Wife. Mama. Amateur Cook. Pretend Sewer. Novice To All Things Domestic.

Shedding old skins for Christmas.

Posted on: Thursday, November 21, 2013

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When you grow up in a home that is dysfunctional year round, the pressures of the holidays only amplifies the tension that was already there.

As a child, I remember feeling excited about seeing Santa at the mall, picking out presents and decorating for the holidays.

I also can still feel the anxiety welling up inside my little frame as my parents stumbled their way through another Christmas Eve.

Children are so forgiving, so willing to see past their parents flaws, desperate for the experience that will let them know that they are worthy, that their home is a safe place, and that their family is not as broken as it appears.

As I grew older, I began to resent the holidays. Maybe it wasn’t the actual holidays themselves, but the way that my town seemed to burst with excitement and happiness as they counted down to the days that marked some of the worst memories of my life.

 

I moved out at fifteen. My little sister, Brooke, moved in with me two years later.

 

We celebrated the holidays together but we didn’t fake the feelings that we knew hadn’t been there for us in many years.

We didn’t listen to Christmas music. Ever.

We had a tree every year, we went to Christmas Eve services, we exchanged gifts. But we did it our way. In the stand offish way of two scarred sisters who loved each other and wanted to give each other those experiences but just didn’t know how without it hurting.

 

The first holiday season we spent with our new family was enlightening, encouraging, and very uncomfortable. They tried so hard to make us feel completely apart of. We opened gifts together, ate together, played games together- it was a true family day in every sense of the word. It felt nice and secure but I also felt myself awkwardly walking through the acts.

As the years passed, the holidays became a little less painful and more enjoyable.

We still didn’t listen to Christmas music voluntarily and it was a known joke within our family that the girls “hated” Christmas music.

 

And then I had my first Christmas season with Craig.

I had never met someone so into every aspect of the holiday season.

This was a man who sang Christmas songs in his car at the top of his lungs in November.

A man who chose to spend his lunch breaks eating next to the lit up tree in the mall.

A man who took a seasonal job at a retail store just “to be apart of the hustle and bustle of the season”.

 

And he had fallen in love with me.. a non-gift stealing Grinch.

He didn’t get it, but he never pushed- with the exception of belting out Mariah Carey Christmas songs while I cringed in the passenger seat.

 

When I became pregnant, the holidays became even more exciting for my husband.

As for me, I was walking through a lot of confusion.

I wanted desperately for my children to experience the holidays the way every child deserves; without their weirdo mom standing in the back ground having an internal battle every year.

I knew I had a choice. I could keep doing this year after year, or I could let it go.

I could try. My boys deserved an effort on my part.

 

As my brain slowly began the shift from broken child to new mom, I felt myself softening.

I started putting Christmas stations on Pandora while I cooked.

It felt disagreeable at first, but I was used to healthy feeling unnatural.

I remember Craig coming into the room with a look of shock on his face and me blushing in embarrassment and giving him a “do not say a word” look.

 

Corbin’s first Christmas didn’t go as smooth and flawless as I would have liked, but I was much more authentic and present in the holiday spirit than I had ever been before.

 

This year, I felt true excitement buying our tree and planning our decorating evening.

My heart swelled as I watched a daddy and his little boy hang ornaments on their tree while stopping to laugh at funny scenes from Elf in between.

 

After putting the baby to bed last night, we settled in on our couch with all of the lights off except for the glow from the tree.

Staring at the tree in the quiet of our little house, I felt pride building deep inside of me.

It is not always easy but I am doing it.

 

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