Not to be a "Debbie Downer" (no hate to Debbies of the world), but the holidays have become more and more unenjoyable. Now before you call me a Scrooge or Grinch, hear me out! As you can tell by the title, I have had a fair share of trauma and death in my 28 years of life. I believe that this has led to me not being so holly jolly during the beloved trio of major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's).
Do not get me wrong, there are sparks of joy on my end as I meet up with loved ones and eat everything in sight. However, with joy comes flashes of pain and sadness. Like most trauma, a large part of mine comes from childhood. Money was always an issue/challenge growing up. Not in a "we need to cut back on eating out this month" way. It was more of a "we have to stay somewhere else for a few weeks until we can afford to have the power turned back on" way. Fun right?
With that being said, going out to buy a huge feast or loading the Christmas tree with presents was not our reality. I recall one year that my mother simply had no money to provide a Thanksgiving meal, but she had enough for a dozen donuts! So that was our feast that year. That year we traded turkey and dressing for jelly-filled and sprinkled treats!
Even now as an adult (kind of), I see how the dollars add up when one tries to provide a Thanksgiving spread. Like, are these damn turkeys raised by Beyonce?! Family time is such a vibe, but I feel as if there is a bit of pressure to ensure everyone is eating and having a good time. I just want to nap and maybe eat some doughnuts.
Besides food costs, the holidays also come with questions. Normally, I have no issues answering questions, but when it comes to the more in-depth questions such as, "Are you seeing your family over the holidays?" I proceed with caution. We do not walk around in life with labels of past traumatic events, so each year there is a huge chance of having to speak about big ugly topics. Spoiler alert, some of my closest and most talked about family members (in society) have passed away. From my mother and sister to most recently, my grandfather. So, if you ask me what my mom is bringing to the holiday table, I will give you THAT Chrissy Teigen meme look....see below:
I'm sorry, my mother can not make it to dinner this year. Why? Oh, cuz she's....well you get the point. (Also, I hope you got the lyric reference!) In fact, my late sister passed just three days before Thanksgiving Day of 2020. Not only do memories of the departed circle my mind heavy during the holidays, but I also have to open back open a wound each time someone new in my life asks about them. Joy.
If I have not made it clear yet, I grew up poor. As classmates would hope for the newest toys or gadgets, my siblings and I knew better. My mother was always transparent with life. At the time, I felt like this was not the way to go, but now I am glad. As a grew older, I could see the ugly side of life more and more and it was less shocking each time. Anywho, we knew to ask for essentials over mindless purchases. Socks, clothes, and shoes were always at the top of the Christmas Wish List.
I will say there were other gifts from extended family that provided the "fun" things to play with. However, being the person that I am, I would be sure to show my mother that I valued her bargain toys/gifts over any. I would ask my brother to take time out of his very busy play schedule so that we could enjoy one of the bigger gifts from "Santa" that was addressed for us both to share. I knew my mother struggled with her pride when it came to trying to give us what we wanted, but that part of my brain clicked at an early age. Mostly due to a local article written about my mother on this topic.
Here is a clipping from said article. Am I not the cutest!?
I will say that New Year's is usually a bit less crummy for me. Mostly due to the fact that a new year means the previous one is gone. Even if something as wild as a pandemic might carry over, rude. I will say there are two New Year's moments from my childhood that still stick with me today.
The first (the second will be in my book) was when a very evil man from my childhood took what should have been a night full of showering firework shows into a night showered with tears.
TRIGGER WARNING: Animal Abuse
My favorite dog from childhood was named Lacey May. She was with our family for years and even blessed us with a couple of litter of puppies. Her last litter was born on Thanksgiving one year. That is a Hallmark movie moment. However, later that year on New Year's Eve, she fell very ill. Her body shut down and sadly, she passed in the evening.
I was crushed. I remember crying for hours and well into the new year. The following day that man disclosed that he poisoned Lacey with antifreeze. He cruelly joked that she drank it with her water not knowing how much it would harm her. Why? I kept asking why he would do this. His answer? Because she chewed up something of his.
I know that is A LOT to take in and I agree. Sadly, this was not the first (but last) time that he has slaughtered a family dog in front of me. (The other times will also be in my book, duh). These events made it very hard for me to ever want to invest in a pet (besides a fish) until I was around 23. So, yeah there are times on New Year's that I send out hope that no other doggies in the world are being mistreated.
Now, I do not want readers to feel as if the festiveness needs to stop after reading this. I always am one to share my story/journey in hopes of inspiring others to not put so much pressure on the holidays. The beauty should be from the time spent with loved ones and the golden memories made. And that those of us who have not had the best experiences with holiday times, go easy on us.
It is sad, but true to say if you have lost someone important to you, you will never have a picture-perfect holiday. This does not mean that it is not enjoyed! It just might take more work and effort to do so. If I need a break to reflect alone, just let me be me! I am lucky to have an amazing support system that surrounds me. My wish is that we all have that.
So, I ask that you be mindful of others during the holidays. You never know what struggles have occurred OR might still be ongoing. Thanks for reading and I hope your holidays are full of the best possible outcomes you need in life right now!