The holiday season, from Halloween thru mid Janruary, has always been a favorite time of year. It’s so magical and people are more kind and gentle. More patient and generous. The world around always seems more hopeful and merry, even in light of recent world events.
When the kids were little, we spent much time picking and creating the perfect costume, filling treat bags for all the trick-or-treaters, decorating the house and yard.
Thanksgiving roles around and I host a typically large guest list of family, typically upwards of 20. I go all out and spend days preparing our Thanksgiving feast, and delight at spending the time with our families..
Then Christmas… We’ve always put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and it typically stays up thru the first week of Janruary. Our tradition, with a few exceptions, has been to go chop our own tree with my Dad and step-mother. We tromp thru the tree fields until we all agree on the perfect tree, cut it down and then we sit and have cocoa and donuts before hauling it home. In past years we polish off any Thanksgiving leftovers once we get home, and then it’s full blown decorating mode! I’ve fondly referred to day as our Christmas Tree Day.
December always seems to rush by with all the Christmas festivities; family gatherings, open houses, decorating, baking, shopping and wrapping…toss in a few Dance competitions and hockey tournaments and it makes for a crazy busy month… all leading up to the actual holiday, Christmas, and the vacation that follows.
Last year, at this time I was still reeling from the chaos and destruction from finding out about my husband’s affair. I was a complete and utter mess. I wasn’t prepared for the holiday season, and mostly faked, fumbled and cried my way thru.
Halloween, less than 4 weeks post-dday. I’m sure I gave out candy. I don’t remember what my kids did. I’m sure I can look back at pictures and posts and figure it out, but mostly it’s a big blank.
Thanksgiving, just 7 weeks post-dday, I had my parents and brothers’ family. Very small and mostly bearable. My parents knew and I was able to pull thru the day.
I was feeling a bit more ease, safer; I’d just finished a series of emails with the other woman, and for the time felt less threatened by her. I was, and sometimes still am, overwhelmed to realize that she had always been in our life, MY life. But I was and still am confidant that she’s not a threat currently. I do have my doubts as our kids get older. The last email she sent my husband, and one of the very few that I actually read, said something to the effect of just that.. Putting old flames on the “back-burner” until the kids are grown... husband has tried to assure me that he has no idea why she sent that email, that she was never a threat and it was just sex, that she meant nothing, and he has never had any intention of leaving me. Sometimes I believe him, but that email haunts me. And then there’s the fact that he betrayed me, had a affair that spans his life since Junior high, spans our entire marriage, with large gaps of time, years even, without any contact, they both insist… but I have my doubts.
Since those emails, I do believe there’s been no contact between them. There are days when I have my doubts, but I’ve long since given up on checking (it’s just too fucking exhausting; if he’s going to cheat again, he’ll find a way… No amount of me searching and spying can prevent him from cheating.) Again.
I’ve been in a totally new trigger field the past few weeks, and doing mostly okay navigating them. But I’ll leave that for another post. This post is NOT about her.
Christmas. December 2014. Mostly went by in a blur. I cried my way thru the month and wanted nothing to do with it. Honestly, I wanted to crawl into a hole and lick my wounds, disappear from the surreal and hellish life that had taken over the content life I had been living. However, with 3 busy kids and big extended families, this mom continued to fake my way thru…
But the daily emotional turmoil was exhausting. It was December 2013 that the intensity of thier affair became sexual (again); it was from then until dday, 10/3/14, that I could see the thousands of texts and dozens of emails. And I was hauling myself thru hell looking the number of texts they exchanged on a particular day and looking back to see I was doing that same time and date (besides being made fucking fool.) generally I was contentedly going about my days.
… as he was having his affair…
So we skipped Christmas tree day last year. We bought our tree a a local greenhouse, but had I had to be reminded. Again, last year was such a blur with a lot of blanks. The tree got decorated. And the house got decorated some. But not my typical fair. Most of my shopping was online. For the most part I stuck with the lists to Santa, that I still request of my kids! It was safe, easy (I didn’t have to leave my house) and they were delighted on Christmas morning, but there were few surprises last year.
