It’s self-preservation, not self-pity. Let me wrap myself up in my thoughts and memories. I need to stand at the sideline. It’s not a choice at this point; it’s just a matter of getting by. You do what you need to do to get by, right? For this Christmas I need distance, space. Christmas seems to saturate everywhere and everyone, it is almost suffocating. I am coming out the darkness and being bombarded with sensory overload, a brightness that is painful to face. I can control my home environment, but I can’t control my workplace – nor do I have the right to. I do have the right to draw clear lines and to ask people to respect them. Enjoy the season, just leave me be. I don’t and I won’t feel left out. Instead I will be thankful not to have to perform. Not to have to “be” anything. Rather than hope people understand how I feel, I had the conversation with my manager, now, before we get too far into the festive season; before I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.
Christmas, more than any other time of the year, is about love and peace. It still is. Those words, love and peace, are exceptionally weighted for me. It was Kevin’s favourite salutation – he signed cards, letters, emails, with those words for many, many years. Every year, for the last 20 years, he would draw up a Christmas card, sign them all and mail them. It was his job; he knew if he waited for me it wouldn’t get done. He’d grumble, but that was part of the whole tradition. This year the Christmas cards are all on me. I may or may not be able to get them done.
Then there’s the tree. It strikes me as tremendously sad to put up a tree for just me. The kids will all be here at Christmas for sure and so there needs to be a tree. It’s just the act itself, of putting up the tree by myself, knowing later I will take down the tree by myself. Not having Kevin sitting contentedly on the couch, providing an ongoing commentary, sharing his observations about Christmas while I disassembled the tree. Telling me to sit down and talk to him, that I could always do the tree later. It has to be the saddest and most painful thing to do, putting up the tree this first Christmas. It is just the saddest thing…..so far.