In six years of blogging, I've only written two posts about Christmas. One post from 2010 featured our outdoor crib, or creche as they call it in the US (which initially made me kind of nervous. It sounded like the kind of place where people would drop their kids off.) It had gotten damaged in storms in previous years, but last year was a catastrophe! The Holy Family just couldn't bounce back from that, and so we gave up.
It seems we're not the only ones to give up on the Holy Family. It says a lot about a society where Christians have decided to replace the image of the Holy Family on their Christmas cards with images of themselves. So it did make me happy to receive one card with the Baby Jesus on it. My aunts are pretty great about
A) sending me cards (especially when I've stopped sending them) and
B) sending me nativity scenes - my favorite Christmas image.
main items on the news here last night reported on how a school trip to a coffee shop in San Jose to see Santa was cancelled because a person who was Non-Christian objected to the trip. What the heck is Santa doing hanging out in a coffee shop in San Jose anyways?
I urge you to read the news item yourselves, not least because I may misrepresent it because I'm self-admittedly bitter and twisted about Christmas, but I believe that it comes down to this:
1) How educational was the trip? Was it really a great learning experience? Perhaps - if those children don't often experience coffee-shop culture in San Jose!
2) If the mom who opposed it, did so because all religions were not included, then I disagree with her principle. Santa is NOT a religion! He may be derived from a Christian Saint - St. Nicholas, but more often he's a marketing tool for the retail trade (authors included!) If she's speaking culturally, she may have a point, but then wouldn't it be MORE important for her child to take part and learn about other cultures?
3) Is the parent who is staging a walk-out really a good example to her children in this season of goodwill? Is that what Jesus would have wanted?
4) What happened to "They will know we are Christians by our love"? Now it seems to be "They will know we are Christians by the amount of lights we have on our houses, the size of our Christmas trees, the amount of presents we exchange and how much food and drink we can consume."
For people who are not Christian, I don't blame them for not wanting to be wished a Happy Christmas - though I've never actually experienced a Non-Christian object to the well meaning wish. My Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan and atheist friends seem to be happy to receive my Happy Christmas greeting. It's the other Christians who seem to have issue with it!
For me, it sums up how ridiculous the whole Christmas/Holidays debacle now is - especially here in the USA.
The other Christmas blog I wrote was posted in 2011 - It's title was taken from a Gone With The Wind quote that I love - "The best days are when babies come."
I remember writing that with a heart full of hope that the following Christmas I'd be blogging about Santa coming to my baby.
But Santa didn't come, nor will he ever.
By the end of 2012, I'd learned two things.
I'd never have children and I'd never have the Christmas I'd always dreamed off.
And so I began to hate Christmas...
I hate getting the cards with other people's children on them, reminding me of my repeated failure to have my own. (So forgive me if my comments above have offended you - now hopefully you have a better understanding of where I'm coming from.)
I hate the tree with presents under it for grown-ups, presents we neither wanted nor needed.
I hate buying presents in a society that has an excess of everything, in stark contrast to a world were the majority suffer from not having enough.
I hate unwrapping presents and contributing to waste and landfill.
I hate pretending to be happy at parties.
I hate those "What are you doing for Christmas conversations?" that feel like an admission of more failure as a woman, because I didn't want to spend the whole damn day cooking.
I hate going to Mass because the carols make me cry. (Even though I really love them.)
I hate missing my family back home, but feel they are better off without me dragging them down with my gloom. (Even though my sister is wonderful and really understands me.)
I hate missing my Dad and knowing I'll never laugh with him again.
I hate Santa Claus and his fat jolly ho-fucking-hos!
I hate myself for my whole gratitude fail. My life is great, when I'm not wallowing in self pity.
I hate the look on my Husbands face, because he knows I'm sad, and he feels like he can't make me happy.
But he does make me happy...
In this whole cauldron of hate, he is my flotation device, the person that stops me from giving up and allowing myself to sink into it. He is the person who understands how painful and empty Christmas is for me, and who doesn't judge me for it.
I wrestled with the decision to write this soul-baring post, mostly because discussing infertility is so taboo. To not have children raises so many questions from those who have. I do feel sorry for the mother who inadvertently asks me "How many kids do you have?"
The only reason I don't discuss my infertility more openly is because the world doesn't want to know. I've seen women flinch when I have brought it up (I rarely bring it up with men at all). I've actually heard women gasp (in a "Did she just say that?" sense) when I've talked openly about it. I think it's because they believe it is inappropriate for me to mention that I wanted children I could never have - how dare I bring the conversation down to such a sad level.
Yet, I've sat through many conversations where the opening sentence has been, "If you had children, you'd know...." and bitten my tongue and swallowed back words that I still don't know if I should be writing...even on my own blog, on a subject of my choosing...
Oh, yes, Christmas... Wow! Two taboos at once - dissing Christmas and discussing infertility - I really am the Grinch.
This year I'm not putting up decorations or a tree. Our lemon tree looks beautiful at the moment - the lemons look like baubles. So I'm making do with that.
Before I sign off, I'd just like to say this Christmas think about the people who don't have it all -
the people who, for whatever reason, don't have their family around the tree on Christmas Day,
the people who feel as if Christmas opens a hole in their heart so big it swallows you up and spits you out
the people who have no homes
the people who have no love
the people who will cry this year
the people who mourn their loved ones
the people at the bottom of a bottle and their loved ones who watch and grieve for them
the people who may know this is their last Christmas (as I write this I remember being with my Daddy facing that realization on 25 December 2007)
the people who have lost hope
the people suffering war
the people who hate (even if only for a little while, as in my case)
Because when we hate, we lose ourselves, and that might be what hurts me most at Christmas.
So I won't wish you a Merry Christmas... I'll wish you hope and happiness for everyday of the year because life is a struggle for everyone at sometime. We just don't always see the hurts of another person. Most days of the year, I try to acknowledge that I'm happy with my life - but today - with Christmas just around the corner, well ... ya know...