I’ve never quite known what to do with myself during the holidays. As I’ve said many times in my life, when you have no parents alive in the world you’ve got no one to answer to and nowhere to go for Christmas.
I can tell that people hate it when I say that. They bristle noticeably in reaction to the bluntness of the words that are designed to remind me, and yes, sometimes even them, of the trade off.
Because sometimes my friends complain about their parents. At times I stay silent when they do, at times I don’t, but the more tuned in ones always look or sound a bit remorseful when they realize they’ve bitched and moaned about something that must seem like a luxury to me. I don’t want them to. I get it. Families can be a pain like no other. But there is an altogether different kind of pain you get when yours is gone and you have to figure out, for the rest of your life, how to build another one.
I get into the spirit of this time of year really easily. It’s happy. I love it. It’s emotionally loaded for sure, but I’ve gotten used to the lack of tradition surrounding my own holidays. At the end of the day it just makes me want to celebrate another year lived and to give whatever I can of myself to those that I love. One of my favorite things in life is to give a gift that is meaningful and thoughtful, or that might have been created by my own hand. I spent hours yesterday embroidering sweet little hearts onto sets of linen napkins for those close to me who I know would understand such a thing.
I hardly notice anymore that neither my Mama’s or Daddy’s name appears on my gift list. And that still doesn’t sit well with me.
I was reading the paper this morning when my eye caught an ornament on my tree, a little red haired angel that I bought six years ago almost to the day. I bought her to represent the baby that I lost just before Christmas that year. I don’t know when the pregnancy slipped away, but I knew she was gone on December 13th. I took a minute to breathe and think, sitting as still as a stone, holding my paper, lost in that place that time travel takes you to to. I then looked for what sparkly things might represent the other parts of me that have flown away, and there were none. I have no box of ornaments that were passed down to me from the tree we decorated when I was a child. A lot of things got lost back then. So now I’m making my own heirlooms. I quickly reminded myself of that. And then I did what I do a lot. I got out my needle and thread.
Just their initials in the red thread, of course. The red thread that binds us together.
Thank you to those who have kept their red threads tied to me. I have spent countless December 25ths at others’ tables, decorating others’ trees, waking up somewhere other than home. Family comes in a million different ways and I’ve experienced at least fifteen or twenty of those. But my son John Henry is now four years old, and what I do know, more than anything, is that I want him to always know where his home is, who his red thread is tied to, and to always feel the love and spirits that are kept alive and connected in it and through it. I made the simple heart ornaments with the red initials for him, too. They are part of his story, they are part of his home, they are part of his Christmas, past, present, and future, just as they are mine. And they will go in the box of ornaments that I hope to pass on to him one day, that I won’t let get lost. Because now I have him to answer to.
Happy Holidays Everyone.