Saturday, December 6


Someone...someone who is apparently a friend....called me 'The Grinch' yesterday. No, not because I'm green (I'm not) but because I don't care much for the festive season. There I was, enjoying a pleasant email exchange with my friend (let's call him Nic for that is his name) and as we arranged to 'catch up' (don't you hate that expression? I do) I happened to make a comment about Christmas and how much better I'd feel when it was over and in his reply he called me 'Grinch'.

Now as I recall this Grinch character is very angry with the local townspeople (The Whos of Whoville) because they treated him badly particularly around the Christmas season. He is angry and vengeful. This is not me. I bear no grudges to anyone at Christmas time (or any other time really). I am not The Grinch.

Neither am I Scrooge. He was miserly and lonely and hated Christmas for those reasons (more or less). I am very generous at Christmas and I'm certainly not lonely, I have no problem with everyone having time off work, enjoying Christmas cheer, going to Mass, opening lots of presents and eating a big turkey dinner. I ensure my children have all the fun and excitement of Christmas and work hard to create a Christmas as magical and fantasy-laden as mine were as a child (and for most of my adult life for that matter). Santa letters are written, Christmas trees are decorated, advent and Christmas services are attended, snacks are left for Santa and the reindeer, we even have an elf that visits in the days leading up to Christmas leaving letters and chocolate coins. I do this for them and I never tell them that I'm not that keen on Christmas myself, I reserve that information for grown ups with whom I feel I can be honest.

So let me clear about this...I don't enjoy Christmas. I am not angry, vengeful, lonely or miserly. I didn't have terrible Christmas experiences as a child. I never received coal in my stocking or had to deal with family disputes during the Queen's Christmas message or endure slobbery kisses from Great Aunt Gertrude. There is no deep and troubled past causing me to find Christmas painful.

What is painful is that Christmas no longer holds my mother. She adored Christmas, my whole life I watched as she planned and made lists and cut out pictures and recipe ideas from magazines long before the day. She decorated the tree beautifully every year (sometimes with a theme) and gathered the family and cooked the most amazing Christmas dinners, she never failed to make Christmas special and magical and exciting. It wasn't just the hype either, she really loved Christmas and all it stood for. Her enthusiasm was contagious and as she was the centre of the family we all caught the bug. With her I loved Christmas. It's just not the same any more. Yes, I've heard all the platitudes about making Christmas my own now, carrying on her traditions and creating new traditions and experiences for my own family. I do that, but I do what has to be done to make it special for my children and I pray for it to be over. I'm not sad and sobbing into my mince pies (Mum hated soggy pastry) and I'm not tortured...I'm just indifferent.

Sorry to bring the mood down and everything but there you have it.

Oh and it's not lost on me that the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with me. 'Nuff said.

P.S. I also don't like all that consumerism but that's a whole different blog post. You're warned.


solsticedreamer said...

i adore this time...the run up and beyond of the solstice and the cosy village feeling with its little trees and lights and real live donkeys wandering through the village :) its very non commercial which i love and i wont even need to travel to a city for my i guess i am somewhat protected from all the crappiness that comes with this time of year.

on the other hand if i had lost a parent i would feel somewhat different...'hug'

Dave said...

Hmmm. Indeed.

Anonymous said...

That's how I used to feel Lee, I've had lots of lovely village Christmas experiences. Where we are now isn't commercial either which is something I suppose. I should also say I find it very hard to feel Christmassy in the heat - it's just not natural :-).

Amen, Dave.

Z said...

A friend of mine had just the same reaction after her husband died (suddenly, but nowhere near Christmas; in fact he died one June) and, not only could she not celebrate Christmas but neither could she be with people who did. She went on holiday to places where Christmas would not be celebrated, didn't send cards or have any sign of it at all. She moved away after a few years and I don't know if she still holds the same attitude, but I hope not.

I'm not sure how long ago your mother died, but mourning lasts an awfully long time and shows itself in various ways. I hope you will come, in time, to love Christmas again because it gives you happy memories of your lovely mother, rather than reminding you of your grief and your loss. I so sympathise with you, dear Caitlin.

Z said...

Oh, and a blog is where you can say these things, and it's one of the best things about blogging.

Cathy said...

Your post brought me to tears (which I'm sure wasn't your intention, but by now you would know I'm a sook)! It was a lovely tribute to your mother. As you know, I love christmas but I can totally understand how this one day of the year can make someone's absence even more Dad's youngest brother died suddenly one January (some 20 years ago now) in an accident when he was just 30 years old and his birthday was Christmas Day...I was just a kid, but I can imagine how Christmas was forever changed for my Dad, his parents and other brothers and sister that day.
P.S. It never crossed my mind to call you The Grinch or Scrooge.
P.P.S. It's 1.45am and I just realise I have written an essay here...

Moyra said...

I got all teary reading that and thinking about Mum. You forgot to add that not having your wonderful sisters near you at Christmas just makes it worse hehe

Caitlin said...

Thank you Z, you're right it is still grief and I feel it so much at this time because it was such a large part of my memories of her.

Cathy! 1.45am! I'm sorry it made you cry I also cry at the drop of a hat so I understand. I think Christmas is a hard time for anyone when someone is missing, I hope it will get easier.

Yes, Moy you are absolutely right, it is harder still without you two nearby. You know how much I miss you both.