For the first time in my 31 years, I’m having Christmas for two. I won’t be at the extended family lunch at the holiday house, and I won’t be joining my parents for dinner. I won’t be visiting any of Jason’s family and I won’t be spending it with friends. I won’t have Christmas morning with my step-children and I won’t wake up to presents and craziness. This Christmas is Jason and me. And Carlin.
It’s hard to articulate what exactly it is about Christmas that makes me want to pretend that I’m not home. I know this time of year is about family, children laughing, loved ones getting together, and I don’t feel like any of those things. I know that I had imagined this Christmas with a baby in my arms. But none of that seems to describe it. That isn’t enough to explain this longing feeling; someone is missing. That someone will always be missing. They will never leave out carrots for reindeer or write to Santa. They will never wake us with bursting excitement to open presents. They will never spend holidays playing with their cousins, jump at New Year fireworks or learn to swim in the sea. Carlin.
All week I’ve had Christmas carols blaring and my heart is torn. They are my favourite part of Christmas and I love them. But they sing of babies being born, children playing, everyone coming together, and it’s hard. When you go out people ask what you’re doing for Christmas, and “My baby died so probably nothing” is a conversation killer. There are signs telling you to have ‘happy holidays’ and to ‘enjoy the holiday season’. But what if that’s not where I’m at. There’s an immense pressure to conform to the joyful, grateful, big expectations of Christmas. But I’m here, with Carlin.
So we made a decision. We let everyone know that this year we weren’t up to socialising. The smiling and the laughing on cue were too hard. The answering of questions and the chit chat, and the playing with other people’s children, were tasks we simply didn’t have energy for. We went ahead and sent the kids to their mother’s as planned, even though we know it may feel empty in the morning, and bought some groceries so we won’t have to leave the house for days. And then we found ourselves lying in bed, daydreaming about this Christmas, and Carlin.
This may be the only Christmas that we share as just the two (three) of us. Every year prior has involved Jason’s children, and the future may combine them with another baby of our own. This is special. This is to be treasured. Christmas is about making memories and being with the ones you love and this year is no different. There is no one I love more than Jason, no place I would rather be than our home, and nothing that I would rather be eating or drinking than the Tofurkey roast that I have to remember to defrost today and that one cider that will have me giggling in my chair. It’s forecast to be 37 degrees and our house has already succumb to the heat wave. Perhaps we’ll spend Christmas in our underwear. Jason may be persuaded to sing my all time favourite carols with me and I’ll likely be found dancing with the dogs while I build the chocolate creation requested for dessert. We’ll be able to laugh and play and cry, as we will be able to be how we are and feel how we feel. For that day, that very special day, it will be me, Jason, and Carlin. And I suspect, that despite the year that has been and the challenges that are to come, it will actually be a very, merry, Christmas.