Annual Melancholy

Every year I fight to find some Christmas spirit. My holiday is Halloween. Love it, decorate way early for it, watch all the movies, play all the music and this past year even took my daughter on a combined birthday trip to Disneyland to experience the Halloween Haunted Mansion/park experience. It was so much fun!

When Christmas rolls around, however, I always find myself kind of glum and appreciating all the pretty neighborhood lights and decorations, but not really feeling any of it. Getting all the crap out, the tree up, the tree set up arguing with the husband, the fight to have everyone participate with the ornaments, the kids constant running “I want” list… it just doesn’t feel very festive and fun. I usually force myself to do something festive that will sort of shove holiday spirit in my face and down my throat for a distraction. Nothing has quite worked yet. Last year I did a craft fair where I worked like mad for weeks to prepare, and then sat at a table all day to sell one stinking wreath. It’s one of those crafts that apparently turns out far more interesting in your own head than in other people’s eyes.

This year I took on the job of holiday party coordinator for the volunteers at the parrot sanctuary. I have never planned a party like this before. Sure, I was in HR a million years ago B.K., (before kids) but that was a work requirement. I had all the budget and payment information and we had a Rolodex (look it up, millenials) of vendors to choose from.

Notsomuch now. Now it’s just me in this new city trying to figure out how to accommodate an ever changing number of attendees and diet requirements and budget parameters. I am not a phone call person. I am not organized. I don’t like getting quotes and asking questions to live people on the other end of a phone. (obviously HR was not my true calling) I didn’t so much mind the venue search, and I am enjoying the decoration planning and fun party stuff, but the catering stuff has given me a stress rash. I have asked for help, but it seems this is not a task anyone is particularly fond of. I am going to do my best and that will have to be that. If anyone complains, I will have a volunteer sign up sheet for next year…. and maybe a special finger ornament they can put on their tree. Humbug!

I was talking to my chiropractor yesterday after the post-robotics-tournament all day bleacher/camping chair sitting adjustment and he told me the body remembers trauma. A person can have a sudden injury, deal with it, eventually heal, but the body remembers that trauma.

As I was considering the time of year today and getting sick of myself and my mood, it occurred to me that maybe this feeling of mine goes all the way back to my dad’s death. It was traumatic. It was isolating. It was lonely and sad and all of the terrible things death brings. It was 16 years ago, but the impending day, the ghosts of all of that sadness and loss may be masquerading as Scrooge-itis. It’s hard to start December off with jolly happy feels when December 9th, 2001 began with a 5:30am phone call and a spiral of sorrow for days and days and days after. Just connecting the two thoughts brought me to tears today as I was driving on icy roads back home from errands.

At the time of my dad’s death, our family was not united in any way. I suppose some families come together to deal with it and help each other as a unit. Ours literally went to separate corners and wallowed and processed apart from each other. I didn’t get to do this completely, as I was the only one willing to help my stepmother get through the planning and logistics of losing someone. I was 25 and having to write an obituary for my father, planning casket logistics for someone who didn’t fit in a regular casket. I was helping my stepmother break the news to her family and his family. I also had strep throat at the time, which made consoling pretty complicated.

The good news is eventually the Christmas excitement kicks in. It’s usually not until Christmas eve when I’m wrapping gifts and fretting over how many gifts is too many and alternately hoping everyone has enough to feel special, but at least I get there.

For anyone who has dealt with a loss, I am so sorry. For anyone reading this who has lost a loved one around a holiday, I am greatly sorry. There is never a good season to lose someone you love, but holidays can certainly leave an impression. I suppose we should cut ourselves some slack and leave a little room to grieve and remember so we can move on. Maybe don’t stretch yourself too thin and nominate yourself for ridiculously complicated tasks! (note to self)


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