Christmas is a weird one for me.
Growing up, the holidays were always a bipolar environment at home. Christmas morning would be filled with laughter, big breakfasts, awesome presents and lots of photographs. However by the afternoon, alcohol consumption would be well under way: adults arguing, tears in the kitchen and the children walking on egg shells while trying to eat dinner even though we were still full from breakfast.
After my father left it was just as strenuous – having very little money was burden enough throughout the year, however Christmas was difficult for my mother consumed with guilt that she could not afford presents like we were used to receiving when our father was still around. Everybody hated Christmas.
This seemed a normal tradition until I went to University. Back home, I was always blasé about how my Christmas had gone however living with people in halls, there’s more time to go into detail. This is when I realised that our Christmases were not normal and although everybody wasn’t having the perfect Hollywood Christmas movie Christmas, people did things with each other and it wasn’t just about the gifts; seeing as the day is not just about Christ but also spending an insane amount of time with your family that you wouldn’t usually do on any other day of the year, everybody else seemed to come out less scarred than myself.
In my house, Christmas was still depressing no matter how much effort I went to, to change situations around. I took the responsibility to get everyone up to open presents together before breakfast; to cook the dinner to give mum a break while blasting Christmas music through the house; to try and encourage my mother and sister to play games with me. However, the day always fell flat pretty much after breakfast. I could never seem to stop arguments nor could I rally up the troops to play games and do something fun. Sometimes – but not always – dinner was a tense time of the clock ticking and plates scrapping. Being a bit of a loner, I relish my “me time” – every day at home was spent concocting ways to spend as little time with my family as possible. However, Christmas is traditionally family day isn’t it? Regardless of how we feel, during the holidays we are obliged to bond whether we like it or not! Right?
This Christmas will not be spent with my family.
As I no longer speak to my family, I am preparing myself for the idea that this disconnection will apply for the foreseeable future. Maybe longer. I’ve lost my mother and I’ve lost my very first and longest best friend in my sister. I’ve been to the dark place with this and crawling out of that dark place forced to me create new traditions:
- swapping gifts with my work friends on the last day of term and reminiscing on the almost concluded year while listening to Christmas playlists on Spotify;
- dancing like idiots at the staff Christmas dinner and drinking too much wine from a ridiculously early hour of the day (1pm….. oops!);
- buying tacky Christmas decorations for my house making my housemates laugh hysterically at how much of a soppy girl I am (I live with 3 boys);
- going to random Christmas events in London with the boyfriend (unfortunately not Winter Wonderland as it is far too expensive for a part time student in full time employment which pays a pittance!)
There are more which escape me at this moment, however the point is that this year I am excited about Christmas – perhaps for the first time in as long as I can remember. This year I will be spending it with my partner’s family and in all honesty it will be strange spending the holiday with another family. However I feel incredibly blessed to be welcomed into their home. It will be Christmas surrounded by people who accept me, that’s all that matters to me this year.
Although an amazingly beautiful gift from the boy would be almost just as important.