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The first Christmas since

Last Christmas was probably one of the best that I’ve had in a long time. It was filled with family and friends and presents and food and happiness. We hosted dinner at our house for 30 people and there was no strife, no political arguments, no children crying, no hurt feelings. To an observer, it was a snapshot of a perfect Christmas. My home was overflowing with holiday cheer and for that one day, so was I.

Under the surface, it wasn’t so perfect. I was unhappy and knew that I would be making a difficult decision soon. Some of the friends who attended had their own rocky struggles going on internally as well. But for that one day, it felt to me like we put it all away and just relaxed. Just pretended that there was no tomorrow and no yesterday, and today was a moment that could last as long as we participated in it.

This year has been one of transition and change and hope and growth and happiness and sadness. I’ve spent most of the year completely numb. The only times I’ve really felt anything have been when acting out of character, doing things against my nature, and pushing the boundaries of my friends, testing their ability to put up with me and forgive me. (And can I say that almost all of my friends have really been amazing. My appreciation knows no bounds.) I know that I’m not done, either. That numbness is still there, and there are fears and obstacles I have to overcome before I can let myself feel anything genuine again.

As I sit in my hotel room, 500 yards away from where the rest of my family shares a two-bedroom condo, I count down the time until I return home to my empty house, with no expectations except those I inflict upon myself, no need to fake emotions that I’m incapable of feeling, and no guilt over this desire to be completely alone. This year, Christmas wasn’t Christmas. It was Saturday. And I’m okay with that.

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35 Replies to “The first Christmas since”

  1. lceel

    When you abstract all the reasons – when you get past all the recriminations and self flagellation – what it comes down to is this: The process is painful. The experience is unpleasant. And it takes time to reassemble an ordered existence that feels like it makes any sense. All of the above is probably the one and last thing that will be shared by all concerned in the dissolution of the relationship. I hope you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Adam. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas next year will be more than just a day in the week. I truly hope so.

  2. ML

    It was my first since, too. I sympathize completely!! It seems I’m far less fortunate in the friend department, but ever so much more so to have young children who made it Christmas for me. The 5 year old even said this was the best Christmas ever (and I could forget for a minute that she thinks Kraft mac & cheese is the best dinner ever). Heading cautiously into the week that contains my “first” New Year’s Eve. . .I will think of you when the hour strikes – sending all the best wishes for strength and patience, healing and happiness. Thank you for sharing – your humor and pain.

  3. LibraryGirl62

    It must be in the air…I felt the same way this year…and I have no real reason. It was just different for some reason. Take care and let’s own New Year’s Eve instead !

  4. Grant

    So, you’re all alone and your house is empty and xmas was just a Saturday. Welcome to my world, you giant ball of wuss. I think of the holidays as the time when everything shuts down and can’t function properly in the US, but the international business community still expects us to provide. But at least traffic is light and there is better parking at the office.

  5. B.E. Earl

    We had a slightly rough one too this year. With Gia being away from her family at Christmas for the first time, and a bunch of mine were away too. But at least she is spending the New Year with her sister. Sucks for me (work is keeping me home), but I feel good for her knowing how much she misses them.

    Sorry yours wasn’t so hot. Next year, right?

  6. Megan

    What’s important right now is that you are OK with it. It’s no small thing that you did, and the fact that you are not skipping along like nothing major happened attests to your humanity.

    Everything happens for a reason. The future lies ahead, and I believe that next Christmas you will be stronger, lighter and happier after having discovered what that reason is.

    Love you.

  7. Zoeyjane

    Every Christmas for me has been half of that – feeling like it was just a Saturday, I mean – but I was surrounded by people to expected The. Big. Show. And it made me crazy and anxious and resentful. Especially when I got called out for it once, by my ex mother-in-law. This year, I chose minimal. I didn’t put on any show. I didn’t cook a giant dinner for a bunch of people who expected a big dinner because it was International Big Dinner Day, and I didn’t go crazy, trying to give everyone a perfect Christmas.

    I played games with my kid and her dad – which I’ve never been able to do, while running around, crazy-like. We opened presents and the paper was left on the floor for longer than two minutes. I took a nap. I cooked dinner for the three of us.

    It was the most peaceful and perfect Christmas I could have ever wanted. I hope yours, next year, when it’s not the first one since is exactly what you want, Adam.

