on holidays.

"As a child, Christmas seems less like a holiday and more like some invincible force of happy.  Of warmth and of light.  Of stockings hanging from mantles and picturesque fog on windows.  Of course, there are still some grown-ups who feel this way, and I can never decide if I think they're lucky or naive or both.

But the truth about Christmas is that it's just as capable of being spoiled as any other day of the year.  There is no great fortress around it. It has no superpowers.

The day I became privy to this was the day I found Josephina underneath the tree.  My American Girl doll.  Brushable hair and the kind of eyes and that closed and shut.  Flawless.  I remember holding her, standing alone in a quiet living room feeling unsure about what to do with myself.

White lights were still meticulously stranded on the tree, the imitation evergreen branches still aglow.  There was wrapping paper on the floor and garland around the banister and all of the Christmas paraphernalia you could need to feel merry and bright as ever.  I felt dim.

I remember an argument starting earlier that morning, in the corner where my parents sat.  A dark, fussy cloud settled over each of their heads.  Just like mistletoe, only garnering the opposite effect.  My brother and I, both masters of distraction, doing our best to talk over them and keep each other preoccupied with new presents.  Even though I doubt we were even paying attention to silly presents at that point.  We could sense a storm coming, and when a storm is coming, it's generally difficult to focus on anything else.  You know, the same way food doesn't taste good anymore when you're nervous.

At some point, the tempest reached a sort of pinnacle followed by my dad parading out the front door in a fit of Christmas rage.  This is similar to Christmas cheer, only not at all.  In any way. 

Somehow, all three of us, that being me, my mom and brother, ended up on my parent's bed - the mainstay of the family.  Kind of like Santa's sleigh, only for sleeping on instead of delivering presents.  I didn't fully understand the situation at the time.  I think I was mostly thinking of myself and wondering how this day of all days could have ended like this, in tears on a bed.  Now I realize that crying is just what you do when you're at a complete loss to console any of the people you love.  I also remember that my feet were freezing, even bundled underneath the white down comforter.  I remember wondering why did we go to all of this trouble every year anyway, if it was just going to make everyone upset?

The next year in school, I was supposed to write a letter to Santa Clause.  Apparently he needed another annual notification of my material desires.  You know the drill.  I wrote that I simply and sincerely wanted nothing more than for December 25th not to result in an argument.  I wasn't trying to be dramatic or anything.  Just, honestly, what good are presents if families couldn't all be in the same room together to open them?

My outrageously nosy teacher decided it would be a good idea to call my mom and inform her of what I had written.  Because, for reasons that escape me, she found it concerning and thought it was any of her business.  And I remember my mom crying, again.  Which was really the opposite of what I had wanted.   Thanks, Mrs. Lee.  (And if you're reading this, that was sarcasm.)

You see, Christmas puts pressure on people until they storm out of front doors.  Christmas plants a certain sense of helplessness inside of me causes it to grow and spread throughout my entire body.

And I'm not saying that liking this holiday is stupid or that anyone who does is inferior or even that any of this is rational or justified.  It's just that Christmas has always had a way of blowing up in my face.

So falalalala yourself."

         -From a while ago.  And for the record, this is a poor representation of the top notch job my parents did of raising me in a happy, loving home.  Because it was.  We've just always struggled with the big holidays, buckled under the pressure or something like that.


  1. Oh this makes me feel so nostalgic! Ever since I was an age able to form my own opinions I could sense the forced fun that was Christmas Day. I like this piece, it's funny and so true.

  2. You wrote this? It's pretty amazing. Sad, but amazing. The holidays can be pretty stressful, and they aren't always perfect.

  3. This is perfect. My family can't handle big celebrations either. For me my dad's family exploded every fourth of july like clockwork. Now as an adult I celebrate not having to be around them on that day. Happy 4th. Independence for real.

    Tightrope to the Sun

  4. Uhm I can so agree. Last christmas was better. But everyone before that after the age of seven was like this. Two christmases ago we practically had a family split. It was the worst. But we stayed up until one or so talking and things are better then ever. But wowzers you always seem to explain everything perfectly. Like the part how you can sense the tension so the kids just talk and talk trying to cover up this hovering cloud with words. It's the worst.

    1. I do think that family drama makes it easier to communicate, as a family. Along with the bad things that are said, you end up saying good things as well that may not have been said without the bad things. You know? I hope this Christmas is more smooth sailing for your family. But if not, you can always vent to me about it haha cause I'll understand!

  5. as one of these people who does and always will love the magic of christmas:
    christmas day is horribly overrated. the season leading up to it is beautiful and kind and warm and full of twinkling lights, warm drinks and clothes, and there is this quivering anticipating of The Day. which, yes, when i was very little, was what it was about.
    but it stopped being about that long ago. because, for one reason or another, The Day was always incredibly disappointing, even when it was good. because nothing can live up to the joy that i experienced and expected all of December.
    Now i love Christmas more than I ever have, but it's changed. The gifts? They can be fun. Finding and wrapping and hoping they're as perfect as you want them to be. and the snowy nights with the colourful lights and music are as amazing as ever. but what I expect out of Christmas has changed entirely.
    I survive through whatever family festivities we must, and then it's OUR christmas. We build Christmas Fort, we cuddle, and we do whatever we want to. Watch bad Christmas stories, make up awful Christmas poems, play. Appreciate that we have a home and this amazing life, and it's Christmas time!!! And then we open whatever presents we've been able to afford that year and just live in our fort for awhile.
    It's the best thing ever, because how can that disappoint?
    Granted, we don't have kids yet. And i'm sure there will be years where that falls short of what they've heard from their friends. But i hope they will feel love. and that's what Christmas is.
    Cheesiest thing i've ever written, but i had to step in and say it.
    that said, i love what you wrote, so perfectly. and i definitely know. and ugh. nosy adults interfering at home. no. but still. merry christmas.

    1. Thank you for the Merry christmas, Erin :) And your perspective. It's always refreshing and something I enjoy.

  6. Oh I just love the way this is written, although it's a sad tale! I have withdrawals the days you don't blog.

    1. I wanted it to be more funny than sad. But it turned out mostly sad haha.


I love reading what you have to say about what I had to say. Feel free to leave those thoughts here.