Sunday, January 5, 2014
I donít want anyone, anywhere to confuse what Iím about to say - but sometimes the holidays just suck.
Yeah, I said it.
The holidays suck. Maybe not for everyone, but I know Iím not alone in this.
I mean, I guess everything about the holidays doesnít suck, but for me, anyway, they are almost always emotional.
You know that hollow, day after Christmas kind of feeling? That. I hate that.
I guess it boils down to expectations. No matter what, we always have them.
Other people have different ones, and then we are all in the same place trying to celebrate and be happy, but there are kids everywhere and tons of people to be fed. And I crave the quiet corner in my bedroom but Iíd be sad if I was there because I want to see everybody and do everything, but thatís hard too.
My parents divorced when I was 16. It affected every member of my family differently but deeply. Sometimes it still surprises me that my parents arenít together anymore. Like it just happened yesterday.
Then, in 2006, someone broke into my childhood home and burned it to the ground. (BTW, great job on never doing anything about that, ever, Jasper Police Department.) Thankfully my mother wasnít in the house when it happened but she lost everything. And for me, the last bit of ďhomeĒ was gone. Even after my parentís divorce, home was still home. But then it was just gone and part of my childhood went with it. I miss that house, and the life I thought I was supposed to have pre-divorce. I struggle to this day with my expectations being so very different from my reality.
The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked dinner at The Farm for my wonderful family. The in-law family that has accepted me as their own for the last 16 years. My dad came by for a quick visit before dinner and I was so happy to be there with everyone. We ate dinner, my nieces washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and I went upstairs to the room Zeb and I share at The Farm, and cried for two hours.
It wasnít about anybody or anything, itís just that sometimes, when you are broken - the things that are supposed to feel good, donít. Iím not sure if I should attribute this to being from a ďbroken home,Ē having chronic depression, being human or all of the above.
I texted with my friend Heather, (because sheís the kind of friend you can text the day before Thanksgiving, when you are crying in the bed), and just talking with her made me feel so normal that I cried harder. Mostly because I knew I needed to write about this moment, because I donít want you to think you are alone if having to force yourselves to keep moving forward through the holidays when you donít always feel like it.
I took for granted when I was growing up in my parentsí huge house that one day it would be full of their grandchildren. It never crossed my mind that not only would I not be spending the holidays with my parents, but they wouldnít be spending it with each other.
And every year, I find myself holding my breath around the holidays.
Not figuratively. My chest aches and I realize Iím not breathing and it hurts. It hurts to breathe, but it hurts not to. So I take a deep breath and pack up my family and we come to The Farm, where my husband and kids feel like theyíve always belonged but where I still feel slightly conspicuous. I love it there, but itís not my home - itís not where I was raised. Itís not mine.
But I keep it breezy on Facebook and say things like, ďHave a great turkey day. May all your food dreams come true. Happy Holidays. Fa la la la laaaa.Ē
Because itís easier than saying, ďHey, I realize today may be really hard for you because itís not what you thought it was going to be five years ago or three months ago or two minutes ago. But I hope itís bearable. I hope itís good. I hope you make it through this day with a smile. I hope you are kind to yourself today. I hope you breathe and notice something beautiful. Maybe itís not what you thought it was going to be. But maybe youíve been adopted into something that is lovely and beautiful and full of light.Ē
But maybe thatís what I should say instead. Because maybe then youíd feel less alone, and so would I.
Because if youíve lost someone, if you are struggling with depression, if you feel out of place or out of step or out of sync, I simply hope your holidays are bearable.
I hope you breathe through them. I hope you embrace what is beautiful and let go of everything that isnít and I pray for peace for all us in the midst of our own expectations.
Robin OíBryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is ďKetchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.Ē Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog www.robinschicks.com,