I want to put Christmas lights in my office this year.
I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday- always has been. I love the music- and by music I mean REAL Christmas music. Not Madonna singing “Santa Baby” or the latest teen sensation angelically lip syncing to a rendition of “O Holy Night”. Honestly? And if Lady Gaga comes out with a Christmas CD, I think I’ll revolt. And of course, anyone who has read this blog for an extended period of time knows my extreme hatred of Elvis’s “Blue Christmas”. Seriously, it is THE Worst.Christmas.Song.EVER. I’m contemplating inventing a device that will completely eradicate its existence from the minds of the entire population. Have I mentioned how much I despise this song?
But I digress… back to lights. I used to go all out for Christmas at my old office. I had a Christmas countdown on the marker board. I had garland, I had Christmas beads, I had bowls of candies, Santas and snowmen, and lights strung around the cubicle. My former boss remarked once that it looked like Christmas threw up in my office. My response was the immediate purchase of an adapter to make the lights twinkle on and off. An instigator? Moi? Nooooo…..
After Emily died, it was all I could do to survive that 1st Christmas, let alone give any thoughts to decorations. The 2nd Christmas, I was unemployed and had no office to decorate. Last year, the 3rd Christmas and once again employed, I still didn’t have the heart to decorate my new office. But this year is different. I want lights. I want garland, and I want to make cookies for my co-workers. Some would say that’s healing- but I don’t think it’s really healing. Nothing has healed… because Emily is a wound that will never heal. It’s more of an… adapting. I turned a bit of a corner when I realized that my soul is never going to fully heal. The key is learning to live with the hurting soul. Easier said than done of course, but it’s progress.
Christmas still isn’t the same. But at the same time, I don’t want it to be the same. I don’t want to honor the same traditions, because they hurt too much. I have a mental image of trying to make a star shape fit into a triangle-sized hole. With enough pressure, you can force it to fit- but you lose vital pieces in the process. You lose what makes a star a star- and that’s how I feel about Christmas. Pretending things are the same only makes it more hollow, more empty, and more about my sadness and my grief than about Christmas itself. I don’t want Christmas to be a triangle.
I tend to listen to melancholy Christmas songs. It gives voice to the hurting part of my soul- it is an outlet for the sadness, while at the same time still honoring Christmas. Sarah McLachlan is my favorite album. Her voice has a melancholy overtone, and her album is a perfect blend of what I like to call, "Subdued Christmas". Sometimes I think her song “Wintersong” was written specifically for me. It’s the perfect song when you need a good cry.
And part of steering away from falling into the Christmas Triangle is realizing that it is okay to be sad at Christmas. It is okay to cry through a sad Christmas song, and it is okay to not have the heart to send Christmas cards just to check them off a list. I refuse to stress about not having money for Christmas presents (well- I’m still working on that one). I’ve given myself permission to enjoy my lights, I bought myself a pair of Christmas pajama pants, and I am itching to bury myself elbow- deep in cookie dough. I realized that it is okay to accept the fact that I despise that Christmas macaroni wreath Emily made, but at the same time its absence from the wall would break my heart. I am coming to grips with the fact that grief makes no sense, there is no rationalizing, and there is no rhyme or reason to its triggers.
I miss Emily more than anything. There are so many things that I wish she was here for. She’s my Christmas star- and her death is the triangle-shaped hole. And somewhere in between is a shape that encompasses both-instead of forcing the star into the triangle, you simply let it rest as it is and the shapes eventually form into one.