Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Meme / Christmas Funk

This will NOT be the meme I had intended.

My blogger pal Jaquandor is always good for a meme. He put up a fun Christmas meme on his blog and I thought I'd post my own version here. After all, he says he tags EVERYBODY and that includes me, right?

I made several attempts at putting in my answers. However, each time I tried, it would just complicate my already swirling funk.

First question: Favorite traditional Christmas song:Sure, I could just name off a few songs. I DO like some of 'em. "Do You See What I See" comes to mind. But the very thought of Christmas music also brings me precariously close to the mental / emotional turmoil I've been avoiding.

Dec 16 was the anniversary of my father's death. In a few days (Dec 21) will be the anniversary of my mother's. They both died suddenly and unexpectedly (him of heart failure while asleep in bed, her during a heart bypass surgery that was supposed to be serious but routine) in 1983. Granted, that was a long time ago. But as anyone who has lost people close to them knows, the years can telescope on you in a heartbeat, bringing distant losses rushing back to feel like present wounds.

My parents had divorced when I was about 13, lived in different towns, both had remarried and hadn't spoken to each other for several years. But they dropped dead with no warning in the very same week when I was just 26. Their deaths collided with the Christmas season, wrapping all the emotions of grief and loss around every tinsel, every cookie, every tune.

Mostly I've dealt with the bereavement as much as can be expected. Face it, true grief is not like a cold that you can get over. It's more like an amputation - something that changes you forever. You accommodate it and learn to move forward in the new reality, but it never goes back to how it used to be. So, in that sense, I have come to terms with it. But every Christmas season there are so many reminders of the wound...the sights, the sounds, the smells all haunt me. Every fa la la la la brings up images of my mother's dead face in her casket. Every freaking time I hear a Salvation Army bell ringer I get mini-flashes of my father - pictures in my brain I DO NOT WANT.

This is all the more crazy making because I did NOT have good relations with my parents. So much anger and guilt, hurt feelings and trapped love were tangled up with shame and longing in those relationships. Somehow I used to believe that EVENTUALLY we'd resolve some of the ugliness and learn to be more honest and supportive of one another, the way I believed families were SUPPOSED to be. Truth is, had they lived to be the age of Methuselah I doubt we ever could have repaired the breach. Our family was so fractured by so many things...all the kings horses and all the kings men could never have put those relationships together again. But as long as they were alive I still had the hope that someday MAYBE it could be made right. Now it never can.

So all I am left with is something like the smell of a campfire that has been doused with water...burned out, muddy mess...cold, offering no solace.

Christmas can be a tough time for me. I have my good days where I get pretty close to being able to feel the joy of the season. And I have my bad days where it is all one excruciating nightmare. Paying focused attention to the specific triggers of Christmas just doesn't seem in my best interest right now. So I think I'll pass.

Over on Waters of Mormon, one of the other blogs I contribute to, Starfoxy came up with this to say about the Christmas season:

"In the past I've taken cues from my parents and bemoaned the commercialization of Christmas. I've lamented how quickly the birth of Christ is forgotten among the gifts and festivities.

These days, however, I'm seriously considering cutting my losses and completely separating my recognition of Christ's birth from the midwinter celebrations.

December is an intense month. There are various holidays, traditions, and parties to attend to. For the students there are midterms, or final exams. For the employed there are year end reports, filings, and meetings. There are preparations for next year to take into account. The weather frequently turns difficult. Most people travel to spend time with family. At the end of the month many find themselves physically and emotionally exhausted. And amongst all of that we're supposed to find time for meaningful reflection on Christ's birth, life and resurrection. I can't muster up and surprise that it all too frequently just doesn't happen.

So why not just buckle down and make it happen? Why not make time for that meaningful reflection. Why can't I ditch the parties? Why shouldn't I spend hours training my kids to understand that Santa and rudolf weren't at the stable? Why can't I just push, shove, pull, wrangle, wrestle and cajole my family into feeling the peace, joy and comfort of contemplating the Condescension of God?

Here's my reasoning- Santa, Rudolf, Christmas Trees, gifts, and parties are going hold my kid's attention no matter what I do. They're going to hear it at school, from their friends, in the stores, and on TV. People will demand my attention work and service whether they should or not. I will feel stress, and fatigue. My children will probably be like me- itching to open presents so bad that they can barely sit still long enough to listen to the first half of Luke 2. Why even try to pair the love of Christ with the clamor of modern day Christmases and hope that I can shout louder than everyone else?

Instead I plan for Christmas becomes a time for parties, togetherness, gifts, service, and sharing. And then on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th, or the day of Epiphany I will, quietly, peacefully and deliberately celebrate the birth and childhood of Christ. After the decorations are put away, the presents have lost some of their sparkle, and just before things get back to normal I will put aside time to teach my children about the miracle of Christ's birth."

As I responded to her there, I have misgivings about capitulating to the mayhem.
The only thing that I can hang on to that is GOOD about Christmas is my focus on the Savior. That part still sustains me. It's all the rest of it that I want to hide my head in the sand and run away from.


Mimi said...

You never get over it, I don't think. hugs to you and may your parent's Memories be Eternal.

Jen said...


It's hard, I know.

I love the Christmas season right until about a week before (now) and I find myself utterly burned out and ready to scrap the whole thing.

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