Starting Over – My First Christmas
A lot has gone since we last spoke on this blog, Amanda and I moved out of Discovery Ridge early in December and into a brand new house in Mahogany. We’ve been here a few weeks now, and are slowly beginning to get settled in, we have a few more boxes of I don’t even know what left to sort through, but we’ll get there. The home is beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with it. We have a lot of work to do in the spring with the yard, a deck and a fence but I am looking forward to all of that. One of my favorite things about the new house is the office space/2nd spare bedroom upstairs, it’s the one space in the home I am allowed full control of, and I love it! For those who have read this blog in the past, you know that writing for me is sort of like a ritual, I need music, I need dim lights, I need incense, I need a lot of stars to align to be creative. In a one-bedroom condo, it was difficult to do all of that without being a nuance to someone else. Now, with the extra space, I am able to get away and do my writing pow-wow more often. It sounds stupid, but the new home has been much more conducive to my writing. …I hope I just used that word properly; “conducive” has become my favorite word lately. My mom will let me know if I used that incorrectly I am sure, haha.
I hope everyone is prepared, and excited for the holidays coming up in a couple of days. I am a little bit of everything, excited, scared, nervous, sad, the whole works… once again. Springtime, leading up to the anniversary of Jen’s passing, and December are usually the hardest times of the year for myself, and my family. This will be our sixth Christmas, and New Year’s without her, and it will be my first real Christmas without Jen. Scratch that. Now that I write it out. I’m petrified. The year Jen passed away, my mom, Brody and I set out to Cuba last minute, I believe we left Christmas day. It was the best thing we could have done, cause I didn’t have to see Christmas really at all. We flew home on New Years day. Again, it was great cause I didn’t have to see traditional new years back at home. Years since I’ve been in Hawaii, with Amanda and her family, and last year with both of ours. That was also great, because you were completely distracted from the holidays here at home. If we flew out on Xmas day, Terrific, I missed it all again. If we didn’t, well, it wasn’t as bad cause you were usually so busy preparing for a 2-week trip to Hawaii that you didn’t really notice it as much. And, in Hawaii, sure we still celebrated Christmas, we had dinner, exchanged gifts, said Merry Christmas. But we did so in our shorts and flip flops, in 28 degree weather, at a Hawaiian pub. It wasn’t real. The people around were doing the same thing, nothing really changed. It was wake up, coffee, newspaper, breakfast, and beach and then onto some activity, everyone did the same thing there, you never really saw Christmas, so to me it wasn’t really Christmas, it didn’t feel like it at all, new years the same thing. I was able to avoid it, year after year, and I truly felt as I woke up on January 3rd, or 4th, after the dust had settled, I felt like I had won. I beat the holidays. The 3-4 weeks before the holidays, just like the 3-4 weeks before May 7th, you work yourself up so much wondering what it’s going to be like, that you almost psyche yourself out, and that becomes the most difficult part. When it’s over, and you’re still breathing, you’re still alive… you feel like you’ve won, like you just beat someone in a battle that took nearly a month. You came out on top. Christmas and New Years has always been the same thing, Usually around Jan. 3, Jan 4 once it’s all done, I don’t feel like I have to hide from the holidays anymore, I realize that I survived, and maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all that bad. I feel completely victorious, as you would after winning an exhausting battle, even though the battle is with yourself.
Amanda always calls me the Grinch, jokingly because I am so anti-holidays. The truth is, I do hate them. Absolutely. You would too. You would hate any time of the year that is as difficult for me as the Christmas holidays, and the spring. We used to always spend every Christmas together, whether in Victoria, or Vegreville. Our families would be together, and it was awesome. Christmas was always one of the few times a year I would be able to see my sister when she lived in Victoria. I looked forward to Christmas so much. I can remember our last Christmas break together vividly. We were going to Joey’s in Sherwood Park for dinner, my mom, my brother, Jen, Abbey and myself. We were meeting my aunt and uncle for dinner. I can remember the entire drive to Sherwood Park, I remember the conversations, I remember what everyone was wearing, I remember the weather, I even remember the damn road conditions, I remember bits and pieces of the dinner conversation. I remember exactly where we sat in Joey’s. The exact table, and I remember where everyone sat. What I don’t remember, was really ever saying Happy Holidays to anyone, or saying goodbye to my sister. I had no idea that would be our last Christmas, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever have the opportunity to hug my sister. I had no idea. It was. I’ll never go to that Joey’s again.
