I am not a Christmas kind of person. I am not a holiday of any kind or birthday person. I think that the root cause of this is a resentment of being told to be happy or jolly or send a card or buy gifts for someone on a particular day on somebody else’s schedule. And working in retail for years will suck holiday joy right out of you, although at the time I worked in retail I actually made more of an effort than I do now. The holiday malaise spread to all major holidays – Halloween, Easter, Independence Day…I tried a little harder when my mother-in-law was alive because she was so sad and depressed. Now we go to my family’s homes for Christmas and Thanksgiving and do little here at our home.
For years I felt guilty about this, but not badly enough that I could work up the effort to get back on the holiday bandwagon. Each loss has been felt particularly hard around Christmas. Death of family members, animal companions, friends, estrangements, complications.
My sister and I will go to my Aunt Louise’s funeral on Tuesday. My Uncle Wilton, her husband of 65 years and my mother’s brother, passed away a month ago. They were both in their 80s and in bad health. Aunt Louise was especially sick and in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It could be said that she left us and has been stuck in a confused, angry, suffering jail of her own for some time now.
I have been pondering over my sudden desire to sing Christmas songs and decorate for Christmas this year, a desire that popped up last week. Now I wonder if this is my Aunt Louise’s last gift to me.
I associate some very happy Christmases with Aunt Louise and her family. Mama used to take me to Clemson the week before or after Christmas and I would get to play with my two younger cousins. I was a bit of a snot, I’ll admit, because I was the older one for a change, and I would always push my cousins to do things they weren’t allowed to do, like go down to the local creek. Aunt Louise was like, THE BEST mom ever. She didn’t yell and she didn’t try to force you to eat stuff you didn’t like. They had a big basement where we could make our own spook house and an RV and we would go to parks and ride around in the mountains. We picked blackberries. She gave us crafty projects to do. The first time I ever drew what I saw and not what I thought I saw was a portrait of my youngest cousin drawing me. She listened, really listened to children. She raised a very creative and loving family of six children. Wow.
So, thanks for the happy Christmas memories, Aunt Louise and Uncle Wilton. Thank you for returning the holiday spirit to me. I dedicate this Christmas to you.
Grandmother Jones and Uncle Wilton