The last real Christmas I had was in 2009. A month prior, I had told Amy that I was unhappy in our marriage and had been going to therapy in secret to figure out what I wanted and needed in life. She had given me space to figure that out, and the only path I was following led directly to divorce. It was a tough time.
Christmas Day, though, was a different story. We had a house full of people. Both of our families were there, along with friends like James, Britt and Faiqa and their entire families. For that one day, our home was filled with the warmth and love and holiday spirit of over 30 people, and it was truly one of the best Christmases that I can remember.
Granted, six days later, I told Amy that I couldn’t continue, and twenty-six days after that, I moved out for good, but that Christmas was damn near perfect. Last year, I flew to Utah to meet my parents and siblings for a weekend that happened to include December 25th. It wasn’t Christmas, not really, and I was okay with that.
This year has flown by, and there have been ups and downs, but generally speaking, I’ve had a good year. As Christmas has gotten closer, though, I’ve found myself losing interest in participating in tradition and holiday festivities. My Christmas lights are still hanging from the eaves of my roof since last year, but I haven’t even turned them on once. I don’t have a tree, and my shopping list had one gift on it, which I already purchased.
My family is doing a Christmas brunch next Sunday morning, which I will attend, but all I can think about is what time I’ll be able to leave. I don’t want to be there, and I just don’t want to take part in Christmas.
This isn’t depression. This is me figuring out what Christmas is for me. From 1998 until 2009, Christmas was about Amy and my friends. I take great pride in being an excellent gift giver, and there is little that I enjoy more than giving gifts to the people I love. I don’t generally like receiving gifts, though, as I’m impossible to shop for. I buy what I want when I want it, and I have very particular tastes. Since the divorce, my ability to give gifts has been diminished by my need to be more financially cautious (past Christmases ended up being $4,000-$5,000 affairs), and receiving gifts generally makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. There are always exceptions, of course, but it’s rare. Even people I called my best friends, who knew me almost better than I knew myself, found it difficult to buy me a gift.
In the end, though, I don’t know how to feel or what to do with this Christmas season. This morning, I plan on calling my mother to ask her to please refrain from wrapping any gifts for me and to please return anything she’s already purchased. I’ll enjoy the day much more if I don’t have to worry about that, I think. I don’t know, but that feels right.
I think I’m just ready for 2012.