    2011. It’s just around the bend and it’s going to be More than 2010 was, you know?

  8. Kirsty

    This has been my first Christmas since, too, and it’s certainly been a strange affair. I’ve spent waaaaay too much time alone, drinking dessert wine and feeling sorry for myself. I know I should make more of an effort, get out, do stuff, but it’s soooo hard to find the energy and motivation… The girls have had fun and been spoiled as usual (plus my elder daughter turns 9 in just a few hours, meaning more gifts), but they’ve also been difficult, at least with me, often preferring to be with their dad than with me and that hurts more than I can bear. I’m grouchy (which might explain the previous sentence) and miserable and very, very lonely; all my closest friends are either in another country or away, staying with family. I can’t say I’ll be sad to see the back of this holiday season… A crappy end to a crappy year… (That said, I WILL be with a couple of very nice, but very staid friends on 31/12, so whilst it certainly won’t be wild, at least I won’t be alone).
    To cap it all, my ex gave me a totally unexpected gift (I gave him a secondhand Hemingway book, costing all of 4 Euros) – a weekend of spa treatments. I’m utterly confused – this was meant to be my 40th birthday present (in 2009) but never actually happened because we were so broke. Now, with him horribly broke and me barely breaking even, plus him considering me the Devil’s spawn for much of the year, he gives me this… he says he didn’t actually “buy” it, it was “an opportunity”, but still. I’m puzzled, and not sure how to react. Plus, it’s for 2 people and what the hell am I meant to do about that? Oh, so complicated.
    BUT – Adam – you’ve made me smile and laugh and actually cry laughing more than anyone else this year, and I’m glad you’re starting to find peace in your new life. I wish you all the very best for 2011 and hope, assuming I pluck up the courage to go, to meet you in person in San Diego at BlogHer this summer!
    Happy New Year!

  9. Faiqa

    Okay, I’ve typed and retyped this comment, struggling to find words that might make you feel “better.” But, you know what? You don’t have to feel better… just feel what you’re feeling. Numbness, sadness, alone… whatever… at least, it’s the truth, you know? At least you’re not living a lie and you’re being true to yourself. I’m so proud to have a friend like that, a friend like you.

    • Natalie

      @Faiqa, Your comment is perfect, it’s exactly what I wanted to write.

      There is nothing worse than false platitudes or immediate “now you know what it feels like to be me” comments…because this post is not about anyone BUT you!

      I hope 2011 brings you, Adam, and you, Faiqa, great things, great friends and great times. xox

  10. Mennat Allah

    I’ve been reading your stuff for about a month now and this is my first post here, so just in case you’re wondering my name means “a gift from God”. Yeah, I’m that good!;)

    I just created a blog, and stumbled upon yours while surfing and let me just say that your post is the first thing I do every morning. When you’re feeling terrible, know for a fact that your ramblings are that important, so I bet that the ppl who know you in person are blessed by your presence.

    I’m starting to think that 2010 was stinking all around; we’re all dwelling in the sadness, frustration and the loneliness but I’ve been tracking your progress, reading other posts along with new ones, and the way you’re carrying yourself is just inspirational so Chapeau!

    I wish I was that optimistic, but we can all only hope for a less ruthless, maybe nice 2011; may it bring you peace and happiness and more good times than bad.

    Happy new year Adam:)

  11. Lisa

    I think big changes have an adjustment period that has to include a certain level of numbness so you can settle in and get the feel of your new normal. You’re doing some hard emotional work lately so feeling detached from the holidays and all the associated memories and expectations is understandable. It’s pretty brave of you to just let yourself feel those things instead of covering them up with pretty wrapping and false cheer. The numbness will pass eventually. XOXO

  12. Lisa

    I think big changes have an adjustment period that has to include a certain level of numbness so you can settle in and get the feel of your new normal. You’re doing some hard emotional work lately so feeling detached from the holidays and all the associated memories and expectations is understandable. It’s pretty brave of you to just let yourself feel those things instead of covering them up with pretty wrapping and false cheer. The numbness will pass eventually. XOXO

  13. Loukia

    I hope you had a nice Saturday/weekend/Christmas. The good thing is, you didn’t break a leg skiing down a black diamond hill, right? 😉 I hope 2010 is still, despite everything, filled with happy and good memories for you! xo

  14. Emily

    Hi, I’ve never commented but I decided to send you my address so you could send me a Christmas card. I thought you would look at my name and say “who the hell is this?” and leave it at that. But I got your card in the mail the other day and it really made me feel special. (awwwww) So basically, thanks, because even if you didn’t feel Christmasy, you’ve spread some holiday cheer and gave me a good giggle.

  15. J

    It’s ok to feel not ok!

    No yesterday and no tomorrow… well even a regular Saturday is better when we participate in it- even if it is just to feel the sadness

    Happy New Year!

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