This is why I hate the holidays. I’m afraid of them, I want to skip them all together, if not at the very least completely avoid them. As I mentioned before, I’ve done a bang up job of doing the latter. But, this year… There is no escaping. I am here. I am stuck, I have nowhere to go, I have nothing to distract myself. I am going to have to finally face the holidays, and it’s already been a struggle. I can tell since the beginning of December, I’ve just started to become a bit more stand-offish, I’ve been distant, I’ve been tired, not really motivated. Just feel like you’re in a complete slump. And it’s not really helping a whole lot at home when we have a tall task of moving going on. There have been days where I’ve just come home, and I’ve been completely content sitting on the couch with the hockey game on, and doing nothing, saying nothing. I’m just completely lost in myself, the hockey game is on, but I’m not even watching it. I want too. And, I want to help unpack, or organize things, but I just for whatever reason. I can’t. A serious case of the holidays blue’s, if you will… I guess.
A few times I’ve drove to work, or to hockey, or to wherever, and I can see Christmas tree’s in the windows of homes, or families building snowmen, or Christmas decorations. Usually, I’d think that this should make a person happy, excited, or at the least feel good. For me, it’s as difficult as can be. Right away I have flashbacks to our Christmas’ together, whether it’s dinner at Joey’s, or we’re all sitting around the tree in Victoria. Then, I think ahead to what will happen in a week when I am still here, and It’s Christmas, how the hell is that going to go. Probably not well. Then, I begin to psyche myself out all over again.
This is why I hate Christmas, Amanda is right. It’s not because I just don’t like it, it’s because it’s an extremely devastating time of year. It’s just… hard.
I’ve been thinking for the last month, what the hell am I going to do when the clock strikes 12, and its December 25th. Now what. I thought, well, I’ll go somewhere; I’ll go for a drive. Nope, I can’t do that, because I’ll see it. I’ll see Christmas, I’ll see families enjoying it, as they damn well should, I just can’t anymore. I thought, maybe I’ll just hang out, and just write all day, and watch movies, but then I thought nope, I can’t do that cause I’ll put myself right back into that slumping feeling where I am incapable of doing anything else. I thought, well, I’ll just sleep, I’ll just play xBox, I’ll go skate at the outdoor rink… I have no fucking idea. I have no idea what I am going to do. I thought maybe, I’d drive to Vegreville for the day, and just spend the day with my family there… But, nope, that’s far away. Really, I just tried to avoid Christmas with the family because of 350 Kms? … This is how far I am starting to go to try and avoid the whole thing. I don’t want to leave Amanda at home by herself all day on Xmas day, and I certainly don’t think I want the hoopla of Christmas.
I don’t want to take Christmas away from anyone else. I believe it’s something every family should celebrate if you can, like I said, it was my favorite time of the year. I’ve just lost that now, and I try myself to keep it all to myself without effecting those around me, in my “Grinch” ways. Like, Amanda for instance. She loves Christmas, and I want her too. She want’s to do the gifts, and the decorations, and everything else, which I great but I just don’t. But, I keep it to myself.
So this year, Christmas for us will be on Boxing day. We are going to celebrate it, just a day late. I laughed at that kind of, thought that’s Jen’s way of compromising with me. Telling me, Kid, you gotta go through this, but I’ll throw you a bone. Do it on boxing day, not Christmas day. Have Christmas Day at your own pace. I don’t know if it’s her compromising with me, or having a laugh, but either way… I am hoping it helps.
On Boxing Day, my mom, niece, and my mom’s boyfriend Alan will come over for dinner, gifts, and… Christmas. As too will my good friend Geoff, who has been through it all with me from day one of this year never ending grieving process. I have to admit, In a weird way, I am kind of looking forward to it. I am looking forward to Jan 3 more than anything else, and the days to come after. This entire blog, I shared with my counsellor, told her why Christmas is so difficult. She mentioned that maybe this is one of the last steps in my grieving process, and the last barricade of an extremely challenging year. Christmas was always such a special time for me, then I lost that, then I avoided every one of them. Now this year, I have nowhere to go, but I’ve had all the years in-between to grieve, and to prepare. I can’t hide from Christmas forever, so maybe this year, is the year I go through it, and I become victorious on Jan 3 when it’s all over, and from there it’s uphill, Christmas is the last thing I need to conquer.
Maybe I am just being too much of an optimist these days… but this year has not really been conducive to my life.
Bring it on holidays, I guess.