Christmas Eve, I was on call. It allowed an easy excuse to not go to my Sister-in-law L***’s open house. It was all my husband’s family (he’s one of 8) and only his sister C*** and her long term boyfriend know. Inknewni wouldn’t be able to get thru an afternoon of hearing how wonderful my husband is and how lucky I am. He is still their golden child.
Christmas morning, again a blur.. I kept tissues close at hand and didn’t take many pictures.My parents were with us, for presents and followed by a festive brunch. Then they move on to my 2 brothers families and more Christmas festivities.
Traditionally, I host a Christmas open house and buffet with my husband’s family. It’s also open for our friends and neighbors. I make dozens of cookies, in 10-12 varieties and pounds candies, fudges and confections to gift and share.
I don’t remember most of what I did last year. I baked some, and made fudge. After my parents left we got ready to go to C***’s house for Christmas dinner with my husband’s family. I had told her about the affair. I asked her to host, as I just couldn’t get it together enough to do it.
The holiday season of 2014 will mostly remain a blur. I dont feel the need to remember it.
This holiday season, I’ve made it a point to be mindful. Honestly, I’d be happy if it were spring already, but I don’t want to rush time. I just haven’t found much holiday spirit yet. I am finding moments of joy. I’m even purposely creating them…
I’ve found my thoughts and mindset are very much focused on the fact that my son is a senior. That this time next year he will be away at college and how my role as a mother is rapidly changing. How our family dynamics are going to change. I want to be present with my son and daughters and remember this Christmas season warmly and fondl. When I reflect next year.
So, in the best holiday spirit I could muster, my husband and I along with all 3 kids and my parents went to find our Christmas tree yesterday. It was a feat to just get all of us together, but I made it happen, just a week later than our normal Christmas tree day. We found our tree, cut it down, shared cocoa and donuts. And now it’s well on its way to being beautifully decorated. I have all my holiday decorations waiting to deck the halls and I’m determined to find some joy.
The hardest part is over, the tree ornaments. Each of mine tell a story. There’s a weary and fragile glass ornament that was on my grandmothers’ tree when she was a young girl.. It’s over 70 years old. All the baby’s first, second, third etc. ornaments, the mom and dad, son and daughter dated yearly ornaments. The Disney and vacation ornaments. Ornaments from my travels when in the Air Force. My most cherished ones, those sweet little cinnamon-glue and glitter gingerbread and popsicle stick ornaments, with their picture glued on, hand-made with the tender loving hearts of my children. They still adorn my tree and they are my favorites. The mile-stone ornaments , character ornaments, the initial and personalized ornaments. Each and every one of them has a memory attached. I didn’t mention the all ornaments that represent my love for my husband thru the our 18 years, the Ten-year “old tin bell” ornament, nor will I mention the memory each one evokes. Like all my ornaments. This year, just like last I’ve left them in their boxes. Maybe next year…
I’ve organized my sons’ senior portraits and my daughters’ school pictures for traditional grandparent and aunt/uncle gifts, and have some of the frames purchased. I’m not even sure I gave pictures out last year. I also arranged a professional photographer to have pictures done of my 3 kids together. Last year I will have all 3 in my nest… I’m still very anxiously waiting to see how they come out! And bonus for me, my husband doesn’t know. So I have a loving, heartfelt gift for him. Last year I filled his stocking last minute, and mostly from a well-known drug store and local chocolatier. Nothing personal. Otherwise, I don’t think I got him anything. There were no ornaments purchased. Not even for my kids, as I discovered and my youngest reminded me, as we decorated the tree last evening. I’ve already purchase a few for this year…
I’m trying to be mindful and enjoying the little moments of real joy, or something that feels like joy used to feel. I’m feeling longer periods of “mostly comfortable with intermittent, mild to moderate triggers, and rarely one more serious. Occasional sadness but not depression, frequent mild anxiety and still often, just emotionally numb”
But when I stay mindful…
So now, I’m off to search for holiday spirit. I’m hosting our traditional family gatherings for Christmas Day. Mostly for my son, and my girls. I will cherish all the time with him and them as I’m so aware my days are too few. I’ve got decorating to do (several day project) and a cookie-candy-fudge list to make.
I hope you are all able to find some peace, comfort and joy or something like it, this Christmas holiday season.
This my son cutting down our tree. It was nearly 50 degrees and still no snow. Very unusual for this time of year in these here parts!