Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dreading the Holidays No Longer

It's 6:15 a.m. I'm the only one up, ostensibly to prepare for church this morning, but there's actually not much I can do here at home. I'm already showered and ready to go; I'll just leave a little early and have plenty of time to do what I need to do before services.

I love it when the house is quiet like this and I'm the only one awake. Especially when the house is full, like it is now. My inlaws are asleep in Lovely Passionate Feminist's room. LPF is upstairs in the loft, taking Beautiful Genuine Musician's bed (BGM had to work in City to the South most of this weekend), D is sound asleep in our room, and Hobbes, who awoke and meowed loudly when I went into the kitchen, has settled back down, thank goodness.

Yesterday afternoon, D brought the Christmas tree down from the attic, and my MIL began the tedious task of opening up all the squished branches. She did a great job. We have about 10 boxes of Christmas decorations, so I tackled those. As I opened each box, the memories flooded, of course. Ah, the three wise men, given to me as a gift from someone in my last church....Oh, my little mouse all dressed in Christmas red. He's been with me every Christmas for over 20 years. Tattered, he remembers, with me, the lonely years when I was single.

I dreaded the holidays when I was single. There were a few years in which I was so in love with God and able to feel God's loving presence that the holidays were wonderful, and I came through them with a heart light and free. But those years were the exception.
Most years, I just truly dreaded the holiday season.... Being alone.... Feeling left out and odd, not having a family like the rest of the WHOLE WORLD. :-) .... Accepting invitations from folks, my extended family of aunts and uncles, who felt sorry for me. Occasionally my single friends and I would plan something; being with them was good, but most years they felt obligated to their families, so I was left with few options. In the early years after my mother died I would fly out to visit my sister and her family. I knew they honestly wanted me there and loved me, which helped so very much, but all four of them smoke, which made my delight at being there also pretty miserable. After I left my cushy job and went to seminary, I had no money for airfare, so that stopped, and I ended up trudging over to the aunts and uncles and feeling like a third wheel. My fault, not theirs, of course.

After D and I married in 2004, I no longer dreaded the holidays, although it did take me a couple of years to feel completely comfortable with his children. Should I introduce my own way of doing things?--traditions of decorating the whole house--not just a tree, sausage balls, putting lots of time and effort into wrapping the presents, etc. They had their own traditions, of course, so it's taken some time to integrate and to create our own memories.

Now, though, things are different. I feel wholely comfortable. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to go ahead and decorate the house! And my MIL joined in and even suggested that we put on some Christmas music. She and Lovely Passionate Feminist went out to buy The Three Tenors singing Christmas songs. Oh, it was glorious! And FUN! I boiled some oranges, lemons, and LOTS of cinnamon on the stove, and the scent of Christmas filled the house.

Then Young Man with Integrity and his family came over for dinner. When a 2-year-old's around, it's automatically FUN! I brought out our two boxes of ornaments and she, LPF and J took to it! The tree looks fabulous! D grilled outside, and we feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers, and nearly finished the yummy chocolate cake, courtesty of my MIL who flew with it here from Georgia!
I sat at the piano and LPF sang some Christmas carols for us; she has a beautiful soprano voice. I love hearing her sing. Of course, little M was playing along with me, so it was LPF's voice that we all strove to hear, not the piano playing! Later on, little M and I danced and twirled and got dangerously dizzy!


After Young Man with Integrity and his family went home, things calmed down quite a bit. We sat in the living room, still with the music playing....my FIL went to bed, but D and his mother read their books, LPF worked some puzzles, and I colored my mandalas. Then D went to bed, and my MIL, Lovely Passionate Feminist and I lit the candles, turned out all the other lights except the Christmas tree, and just enjoyed the beauty of it all.

I love the holidays.

And I hold a special place in the my heart for those who are single, and who, like me all those awful lonely years, are wishing for a family. May you very soon find someone to love and who loves you in return, and in the meantime, may you feel God's loving presence holding you close.

I hear my inlaws stirring, getting ready for the day....guess it's time for church.

(cartoon from Google Images)

9 comments:

Purple said...

I love decorating for Christmas. Many of my favorite angels and merry makings are (and have been) in storage since I went to seminary. I look forward to having them again.

I understand what you write about being single. Married friends are just that...married. And, yes I was invited and for the most part it felt OK. I "hung out" with 4 married couples...so our number when we ate out etc was always 9.

Growing up our family really played together very well. But life happened, and several of those ties are very strained and holidays strain them even more. So, I have come to accept that at holidays my family just does not do this well. But, I am so thankful for the ties you have with your family; the love and joy which radiated through your post.

Blessings this Advent.

Jan said...

Katherine, your story of learning to enjoy the holidays is so warm and understandable. (real) I always like seeing pictures of your family. It is joyous to read of your happiness in an extended family.

Mary Beth said...

This is just lovely, and I thank you for it. I was single for a lot of years and I know how you mean. Glad you are comfortable, integrated, family.

Mary Beth said...

This is just lovely, and I thank you for it. I was single for a lot of years and I know how you mean. Glad you are comfortable, integrated, family.

RJ said...

Thank, Katherine, for today's reflection on family and feelings. My oldest daught once said, shortly before I was divorced so long ago, "that the thing I love at the holidays is the safety of being with my family." Then the other shoe fell... and all hell broke loose for us all. Nearly 15 years later, our new blended family (of about 12 years) have created new family times that are just as rich and safe as the old ones. And while the daughters are now grown and married on their own, it is still a sweet and full time. Blessings to you as you mature into this Advent.

mompriest said...

We did much the same today....albeit with out our children...one of whom lives too far away and the other who is, well, a teeneager and not "in to" family things (for now, that will change....)...sounds like a really delightful holiday for you...

Jennifer said...

I remember the feelings you describe, both as a single person and with a full house.
I am grateful to have had both experiences.

INTPanentheist said...

I haven't had any Christmases single (without children) as an adult, but I did have one where my daughter and I tagged along with a guy in the unit and his family. It was very kind of them, and made something decent out what could have been a truly miserable holiday (that was the hardest year of my life, I think), but it was still lonely in every way that mattered. It really does help when you have someone in your life to share it with rather than participating from what feels like the outskirts.

And I'm looking forward to my first Christmas physically with The Boyfriend. We really are a family - that's something he'll look at me sometimes and say, and he'll look awed at the concept. I have to say that I am, too. It's a nice feeling.

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