Post Christmas Madness: The Season of Excess Which Leaves Us with Feelings of Emptiness and Maxed O
The gifts are unwrapped and piled neatly under my tree, some completely untouched. I sit in my living room, staring at the tree, which is now dry and depleted after one month of standing, despite the nourishing water. Needles rain down each time I try to rearrange the presents so it does not look like a clustered mess. I feel a kindred spirit with my once beautiful Christmas tree. I, too, am depleted from my last week of running like crazy to make up for my lack of holiday spirit throughout the month of December. And now I sit here angry, and just as the needles of the tree rain down, I fight back the tears that want to rain down my once pretty face. I too, sit here tired and haggard. No amount of Tension Tamer tea can restore my energy and sense of calm today.
Yesterday, my kids received an incredible amount of presents. It was ridiculous if I say so myself, but I cannot accept responsibility for this. My husband and daughter took over the shopping when I was unable to drag myself out of bed, let alone face people in the stores. I am thankful that they picked up the ball I dropped; however, I am now faced with the worry of how much money was spent. Relinquishing control to a person who was raised to believe that the more gifts the merrier leaves me somewhat uneasy today in the aftermath.
Not only that, but my kids also received monetary gifts from several people, which they wanted to run out and spend today. That was it. I was ignited into flames of anger just as the tree would have had I lit a match and threw it into the faded greens. I blew my top in an almost Clark Griswold fashion. I started ranting about appreciation, taking for granted how fortunate my kids are and how I could send some of the gifts back if they weren’t going to play with them. I took a day that was enjoyable to them yesterday and destroyed their picture perfect Hallmark moment by painting my blackness all over it. I am ashamed of myself and now overridden with guilt, but at the same time, I want them to realize what they have. Am I wrong?
My husband made a statement that sat very poorly with me. He said, “I wanted to make up for the awful month of December we had by making sure they had an awesome Christmas.” I saw RED. So I proceeded to repeatedly question why he feels that an abundance of gifts would make a difference. I accused his father of creating this incorrect belief that money and gifts can make up for a bad time or what’s missing. I then asked my kids what was more important, a ton of gifts under the tree or having me there to watch them open them. Of course they told me having me there, thank goodness. But, I just desperately want them to understand that voids cannot be filled with monetary items. It never works. It never worked for me and I don’t know of one person that can claim his life has been fulfilled by material items or an abundance of money. My thoughts were everywhere and my emotions overwhelming.
I thank God I didn’t continue to hurl further justification points by saying something about his mother’s death. My heart broke for my husband when I heard that at fifteen he lost his mother to lung cancer on December 23rd. Could anything have made up for that loss? I am wondering if his father tried buying him everything, including a brand new Thunderbird when he graduated high school to fill that void, when all he really needed to do was hug him and hold him and tell him he was going to be there for him. That never happened, and to this day, it still hasn’t happened. His father is incapable for whatever reason. It’s sad and every Christmas he repeats the same thing…tons of gifts and money, but throughout the year, no emotional support and no unconditional love. Everything is on his terms and I can’t stand it.
I suppose I just still feel so empty that I am resentful. I resent the implication that money can buy you happiness, or gifts once a year can make up for a crummy month. It doesn’t work that way. Life is unfair, as we all know far too well. The gift at Christmas should be that despite the adversity, despite the difficult times, you can come together as a family and possibly enjoy one day because everyone that matters is present (no pun intended). My gift this year was finding the gusto to drag my butt out of bed, finally bake cookies and finish decorating for children. Whatever greater being flipped on that switch inside my head, gave me the best gift this year. I was not so sure less than two weeks ago if I would have even been mentally capable of celebrating with them this year.
My six year old, when questioned or should I say interrogated by this monster of a mother, told me presents are important but being together is more important. Bless his heart. This is the second time he has uttered those words to me. The last time was last Thursday evening, when I was at my lowest low, he said, “Mommy, I don’t care if you don’t feel well on Christmas, you still have to come upstairs to open presents, because Christmas is all about our family being together.” I assured him I would be there, and I was, and I am thankful for that, so why oh why, one day later, do I feel so badly about this holiday? I never wanted to ruin it for my kids. For the entire month of December that was one of my unrelenting thoughts…Don’t ruin Christmas for your kids! Don’t you dare ruin Christmas for your kids! Get yourself out of this slump! Christmas is for the children! Don’t ruin Christmas! What the fuck is wrong with you? DON’T RUIN CHRISTMAS!
I agree with my sweet six year old, James, but I also believe Christmas is for everyone, because it’s about more than gifts. It’s about being together. It’s about loving one another. It’s about peace and good will. It’s about so much more than this societal stimulus package that’s been created each year by the stores and by our society’s sickness of needing to overcompensate. Christmas is about the gift of love, and that is something which cannot be bought, bottom line. You cannot buy love; at least you cannot buy this girl’s love. I sent my kids off to shop with their father and hugged and kissed them goodbye. I hope despite my craziness and angry rant that they were able to realize how blessed they are in comparison to some kids. I hope they know how much they are loved. I try everyday to make sure they know how much I love them. I imagine that is why I feel an unlimited amount of presents, for which I now need to find space, is completely unnecessary.