We survived the year without a Christmas and it is time to move on. I can’t say that it was easy. A lot of tears were shed and I hope that we never have to re-live another year like this again. Many traditions were set aside and there were no cards, no gifts and very little joy in our hearts. Just saying the words, “Merry Christmas” to people was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I had to remind myself that our troubles were not their issues and that I must force myself to project some level of happiness for those who were enjoying the season, although my heart was breaking.
Along with spending these past few months packing our house and preparing to move, we had many other things going on that just didn’t allow for us to celebrate Christmas this year. We lost our beloved dog and our finances were centered around moving to a cheaper apartment. There was simply no way that the holiday could be fit in. On Christmas Day, we were packing and moving for our third day in a row. We will still be moving for five more.
The one thing that this year has done for me is that it really opened my eyes to the craziness of the holiday season. I always knew how “commercialized” Christmas can get and I have certainly been a huge contributor to that in the years past when I was making a large salary. I always enjoyed the act of gift giving because it made ME feel good inside to see the huge smiles on the faces of my nephews or to know the joy I had brought to a family member when I found that one item that they had been longing for but would never splurge on for themselves. It was the one time of the year that I actually enjoyed shopping.
However, this year when I couldn’t do any shopping at all, I looked around at all the people rushing to stores, driving like maniacs, spending money on things that were likely to end up in a trash heap in the next six months and I began to wonder how much of it was truly necessary? Here I was, cleaning out piles and piles of unnecessary materialistic items from my apartment just so I could move at the least expense possible, with the pain of Chronic Lyme Disease making every fiber of my body scream out in agony during the process and I thought to myself, “Why do we accumulate so much junk?”
Sure…when I got some of this stuff as a gift, it probably put a smile on my face at the time but the question remains, “Did I ever use the item? Was it something that I actually needed for my every day life? How many times did I move it from apartment to apartment in its original packaging thinking that someday I might need it?” The truth is, I never needed it. After cleaning out my father’s apartment when he died unexpectedly, I swore that I would never be someone who would accumulate things. I never wanted someone to have to go through what happened to me when it took me an entire month to clean out that two bedroom apartment.
Our Christmas this year of “no gift giving” only further served to strengthen my view that Christmas should be for the children of the world. Sure, they should have the upbringing that I did. They should sit on Santa’s lap, they should hang up their stockings and wake up to a load of brightly wrapped presents under the tree in the morning, they should have all of those memories to carry into their adulthood. As far as how adults should spend the holiday though, I think that more thought should go into how we exchange presents.
I would like to see future Christmases where adults make gifts for their loved ones or do a special activity together. Maybe it would be nice if we gave the gift of our time and less of our money to each other then we would create wonderful Christmas memories with each other and I know for sure that we would accumulate less stuff in our apartments to sort through if we have to move! This Christmas was a real eye opener as to how much time I actually used to spend running around through November and December just preparing for one day, December 25th.
Like I said, this was a difficult year not celebrating Christmas at all. I came to the realization that it had nothing to do with the lack of cards, or gifts, or a tree, or any of the holiday trappings. It was so difficult simply because we were just so sad. Our hearts were broken at the loss of our home of eight years, the loss of our beloved pet, and the fact that every morning we woke up to a house filled with boxes of all our belongings waiting to be moved to a cheaper apartment which only served to remind us that our lives have drastically changed in the past three years since I became sick. No amount of Christmas Spirit could override the realities that we were facing. So, we stopped trying to pretend that we were happy.
We were blessed on December 23rd to have six dear friends show up with trucks, dollies, rolling carts and sheer muscle to help us move an enormous amount of our belongings and we can’t thank them enough. Two more friends showed up today to help again and we have more people coming throughout the rest of the week so we are very grateful that even though it is a busy holiday season, they took the time away from their families to lend us a hand. We couldn’t have gotten this far without them. They were our Christmas blessing this year.
Even though we got through the day today, the sadness lingers and it will take a long time to put aside the memories of this Christmas. I am not sure that we will ever fully forget how painful this year actually was for us. I suppose we have 364 days to rebuild our lives until we have to face it again. I hope we can get there and somehow find that Christmas Spirit by next year. I am just glad that this year is behind us.