I grew up LOVING Christmas. Every aspect of it. Family time, decorations, traditions, caroling, the delicate ribbon candy that my Grammie would bring every year that my Mum would place on one of her most beautiful crystal dishes. And of course, the whole Santa thing. I was the kid that they coined the term, “Acting like a kid on Christmas” after. I held onto believing in Santa until my mid-teens. No joke. I knew it wasn’t real but I just couldn’t bear to let it go, so I played dumb to all I knew that I was CERTAIN he was real. Every Christmas morning, I would wake up, basically in the middle of the night, and suffer the hours and hours I had to wait until my two older sisters woke up. My Dad would set the time every year. “You have to wait until 7”, he’d say. “7??????” I’d hysterically dispute. I’d spend those hours just sitting near the magical and incredibly bright Christmas tree just reveling in what could be in all those beautiful boxes and trying to sneak a peek at which labels said my name, in the most obvious and memorable Santa penmanship. (It was always so cool to me that Santa and my Dad had such similar handwriting.)
I’ve written about my anti-Christmas stance before. Last year in fact. (See here.) But I have to write about it again because I’m still trying to figure it out. How I went from one extreme to the other. I can absolutely rack my brain now trying to remember when it all changed. When the commercialism of Christmas made me grow cynical. When the family gatherings weren’t as much fun as I’d remembered. When it was more stress than joy. When the pains from my years on the planet made Christmas hurt more than heal. I don’t know when it exactly was. It’s been a long time. Even having kids to make Christmas magical for didn’t melt my cold, dead Christmas heart. Of course, I put on a good show for them. Creating all the traditions and injecting all the magic into their lives around the holidays that I had when I was their age. But, I was always sad that it was just an act. I was being fake. I could have just skipped over the day after Thanksgiving until December 26th and been fine. Just pretend it wasn’t happening.
So, all this said, to put that sugary, unnaturally red cherry on top, in 2016, my Dad passed away sitting in a chair by the magical and incredibly bright Christmas tree, on Christmas morning. He had battled a long battle with Cancer and being the true and lifelong Christmas lover he was (i.e. he posed as Santa for a version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” book and played Santa many times for Rotary events…) he lost his battle on the very morning that he had loved all his life. It was devastating and cemented in my physical being that Christmas was the worst day ever.
All along this road of my life, a life that has half included rolling my eyes at everything Christmas-related and having unnecessary rage when Christmas items would appear in stores or on television before Halloween, I have never stopped loving one thing about Christmas…the music. I adore Christmas music. I didn’t want to. I’ve tried to be like, “Ugh, Christmas music…” But that was not authentic. I loved it. It’s a throwback to the yesteryear of happier and simpler days, the beautiful melodies and heartwarming lyrics, I just can’t hate it. Music was the single element that proved my Grinchy heart flame still was lit. But still, my rules were strict. No Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. That’s always been my rule. Thanksgiving gets the shaft every year! It goes, Halloween, Christmas. Just like that. Thanksgiving is over there waving its arms and yelling, “Guyyyss!!! What about me??” I guess because there’s no candy to sell or gifts to buy for Thanksgiving, we are deterred from celebrating it. But, side note, it really is the best holiday. Little pressure. Food. Fall cocktails. I’m into it.
So, the bottom line of this story, I am sitting here, trying to get some work done, it’s November 15th, a typical Thursday…and what’s been bubbling up for a couple weeks now just bubbled over…and I am sitting here typing this, listening to Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song” and the area where my teeny Christmas heart resides is faintly warm.
I so miss that girl who loved Christmas SO much. Her unbridled joy and exuberant attitude for the season that was palpable to others, I miss her. This Christmas will be the second Christmas without my beloved Dad and in homage to him, I’m going to do everything I can this holiday season to be more like the Grinch at the end of the Christmas tale instead of like the Grinch at the beginning like normal, and help my heart grow three sizes…and then, the true meaning of Christmas would come through…as Dr. S taught me.