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The holidays and what it does for my mental health

So we enter the time of year I just hate. I mean dread is better. I think I would hate December if it weren’t for all the exciting happenings of the holidays that happen. The distractions of the music, the bright colored lights, the planning, the shopping, the cooking, the baking and the excitement in my daughters eyes as she, in all her innocence, anticipates experiencing every day with awe. It is exciting for me too. To hear her talk so much this year about Santa. She didn’t really get the concept last year and she has come so far verbally that the inflections of excitement in her voice are just so contagious. I get brought back to my own childhood and the memories I had of this special time.

However, I also get reminded about how conscience I was, even at a young age, that this all signified a passing of another year. It meant that some of my most favorite times with my friends and family were only memories now. It meant I was another year older, another year closer to having to become a responsible adult and another year of innocence lost. Yup I was a gloomy kid, at 6 and 7 years old thinking about this. It never left me either. Here I am almost 30 years later doing the exact same thing. It makes this time of year so hard for me.

I do not know if I am finding it harder or easier with each passing year. My heart says it is harder. Last year it was kind of a transitional period. You see my mom and her sisters always hosted Christmas. Each year it alternated between their homes Last year both my aunts had become snowbirds and moved down south. Last year Christmas was by my Aunts house and things were so bear as she moved things out. So this year I volunteered to have Christmas at my place. I loved having it but it also signified a change. My aunts and mom have said for many years now how us kids would need to take over the holiday hosting since they were getting old. This time finally came I suppose.

As I stepped into the role of hosting the holiday family gathering I remembered when it changed over from my grandparents to their kids. I remember my grandparents house on Lancaster. I remember the dining room where we would all gather for the holiday meal. We would all sit around the table (I have that same table now in my house) and eat as a family. I remember siting in the living room playing with the wooden b locks or the tinker toys or Lincoln logs my grandfather kept for us. They were so nice made out of real wood. They lasted forever and we made some interesting things from it all. It kept us entertained and out of the adults hair so they served their purpose.

When they moved from that house out to the suburbs I remember the celebrations there too. It seemed to alternate from there and my uncles house since it was bigger. I remember seeing my older cousins and sister hanging out and wishing I could be grown like them. There were no cousins really my age so I went back and forth between the older ones and the younger ones that were my younger sisters age. I did more observing than anything else.

I also did a lot of reflecting. I remember the rides home where I just sat there and thought about how sad it was for all excitement of the time to end. Once home I would stay up in my bed or in the living room, siting with just the Christmas tree lights on looking out at the dark night. A lot of times I would cry about the passing of another holiday. A time when the world and the family seemed at peace. There was no real arguing going on. I didn’t seem parents worry about bills or anything. My dad being laid off didn’t seem to matter. Everyone just seemed happy. It was like we entered a different realm from Thanksgiving to Christmas. At a young age I realized it was only temporary but I sure wised like hell it wasn’t.

The holiday celebrations at my grandparents house stopped when my grandmother died. That is really when it switched over to alternating between my parents house and my one aunts house. I guess that is why this year, right now, as I do my usual reflecting afterwards I am having such a hard time. It switched. It is now in the hands of us kids. I am ok with the added responsibility but it seems like the ending of something. The ending of traditions and the way we celebrated the holidays. It means my parents and my aunts are getting older and that scares me.

It doesn’t help that both my mother’s birthday is 8 days before Christmas and my fathers 9 days afterwards. So not only does Christmas represent the passing of time for me but it literally means my parents are a year older. I have the hardest time dealing with them getting older. I mean my mind can not help but think how much longer before one of them passes and things change again? I know we do not know how much time we have with one another and to value each moment together like it is our last but I find that as a rather gloom and doom way to live life as well.

I think about how much they have been there for me and my family. I think about how much support they have given me. I think about how much they frustrate me (as I am sure I have done for them as well) and how much I value them. They make me who I am today. They have stood by me through every health issue, surgery, broken bone, mistake, happy and sad time and major milestones in my life. I think I just want to freeze time. I love right now. I love living in the right now. I think I fear the tomorrows.

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