By Caitlin Kelly
Here’s a beautiful post by a young woman, chosen for Freshly Pressed, about how she’s spending the holidays, without the traditional closeness of family:
We were browsing the greeting card aisle at Target the other day, looking for something to send my parents for Thanksgiving. The more I skimmed the contents of each card, the more discouraged I became.
Because it hurts to know millions of people all over the country will be sending cards that say things like, “Holidays are a time to appreciate loved ones…” or even better, “I’m so thankful to be spending this day with you…”
But I didn’t pick a card like that. I was relegated to a small selection of cards that read more along the lines of “Hope your holiday is __________.” Fill in the blank with words like blessed, enjoyable, and joyful. These are the neutral cards meant for acquaintances, distant relatives, or coworkers. All of the formality but none of the tenderness.
I just want to talk about this. I want to speak into the hearts of the people who struggle during the holidays as much as I do. Whether you’re estranged, cut off, or alienated the endless routine of the holiday season can sometimes be too much to bear.
That post cut me to the heart — as I, too, had just searched the card racks in vain for a birthday card for my mother, one without all the glitter and butterflies and saccharine emotion that has no relevance to our relationship.
We no longer even have a relationship.
My mother’s last card to me was several years ago, filled with anger. She now lives in one small room in a nursing home in a city that takes me 7 hours flying time to reach. I’m her only child, and she wants nothing to do with me.
The details are too complicated and grim and personal to get into here, although long-time readers of Broadside read a post that once explained some of it.
If you are fortunate enough to have a family that looks forward to spending time with one another, happy selecting gifts you know will please them, eager to cook festive meals and welcome them to your table — be thankful.
And please include those of us who don’t have a place to go to, as one friend did for me, one brutal Christmas Day some 15 years ago. My mother had come to New York to spend it with me, but Christmas Eve, (which already had some old and very painful memories for us both), had once more turned into a holocaust.
On Christmas Day, alone, I had nowhere to go and no one to be with.
My friend Curt, home from California visiting his parents in Pennsylvania, said: “Come!”
This season is a painful, aching one for many. We may be too shy or too proud to explain why we’re not going “home” for the holidays, the nasty details a thorn in our souls every day as it is.
And some people are grieving, this being their first Christmas without someone they adored — like this blog, written by a talented artist whose wife Leslie died six months ago. This post is heartbreaking, but describes what it feels like to approach Christmas for the first time as a widower.
The first Christmas after my husband left, in 1994, was deeply painful, but I got through it thanks to a dear friend and (yay!) a terrific new beau who reminded me there might actually be life worth living as a divorcee.
Luckily, I’ve spent the past 13 Christmases with my second husband, who thoughtfully chose Christmas Eve, (at midnight, snowing, after church) to propose, so that evening would newly represent a happy choice, not frightening old memories.
Home is where someone who loves you welcomes you with open arms, no matter who opens that door.
Please let your home be that place for someone feeling lost and lonely this year as well.