Friday, December 05, 2008

Lonely Christmas

I love Christmas but I still find it difficult to look forward to it.

Every year I think it would be more meaningful if only I had a child or two to teach about our Savior's birth - slowly revealing the wonder of the great gift as the kids get older - watching the wonder in their faces as they experience the magic of Christmas. The wonder of new fallen snow. The beautiful grace of wishes granted, either by Christ or by Santa or by a generous stranger. Oh how I long for a Christmas like that.

Instead, Christmas is little more than a deadline for me. And I hate that.
I hate that I can't experience the joy, peace and wonder of Christmas because I'm stuck in a car by myself (trapped with my own thoughts) driving 10 hours to get 'home'... and then another 10 hours to get back to MY home before I have to be back at work.

People with families have absolutely no idea how lonely it is.

Last night I was checking out a few purchases at L!nens&Th!ngs. (stuff for myself of course -I've barely started Christmas shopping!)
The friendly sales clerk asked if I was ready for Christmas.
Oh heavens no, I joked.

"I am." she said, "I love Christmas, I can't wait."
Oh. I thought you meant am I done putting up the tree and wrapping gifts. That's a big fat no!

We bantered back and forth and somehow it fell out of my mouth.

"When you're the only one in your family without kids, Christmas is just a deadline."

The woman behind me in line nodded in agreement. She knew just what I was talking about.

I continued, "You rush around to get gifts that nobody really even wants, they do the same for you, you pack them in a car, drive across a state and a half to people that don't even seem to appreciate that you bothered to make the trip - but would surely gripe, and call you selfish if you DIDN'T make the trip. I miss all the joy of Christmas, and I hate that."

The woman behind the counter, a grandmotherly type - just stared at me like I told her that I eat kittens for dessert.


milissa said...

O.M.G I know what you mean! Let me start by saying Christmas is my favorite holiday...and always has been...I think it has something to so with my "love language" being gifts. And I do have a boyfriend, so I know it's not the same thing and I don't want to diminish your story...

I live 10 hours away from family...and have for the past 8 years. I am not married, do not have kids, and have the job that others are jealous of (but wouldn't be if they really knew what the job was.) I will acknowledge I get a lot of time off with it is ME that travels, with presents in tow, and blah, blah, blah...all that stuff you mentioned. And I know they appreciate the effort and it's great to is MY what that means is...many times my family still has to work while I'm in town. And they also have other family (family I'm not related to)/friend obligations.

I offered to host this year...but my sister-in-law is having a baby in December. So I'll give my brother a free pass. :) I live in the mountains...and my parents are worried about the weather. Plus, they are about to have a basically I've moved a little further down the chain. Oh well. It is what it is. I know they love me.

But I have decided I am NOT traveling for the holidays this year. It's too much...and with a brand new baby...I'm not even pretending my brother and sister-in-law are going to be up for hosting. I've graciously let them off the hook for that so that can focus on the important things like trying to figure out how to be parents...and sleep.

I've extended open invitations for my home...I hope someone takes me up on it. In the meantime, I will plan a trip for early Spring next year...and hopefully it won't feel like a deadline and a blur.

Andi said...

Oh, TRS, I hear you! And, it's hard to put into words or process with friends and family the mixed feelings the holidays can bring without sounding bitter. I don't want to bring others down, you know? But, it IS hard. This year I have the pleasure of going to our extended family pre-Christmas gathering with my younger brother and his wife and their toddler and my MUCH younger sister, her (2nd!) husband, and young stepdaughter. Oh, and my lil sis just announced she's pregnant. I love my family and am truly happy for my siblings, but it is SOOO awkward to be with them under the microscope of the small town where our parents live. I'm most dreading when our family goes to church together where we'll take up an entire pew and everyone will want to come catch up with my siblings and me and they'll have spouses and children to introduce and I'll have to go on and on about all the fantastic things I'm doing with work and travel as if that makes up for being alone. Ugh. And, my drive is only about 4 hours - God bless you with that 10 hour drive!

Bobbi said...

I'm glad you posted that story! I read your comment on my blog last night and found myself nodding along to everything you were saying.

Even the part about that woman looking at you like you eat kittens! I've gotten that look before!

I'm so glad to have found someone else I can share these experiences with and know they are right there with me.

auntie said...

As usual, this post pretty much sums up what most holidays are like for me these days! This year in particular is difficult because of the broken engagement and ex-fiance...I keep having to push thoughts out of my head of "this isn't the way this Christmas was supposed to be". It's been a constant effort to keep my head above water the last few weeks.

Yes, my life is probably more simple most of the time than my sister's - with three kids, she and her husband are constantly taking someone to some sort of practice or game or birthday party - but that doesn't mean that it's ALWAYS easier for me to work around their schedules, either. It's been a battle that I've fought only sparingly over the years, but it still stings every time a holiday or family event rolls around.

cat said...

I have to add to your griping because no one but my husband seems to understand. Sadly, I have a 1.5 yr old, husband, two wonderful dogs, and my holidays still go like this. It was fine when it was tradition to go to my grandparents house, because my grandparents actually paid attention to me and cared if I was there, even when I was an unruly teen and later a selfish college student. But now that my parents have become the grandparents, they think they get to decide what is tradition and how things should work for the holidays. No one cares what our new little family wants to make as our traditions; they just assume we will carry out what they deem right, both sets of parents mind you. Why is the family with the toddler, who won't sleep anywhere but his own crib (don't blame him one bit), required to travel for the holidays? We offer, I cook good food, there is plenty of seating, a nice TV to zone out if you don't feel like socializing, and even a comfortable guest bed with private bath...I just don't get it and end up feeling very unappreciated and so very alone.

Stacey said...

I can relate to this post, as the holidays are the toughest time of the year for me as well. Facing another Christmas without children, all the driving we have to do, and all the money we've spent on all our friends' kids (the number increasing every year) all make it pretty painful. It's the pits because I LOVE Christmas and I want it to be a time of joy, but I realize that sometimes the fact is that I'm just pretending.

Thanks for the honesty in this post and your blog as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I know just what you're saying...