My dear friend Bethany invited me to Highpoint Church with her two weeks ago. No sooner than I walked through the door did I realize it wasn’t your typical Bible Belt affair– emblazoned on the front of the program handed to me was Bah Humbug [bonus points for the #BahHumbug hashtag featured on their media!]. The pastor’s message resonated deeply with this Scrooge. Simply put, he told us not to ‘fake Christmas.’ It’s okay if this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for you.
Never again will I fake Christmas.
As Thanksgiving approaches a sense of impending doom fills me because I know what’s coming. Turkey Day officially launches the ordeal that doesn’t end until the ball drops. I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD], a very real condition with an very appropriate acronym. Festive traditions bringing joy to the masses– family meals, Black Friday, parties, Santa, special religious/spiritual occasions, decorations, holiday music– depress the hell out of me. Celebrations make the condition infinitely worse, causing my anxiety and stress levels to skyrocket.
Despite my inherent knowledge that SAD grips me in its clutches, the degree to which I fake Christmas varies depending on the events of the months proceeding it. 2014 marks a particularly brutal holiday season. Still reeling from the unexpected death of Brandi, I find myself feeling acute pain for other December losses, such as MeMae and Ava Grace Hart. Grief amplifies exponentially during this time.
Missing Maris takes its toll. Navigating these trying weeks would be considerably easier with my best friend by my side. I despise the fact that she’s in Spring Hill. Every day I hope they’ll realize they’ve made a terrible mistake and come home.
I hesitate to mention my son’s behavioral problems….but his acting out challenges the entire family. These incidents don’t occur daily. When they do happen it’s rarely severe. Yet it’s frustrating beyond words when he’s in the throes of a tantrum or being blatantly disrespectful. Some of these issues come with age as he tests his boundaries. He desperately needs consistency, discipline, and consistent discipline. Because of my commitment to not fake Christmas I’m okay with telling you that I routinely want to call the North Pole and them skip over my male child entirely.
Then there’s Will. My estranged husband and the father of my children once seemed blissfully unaware of the impact that his poor choices had on others. Now I think he is finally starting to understand that the damage he caused directly affects his family. We communicate regularly but I’m just sick over his current situation– the gravity of which hit me like a ton of bricks last week. I can’t even go there right now.
Finally, I’m grappling with a highly personal issue. Only those closest to me are aware of it. Suffice it to say I’m overwhelmed and at a loss for how to proceed.
Look at this selfie taken tonight. There I sit, perched atop a bed with no linens because I haven’t bothered to retrieve them from the laundry room. That requires effort. My seated position doesn’t reveal the full glory of my nightgown, which more closely resembles a muu muu belonging to Mama Cass than a wardrobe option. But it’s super comfy and I get lost in it so its become my go-to piece lately. It goes without saying that my
mullet hair is unkempt with nary a trace of makeup on my face. I even tried to match the Instagram filter to my mood. Notice how I’m in focus but my surroundings are blurry? That’s my artistic testimony to how I feel during the holidays.
I’m severely depressed. Even getting out of bed proves difficult. So much so that sometimes I bypass that step for hours. I sleep like it’s going out of style yet I’m always exhausted. My preferred time for sleeping is during the day, which puts a damper on errands and other routine functioning. Being anywhere other than my room or bathtub does not appeal to me. Neither does getting dressed unless I absolutely have to. If I manage to start a task I rarely finish it. I isolate myself and interact as infrequently as possible. The phone that’s never far from my grasp gets silenced, tossed on a table and ignored.
Guilt further compounds the problem. Are my kids somehow getting the short end of the Christmas stick because I’m a phony? I keep a smile on my face and go through the motions for their sake but I feel guilty and borderline shameful for not being naturally enthused. Other parents delight in rituals such as photos with Santa. I dread them. Because I refuse to deny my children happiness I manage to trudge through it….silently cursing every second of the fanfare.
Come sit under the mistletoe with Sloane the Grinch and stop faking Christmas. Cheers to those who despise this time of the year! You are not alone. Take comfort knowing it doesn’t last forever. The end is in sight. This too shall pass, just like it does every other year. Until then I’ll be wishing I could hibernate throughout the duration of the holiday hoopla.
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,