I Love Junk

X-Ers! (And anyone else.) I need your help!

Posted on: November 4, 2010

I love the shit out of the holidays.

Normally.

But this year it’s not happening. I already had a lackluster Halloween, during which I made absolutely no effort to celebrate. This is not like me.

And now, Thanksgiving and Christmas are sneaking up. Normally, by mid-October I’m waging a secret battle against the urge to start covering everything I own with more shiny crap than a parade of drag queens. Now, it’s November – open season for Christmassy goodness by Overgrown Child standards – and I feel nothing but an impending sense of doom. Oh sure, I’ve got pumpkin Pop-Tarts and cranberry ginger ale as a tribute to the oft-neglected Thanksgiving season, and I’ve got the X-E Christmas Jukebox as background music for my paltry NaNoWriMo efforts.

What I don’t have is the house I’ve spent all my previous 25 Christmases in. I don’t have the string of programmable colored lights that has adorned my living room wall every December since I was twelve. I don’t have the six-foot artificial tree that has been in my family since the 1960s, sheds a few more needles every year, and smells unmistakably of every Christmas morning I ever had as a child. I don’t have the ornaments I made in elementary school, the ugly straw reindeer my mom insisted on keeping in the living room all year because she loved it so much, the stocking with my name on it. I don’t have my grandma’s roast pan and casserole dishes and weird green gravy boat for Thanksgiving dinner. All that stuff is still in Florida.

When I moved to Boston, I could only bring what I could fit in my car. There was room only for things I use every day, not special seasonal stuff. And so the special seasonal stuff got locked up in my house and left behind.

But I’m also aching for things I couldn’t have brought with me no matter how much room I had. My Christmas tree may be waiting for me back in Florida, but my mom isn’t. Neither is my great-aunt, who was so picky about her house but approved of my decorating skills enough to let me trim her tree each year. Neither is my grandma, who always asked me to play “Winter Wonderland” on the piano because she liked the part about the birds. I will never see them again.

Most of the year, I can focus just on what’s around me. I can distract myself with the Here And Now and never think about all the stuff from my past that I miss. But the holidays, for me, are about the past. They’re about all the people who loved me as a child, who are now gone forever. And I don’t want to become one of those bitter people who feels lonely at Christmas and so decides to turn it into a month-long bitchfest, snapping at anyone who dares to have fun near them. Those people drive me nuts. Besides, why would I want to forget all my best memories with my mom? She was awesome all the time, but that sweet Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas triumvirate is when we really came together. I don’t want to lose that special time just because it’s sad.

But it is sad, and it’s going to make me deeply homesick. And this is where I need your help, my fellow overgrown children. I want to know how I can make it not suck. I need to find some new rituals and traditions for myself, since the ones with my family are gone. I need to find ways to keep myself tied to the past without getting stuck there. I need to find some ways to make Thanksgiving and Christmas as awesome as they were when I was a kid. Maybe not awesome in the same exact ways, but still awesome.

Give me your Thanksgiving and Christmas cheer. Tell me your goofy traditions. Tell me your favorite recipe that features cranberries or pumpkin or ginger or eggnog or whatever. Tell me your favorite thing to do in the snow! I will have snow here! Help me find my normal annoying levels of Christmas mojo. I need it to fight the sadness away.

My Charlie Brown tree isn’t here to help me.

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4 Responses to "X-Ers! (And anyone else.) I need your help!"

Hey you. I concur, though it’s sad to celebrate without the ones we love, I could never forgo celebrating in some way entirely. Therefore, as a mom, myself, I’m big on creating traditions, magic, baking, decorating, and documenting it all. Most of it is tagged with “traditions” or “paganism” on my blog, if you care to check that out. It’s very good and right for you to start building your own traditions, especially if they feel more authentic to you, too. ((hugs))

Aw, first big ((hugs)) to you! One of my favorite Christmas traditions was evolved when we got our eldest cat in 1999. We put up our beautiful artificial tree and decorated it with all our glass ornaments, the ornaments I made as a child, and the ornaments our daughter made in Preschool, eagerly anticipating the new ones she would make in Kindergarten.

The first day after we put up our tree, we came home to find our tree on the floor with several shattered ornaments on the floor underneath it. Our 6 month old kitten, Parris meowed at us from a safe distance away. We stood our tree up and cleaned up the mess.

That night we heard, “thump, shatter, meow!” We got up to investigate and found the tree pinning Parris to the ground, he had clearly tried to climb it (again!). We figured Parris had learned his lesson, so we again cleaned up our broken ornaments and stood the tree back up.

Two days later, we came home to find the tree halfway across the living room and pretty much every ornament was destroyed, including the ones my daughter and I had made. We cried then, knowing Christmas was either going to lack a tree or a cat, so we gave up on the tree.

The following year, we outsmarted the cat by making our own tree out of three pieces of green posterboard, with masking tape holding them together at the back. We taped the tree to the wall and then sat down with construction paper and made ornaments and even a string of lights (strips of green construction paper with multi-colored construction paper bulbs, with ink making them look lit-up) that was do detailed, there were even a couple “burnt-out bulbs.”

We had a great time making our tree together and at the end of the season, we took pictures of the tree (later captioned, “knock this one down, Parris!”), then cut out our favorite ornaments, which we save and sometimes reattach to future trees. We have a few ornaments that are very 3-D with all the tree bits attached to them. We recycle the rest of the tree and make a new one every year, while we sip eggnog and listen to Christmas music. 🙂

I dealt with this for a few years – more of a distance problem than a missing passed loved ones issue though. My heart goes out to you on that one. Christmas is very much tied to our past, our childhoods and everything great that we remember about it. My suggestion is to go out and do some things if you can. Craft fairs, lightning ceremonies, whatever they have in Boston that you might not have had in Florida, go for it. There’s lots to see and do in New England around Christmas time. There is snow so you can build snowpeople and snowanimals, make snow angels and other fun things. I couldn’t afford all the Christmas trappings one year away from home so I made them. I took poster board and drew and cut out Christmas hello kitties in villages, Santas with sleighs and everything else you can imagine and taped them to the walls. Bought a small tree and some little ornaments and made that… it wasn’t the same but it kept me busy and you know what? Seeing some lights and sparkle and cheer DOES help. Just sitting and watching Christmas cartoons and sipping hot cocoa can put you in the Xmas mood if there’s some background lights flickering. Make or buy cards and send them to your friends. Bake cookies or cakes or pies or whatever floats your boat. There’s so many things you can do it is endless. I hope you find some things to get your mind off the past and into the Christmas present. 🙂

Go to Christmas bazaars and craft fairs. They often have second hand ornaments and even small trees. Won’t be the same as the ones you grew up with, but the craft fairs are fun, and the Christmas stuff there is affordable. Go for walks when it is snowing and quiet, especially at night. Make snow angels! Snow people are fun too, and snowball fights if there are like minded people around. Choose something you would like to do at Christmas and make it a new tradition you can continue each year.

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