at my grandparents' Christmas afternoon and I couldn't play because my mom didn't want me to be alone with my grandfather, a memory I didn't understand for years until I knew that she'd known he molested me. There were the bizarre gifts my father started coming up with as things got more and more messed up at our house. Once I got a coffee can filled with dirt and rocks. No reason. Another time I got wiper blades for a car that wasn't mine. And the topper was the year I got a toilet base and my sister got the remainder. That toilet was never even installed in the remaining years that I knew my father. For all I know it is still sitting in an unfinished basement in the house owned by other people now.
Christmas after my parents' divorce was just unpleasant. My father had all these demands about time and we ultimately started doing Christmas at my mom's after the midnight church service to have time to enjoy it while meeting his time demands. Later we had Christmas time that we more or less hid from him because nobody wanted to spend a lot of time with him. It was just rough.
Believe it or not I toned down the crazy a lot. I didn't even talk about the annual Thanksgiving forced march or the annual Christmas eve major fight. Or so many other things. Christmas as an adult has been better. Having my nieces makes it much more fun and re-directs everything to that instead of sad old memories. It's still hard in that in Anne's life Christmas has been different every year both as her needs have changed and as life has happened. Three years ago we had to delay Christmas nearly a week because I was in the psych unit. My mom had a hard time with that because she struggles more than anyone else with the lack of tradition. I kind of liked it, to be honest, because it was very low pressure and nobody had to worry about getting to other family or anything. The being in the hospital for Christmas part sucked though. That was a terrible place to be in and I hope I never feel like that again.
I don't know. I'm working on coming up with happy memories. That's good but it is disturbing that I cannot remember one single happy Christmas. The best I can do is remember being little and my cousin and I who were only 4 months apart always had a lot of fun with the excitement and anticipation on Christmas eve. We had Christmas afternoon together at my grandma's and I'm sure we enjoyed that too but I don't actually remember those afternoons or Christmas dinners.
I kind of wish he hadn't asked that. It looked like something that just occurred to him and it's something to think about but it is so sad. So very, very sad.