I’ve been struggling for more than a week over my feelings about Christmas. I have not done the big family Christmas back in Minnesota since I moved abroad, and I know my family find this a bit strange. I would argue that someone would have to be insane to fly in or out of Minnesota in December voluntarily, but clearly many people do so that argument does not exactly carry a great deal of weight. It is a big change, because there was a time when I was the big Christmas kid. I loved Christmas well into adulthood and everyone knew it. I had a full service of Christmas dishes for 8 people. I had decorations. I had sweaters. I played the music incessantly. I decorated every available surface.

And then it stopped. I sort of know what happened. Christmas itself played a huge role in the break-up of my marriage. And at the time of that big meltdown, that was the same Christmas, 2000, when I had just dealt with the deaths of 3/4 of my beloved grandparents in a six month time-frame. The magic left that year and I’ve never gotten it back.

I try. I have an annual holiday party for my team at work, and I force myself to put up lights and to decorate a bit and to do a bit of Christmas-themed cooking or baking. I buy new Christmas music on iTunes every year and listen to it a bit. But I just cannot seem to recover the joy and happiness that the whole season used to bring me.

And I don’t try and force it any more. Christmas is mostly about the little ones, and I am resolutely child-free. The big family Christmas back at home would involve many of the offspring of my own generation of cousins, and I really don’t feel much up for that. I quite like being an adult and being at holiday meals that are more like posh dinner parties with nice wine and nice food. (I did cook my traditional from-scratch green bean casserole as usual, from fresh–not canned–green beans and with a home-made mushroom-cream sauce instead of mushroom soup from a can…) I feel mostly at peace with my “Bah, humbug” attitude towards the holidays and my choice to spend them away from Minnesota and largely ignoring the past when I was the Christmas kid. But I did have a good cry this week when I read this blog post about Christmas. At least I realized I was not the only one to be struggling to get through this week.

4 responses to “Scrooged

  1. I had many a good cries leading up to Christmas this year. The last one the Christmas Eve, whist driving home with “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” playing on my stereo on the way back home from buying the last of my last minute “Santa” gifts for my girls. I must be hormonal or something…and no I am not pregnant.

  2. Oh. What kind of a comment can I leave? Except to say I read this post, and it touched me, and I hope that there are other times of the year which make up for having lost your Christmas joy.

  3. I think Xmas is a hard time for a lot of people, expat or not. We had a great time in Colorado, but I bought my mother a web cam and my nephew hooked her up to Skype so we could all see each other. That was a bit hard – seeing my sibs and their families all having a lovely day together.
    Oh well.

  4. When I lived in California for 15 years and my family lives in Michigan, I had to give up travelling home at Christmas. I just had too many troubles flying back in the winter and went 5 years straight with the airlines losing my luggage.

    I developed my own traditions and had some great Christmas seasons, but Christmas Day was always awkward. Later when I moved back to Michigan myself, it still wasn’t “the same”, and I found that I had been missing something that wasn’t there.

    I also don’t have any kids of my own, and I think that makes a big difference. I don’t like buying lots of gifts, so I don’t get many gifts, which leaves me a bit empty handed on Christmas day and although I do enjoy watching my niece and nephews opening their gifts, they’re getting older, and there isn’t that Christmas “awe” that used to be there, so it’s just not the same.

    One thing that really makes it Christmasy for me is that on Thanksgiving weekend I put up the outside Christmas lights, and during the week, I put up a Christmas tree. Makes a big difference for me. Do you have Christmas trees in England? I think that having something in the home that reminds me of Christmas when I walk in the door really helps. We also have a couple of radio stations that play only Christmas music from Thanksgiving on, so I listen to that somewhat, too.

    I hope you have a great 2011.

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