Memories of Christmas Past

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I know that Christmas is over but the memories linger on. I’ve been seeing previews for the movie, The Holiday, about two women who are unhappy and who decide that they don’t want to be home for Christmas and each go to another country to escape reality. This got me to thinking of my past Christmas’s when I felt the same way.

 I always feel a little blue during the Christmas holidays since I became an adult. There is nothing like the magic of Christmas when you are a child, the difficulty of going to sleep when you are wondering what is under the tree. My sister once had me get up at three in the morning to see if I could see what was in the living room by the tree but I had to do it in the dark so I wouldn’t wake up the parents. I could see two bicycles where the street lights from outside reflected off of the chrome handle bars. I wasn’t as excited as my sister and could probably have slept until morning but she kept me awake.

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 I made a big deal out of Christmas for my children with egg nog and Christmas music playing while we decorated the tree. I had advent calendars, a creche where the baby Jesus wasn’t put in place until Christmas Eve. We went to church, sang in choirs, had Santa Clause show up at the front door. It was fun to share in the excitement of children who still believed in magic. As they got older it became harder and harder to get them out of bed and we occasionally didn’t spend Christmas at home but went on trips. Somewhere along the way, Christmas became a sort of chore, especially as my then marriage was winding its way to the end and I found myself putting all of the Christmas decorations away by myself, becoming resentful.

 After my divorce I didn’t even want to get a tree. A friend told me I had to do something for my daughter, still living at home with me. I bought a tree, got totally new decorations for it and went through the motions of having some holiday spirit. She was going through a rough time herself during this time and Christmas became a cheerless activity that we somehow got through. Holidays can be such a bummer. They seem to make bad times seem worse, and emotions, especially bad ones, feel magnified. I remember putting some left over turkey into the refrigerator and suddenly finding myself sobbing.

 So, for the next Christmas(this was ten years ago), I decided to skip the whole thing. By then my daughter wasn’t living with me. I didn’t buy a tree, I didn’t bring out any decorations. I decided on the spur of the moment to go to Las Vegas. Why, I’m not sure, except it was a place, in my mind, the least Christmassy city in the world. Nothing there but sunshine, casinos, one armed bandits, and unending buffets. For some reason, my niece decided that she wanted to go with me. So off we went. We stayed at a small casino/hotel, The Hard Rock Cafe. I love to gamble. I love slot machines and I love black jack. However, I seldom win any serious money. I am such a conservative, that I always limit myself to a certain amount to bet and once that is gone-and it almost always is-I stop. After two days, I decided that I couldn’t bet any more money. I had used up my quota. My niece had stopped on the first day. We found out that on Christmas day there are no shows to see. It isn’t much fun to wander around various casinos watching other people bet. We went and looked at all of the rather elaborate casinos with pirate fights going on outside in full sized boats, Roman statues and light shows and all of the spectacular things that they have going on in Vegas. What a soul-less place it turned out to be. I learned that it is not a place a depressed person should go to. My niece even had some sort of panic attack. I looked at our plane tickets and discovered that I had my dates wrong and we actually had one more day there than I thought. I spent some extra money to get out of Las Vegas a day earlier.

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 So I learned that you can’t escape Christmas no matter how much you want to and that it follows you around no matter where you go like a little ghost tugging on your sleeve and you can’t shut the door on it. And depression has to be worked through, there are no shortcuts. Each year after the Las Vegas debacle got better and better. I still don’t do much decorating and I still feel that little ghost when I hear some Christmas songs, such as Blue Christmas or Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-man, that’s a sad one. I count my blessings every day and I always feel that next year will be the best one yet.

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So here it is–time for another new year. May yours be filled with love and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Memories of Christmas Past

  1. I think the holidays are so hard because we have certain expectations of ourselves that we are never able live up to. We stress ourselves out to have this perfect holiday and sometimes it’s just too much to deal with.

    Best for the next year.

  2. Linda so much I want to say…I suffer with depression and Christmas time makes it more acute,no matter how hard I try to not let it! I made it through this year a I know next year has some wonderful times ahead already, but also some difficult times to come that I can’t avoid…Thanks for sharing your story, it’s helped me and I admire your strength through those difficult times. God Bless you and have a wonderful new year…Nel

  3. Yes, Christmas can be hard, no matter where one’s location. I paid extra once to leave a place a day early – after breaking up with a boyfriend. 🙂 Lovely photos. Wishing you and yours the happiest of new year’s – and I hope we finally find time to get together in Paris!

  4. I guess you know Linda that you are not alone feeling a bit down around the holidays. All of us are going through it in various degrees – if think you don’t you just fooling yourself.
    We miss our early years and traditions and people that are no longer here to share them with us and to validate our memories.
    But life is precious (and short!)and we should not squander it. My motto is: Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance.
    Hope the New Year will bring you peace and contentment. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks, Linda, for visiting again! I hope you too have quiet peaceful corners where good memories linger, solace is assured, and equilibrium is restored. Best wishes in the New Year from a not-so-distant friend. Pam

  6. It seems to me, wandering the blogiverse, that there is a huge divide at about 30 years of age.

    The younger women seem to be full of joy and anticipation, and the older ones — not.

    For me, as long as it was about doing anything/everything *I* wanted to do, pretty much when *I* wanted to do it, I loved it.

    As soon as a representative of the next generation showed up, the shift from “whatever I feel like doing” to “my responsibility to make this Right” began. The more it became about doing what I was *expected* (maybe only by myself….) to do, rather than about what I *wanted* to do, the worse it got.

    “The Grinch hated Christmas; the whole Christmas season!” I can identify……..

    I don’t do much, now. I write a holiday letter and send it out, and I appreciate our little fake tree after my daughter puts it up and puts the lights on it. I send presents, but am shifting more and more to giving contributions to charities in people’s names rather than buying some faceless thing that the recipient may not want and surely doesn’t need……….

    The older I get, the less I like doing things because I have to (never one of my strengths!). This season brings all that out, in spades……

    Especially as we’re not supposed to admit that we’re not having fun……….

    I’m glad that we can share our unease; it does help to know that I’m not the only one out here who is thrilled when it’s January and the whole thing is over!

    Still enjoying our new year’s fudge, though. 🙂 That’s one tradition I don’t suppose I’ll grow away from. Thinking about the marshmallow creme issue — so many things like peanut butter or vegemite or marshmallow creme which are unique to one place or another. When my brother and sister in law spent two years in Sweden, everyone who came from the States to visit was required to bring Reece’s Pieces. 🙂

  7. I’m happy that someone pointed to the difficulties of the holiday season…I often feel melancholy during this season and the new year brings on a whole host of challenges as I reexamine my life, hopes, and goals. This New Year, I decided to spend it in church…something I’ve never done before; I’d like to do this more often. It helped me bring in the new year with a positive outlook.

    Thank you for sharing this…I grew tired of reading so many relentless posts on other blogs of “what did santa get for you…blah, blah, blah”. Sigh. :0)

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