Reframing Christmas

I just had the best Christmas I’ve ever had.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t with my family. I was with friends, and my fiance. I made the decision to stay off the icy roads this year and stay home. I felt really guilty at first. I felt like I was abandoning my family, but I just really, really didn’t want to do the whole Christmas thing this year. I wanted to ignore it completely. To be honest, I was getting a little bah humbug about the whole thing.

It might seem weird for someone who is all over the whole love, peace and joy thing to hate Christmas, but let me give you some background.

My parents were divorced when I was six, and from that time on, every Christmas, it was always a choice between Mom or Dad. When I was really little, they chose obviously. When I was older, I made the choice, and usually chose to spend it with my Dad, because then I got to see more family all at once. It was kind of the utilitarian choice. But no matter who I was with, I always felt like I was letting the other part of my family down.

We had some of the usual Christmas drama, as most families do. Some mild fighting, which is almost inevitable when that many people are together in an intensely emotional time of sleep deprivation, extra sugar, extra excitement with the added instability of the departure from the usual routine. But every year, I grow to hate Christmas more and more, even though I always wound up having fun in the end.   I would cry every year, usually on Christmas Eve ’cause I missed Mom, or Dad and it was usually just too much for me to handle.

So this year I wanted to stay away from all of that, to avoid all those feelings. But I still felt them. I still felt angry and sad and annoyed by Christmas even though I wasn’t going to go through all of that this year. I was so upset about it that I wondered if something traumatic had happened that I couldn’t remember on a Christmas day.

I asked my sister, since she has a much better memory (or hasn’t repressed as much from childhood as I did) and she did tell me a story that explained the depth of my feelings. One year and we can’t remember what year that was, Mom and Dad couldn’t decide who would have us on Christmas day, so we spend the morning with Mom and headed off to the airport to fly as unaccompanied minors in the afternoon to Dad’s house. The flight was empty and the flight attendants fussed over us, with a lot of pity for the poor kids of divorced parent’s flying them all over the place on Christmas day.

It all made a little more sense to me then, my feeling of being pulled in two directions at once at Christmas. I spent some time letting myself feel the unfairness of it all.  I cried, because at the time I didn’t really realize at the time how much it sucked. To survive, I just sucked it up and buried it deep down inside . I had to let myself feel that pain before I could let go of it. Feeling an emotion is the only way you can be free of it.

Once I actually acknowledge just how much Christmas sucked for me growing up, I felt lighter. Up until that point, nothing I tried really let me enjoy Christmas for more than a few moments. Now I can start reframing Christmas on my terms. As an adult, in a new city, with a new family and friends of my own.

And you know what? My whole family was supportive of me starting new traditions. They know I love them, and that I’ll get to see them next week, to celebrate without the past hanging over my head. This year, I was able to stay in the present. To be present and enjoy Christmas on my own terms, with love and joy in my heart instead of old hurts  and sadness. I’m actually already looking forward to next year.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanine
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 05:39:27

    Merry Merry Merry Christmas Kacie!!! I teared up reading this post.

    Reply

  2. Kacie
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 08:26:52

    And a Happy Boxing day to you Jeanine.

    Reply

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