Advent was something I had only heard at church. I was raised going to a Methodist church and converted to Catholicism so that my future husband’s mother would come to the wedding. Yes, she made it clear she would not be there if I didn’t take the leap so I lept.
Advent described as the lead up to something. In the religious realm, the birth of Christ. Most of that was lost in my family growing up. Mom wanted us to have a base of religion and Dad only went to church on the holidays he felt he needed to and that stopped when we were old enough not to care if he was there. Religion has always been a weird and awkward place for me. Because I have the base that Mom wanted me to have, I have faith. These days I’m just not sure what it is I have faith in. So we will leave that alone for another post after I’ve had some wine or whiskey.
Advent. The leading up to something. Let’s take the religion out of it and just talk about Christmas. Everyone is always so excited about Christmas. The shopping and the decorations and gift-giving. I use to be right in there with the best of them. I always did my Dad’s shopping for him so I enjoyed spending his money to get Mom the best gifts ever. When opening gifts on Christmas morning I would always wink at him when I was something he gave her. Mom knew, but it was a fun little joke we had.
I would shop and I got excited about getting the perfect gift. I loved wrapping and making things pretty. It gave me joy to give gifts to others and see their excitement. I am not sure when things changed. My first dad passed away in 1992 and of course that had an impact made Christmas a little sad. I tried to keep it light for the family but I knew it would forever be different.
There was something before that though. Something I was missing. I had these dreams of Christmas being this romantic time of year. It was supposed to be fun and exciting and there should be love that was felt deeply. It was never that for me. I tried but something was always different. Maybe it seemed forced? Maybe I tried to hard to make it this romantic thing. My ex-husband got me a bodyweight scale for a gift one year. That wasn’t romantic and not the only reason he is an ex-husband but maybe a little bit.
I still kept thinking that it would be romantic, someday. Someday I would feel all the feels. I would kiss under the mistletoe and make love on the floor by the light of the Christmas tree with a fire in the fireplace and Christmas music in the background. Welp! Here we are at the age of 50 something and single. So, one more time, not this year.
Even without the romance and partially giving up on that, I miss the large family gatherings and the craziness that most complain about. I think you complain about driving and visiting and hassle until you don’t have to do it and then you realize how important those times were. The screaming young ones because they are overwhelmed, the teenagers that won’t put the phone down and the grown-ups that talk politics and complain about the world while their world is right there in front of them to enjoy.
Christmas’ with my ex-Dom was always any day but Christmas. He didn’t believe in gift-giving and even if I did, which I did every year, he usually had to lie about where it came from if it was too sentimental. The guy I’m FWB with is wonderful and I wanted to do something nice for him. I made him something that I knew would mean a lot to him. Again, he can’t take it home unless he lies about where it came from. Merry Christmas and fuck you all at the same time.
The biggest issue I have now, during these Advent weeks, removing religion and romance is this. The day after Christmas 2014 was the day my daughter told me she was addicted to heroin. We have been through a ton of shit since then and I look at her now and thank the universe she is alive to enjoy another Christmas. I am thankful for that. I don’t blame her but Christmas will never be the same for me again. I get my mind right and know that we are lucky we still have each other but I’ll never forget December 26, 2014. Ever.
Advent at Christmas isn’t religious for me anymore. It isn’t fun and romantic for me anymore. It is a time period I just can’t wait to get through and move on. For me, it truly is just another day and one that I really wish I could step away from. But, then there is Mom.
Mom was raised in West Virginia, USA. To say the family was poor is an understatement. Truly, they never had Christmas growing up. If there was enough money, they each got an orange in a sock that was placed at the end of their beds. That was it. She had no Advent back in those days. When Mom had my sister and me she swore we would have a different Christmas than she did. She didn’t disappoint. We never wanted for anything, not only at Christmas but all year round. We may not have gotten the name brand things at Christmas but we always had gifts under the tree and stockings full of stuff. There was usually an orange in there that it would take years for us to understand.
This is the second year without my second father. Last year was pretty miserable. Thankfully my daughter had moved home by then and she and her girlfriend were here to lighten things a bit. I bought everyone matching hoodies to start a new tradition. We ate and opened gifts and then the girls went to my daughter’s father’s house. Mom and I were left alone and it was sad, but again, I did my best to keep it light. We went for a walk and then back to her apartment where she was alone in a decorated house without him for the first year.
This year, Christmas is at her house. She decorated alone again and seems to be looking forward to us coming over. It will just be my daughter and my Mom and myself. A small gathering after years of having at least 10 people to trip over. My stepdad won’t be there to annoy us with pictures, camera around his neck the whole day because he wanted to capture the happiness we all shared.
I know there is the “spirit of Christmas” but I can’t find it anymore. I fake it for Mom, but I’m pretty sure she isn’t feeling it either. We try. We fake it. We shop and we do our own version of preparation, buying gifts that matter and mean something and some that are just silly because we have to find the smiles somewhere.
It is sad. Very sad. So I hope that everyone handles the Advent to their holiday with families and overcrowded houses, cranky kids and annoying relatives as if it will be the last one of its kind. Times change, people come and go, good things happen and sad things happen. Make the best of the celebrations you have.
However you all celebrate, I hope you have love and romance and spirituality, whatever you want and wish for.