I was born on Christmas day. When I tell people this, they all have the same reaction. Christmas? Really? Oh wow, that must suck. Quite frankly they are right. It does, sharing your birthday with the baby Jesus blows. Saying this, I still love Christmas in a way only a dyke reared. agnostic cynic can. My daughter wants to know if Santa is real, and I refuse to tell her he is not because part of me thinks maybe, if I just believed. he would be. One too many watchings of Miracle on 34th Street I guess.
My family Christmas never involved Christ. In fact, in our household the ladies would sneak into churches on the eve and "steal" a flame from a prayer candle. They called it taking back the light. We would have a winter solstice dinner on the 24th where we would sit around the table, each with a long thin unlit candle in our hands. One person would start, and light their candle from the stolen flame and then say something about the year that passed and some hopes for the year that was coming. Then they would kiss the person next to them and light their candle and the next person would do as the the one before until all the candles were lit. We ate tourtiere and had sweet perogies for desert. The ritual, as it was called ended sometime in my late 20s, after everyone had moved off and new families were made.
Christmas morning had tons of people and presents and fresh baked croissants with scrambled eggs and bacon. I go over to my sisters these days with my daughter and my mum and we still eat the same thing. My family is small though. and three adults and three kids makes for a fairly sparse Christmas dinner. My sister cooks and amazing turkey. There is an emptiness to me though, around that table. I am missing my other mothers, the noise and the wine and the laughing. My mother and sister are civilized, refined and it is quite polite.
I married a man who had a huge family, so my daughter knows the chaos and fun of a house filled with cousins. I think my husband would dread it, but I was in love. I was in love with the chaos, the slightly too drunk aunt, the ten kids rampaging through with shiny new toys. Mountains of paper and bows and sticky sweet fingers looking for batteries. The family was so big the grown ups did not buy each other gifts beyond some home made cookies, or a Toblerone bar. My mother in law would take me aside in a separate room and give me a special gift. One for my birthday, although I knew it was because she liked me best. I liked her best too.
My husband and I split about a year ago. I have not seen my in laws since. I miss them often and regret that it is too painful for him to have me join sometime. I know he could not bear it, so I understand that it can't happen. I did not really realize till afterwards that divorce was about more than a couple, it was about a separating of family. I lost a large part of mine, and Christmas has made me mourn that this year.
This year I am presented with a night all alone. I will have a morning with my ex and daughter, and eggs and bacon at my sisters, and a polite turkey dinner with a very nice wine and some tasty appetizer crafted out of a Bon Apetit back issue. My daughter will be rampaging with her cousins and aunts and uncles at my ex's, and I will go home to my tree and my dog and face the night by myself for the very first time. I feel dark about this. I wish I did not. I wish I had not joined the ranks of the holiday disappointed. My maudlin cliché reaction to an emotionally charged holiday.
Truth be told, I am not alone. I am not neglected. I am spoiled. Spoiled by having had too many good Christmases.
It has been a formative year and i think perhaps what I really need to do is light a candle. Light a candle and say something about the one that has past and something about my hopes for the year that is coming
So, goddesses, this is what I have to say:
I am grateful for my friends, the ones who gave me love and let me into their lives this year. They welcomed me into their "web" and I love being caught in their world. I am grateful for the kisses my daughter gives me unsolicited and plentiful. I am grateful this year for the man who showed me love and affection and kindness and for his perfect lips. I am even grateful to math, for kicking my ass, which needed a firm boot upside it.
I hope the next year brings me closer into the hearts of my new friends. I hope that I rest more and treat my body more kindly. I hope that I can find the balance between family, school, work, myself and love. I hope that those people around me who have had losses and pain this year find the new one brighter and lighter. I hope to plan, on the 24th of December 2012, a raid into a church, to steal a light so that I can sit around a table with meat pie and polish sweet dumplings and kiss the lips of those closest to me and see if some of these wishes had been fulfilled.
Don't worry, the next post will be funny.