Yep, it’s getting to be that time of year again. In my family there are a rash of birthdays in October. Mama, Daddy and then me, followed by grandmothers, aunts, sisters~in~law, nephews and when I was finally out on my own and able to celebrate being an individual, I proceeded to have my daughter on my mother’s birthday and my baby son three days after mine. I do believe that would be a total of nine in seven days.
I sometimes celebrate mine in April ~ just because…
But the bottom line is that this is not only our ‘Birthday Season’, it’s the run-up to the traditional holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all of those get~togethers and parties and for some of us ~ excruciating loneliness.
Dividing and splitting the holidays is like taking your heart out of your chest and squeezing all of the love and the blood out. It feels so bruised and so empty. Heaving with pain. Nowhere to run.
Okay ladies and gentlemen, get ready. Prepare yourselves because it’s not only coming, it’ll be here before you know it. Make a plan if you can and do something completely out~of~character from your former holiday plans.
Our first post-divorce Christmas days were spent in an upmarket waterpark/resort park/caravan park a couple of hours away from home. We brought a 3 foot tree and decorations, we brought our pressies and swimsuits and focused on not getting sunburned. The day itself dawned achingly empty despite the fact that we were together. We happened to meet a Canadian couple with two daughters who were holidaying in Australia and were desperately homesick. My kids and I cut our trip short and brought them home with us to see what a ‘traditional Australian/American hot~as~hell Christmas by the ocean’ was like. We smiled with our new friends and regaled them to the best of our ability. When they left to continue their Aussie adventure, we had lived through our first Christmas without Daddy.
The next few were abysmal. He was refusing to pay Child Support and I knew that our holiday would be steaming hot and basically foodless. In early October I contacted the homeless missions in our area and we began training to work over the Christmas Holidays. We worked our fingers to the bone and came home exhausted, grateful for what we DID have, and maybe wiser.
The next year was the year that my ex kidnapped our youngest and beloved 11 year old, keeping him in the USA with no contact. That year was the worst, we felt incapable of proceeding with any plans without our Tazzie. Again the lack of Child Support payments, again the stifling heat, and even though it was now the fourth year as a divorced family, it was not something that we could get used to.
Flash forward to today, a decade after he left and the dust has settled. The father brought our sunshine back to us and I let it go, just grateful beyond belief at the smell of my son’s skin. Taz had made it clear that he would never again go anywhere with his father, slipping away from him in Las Vegas to call me with spare change that he had been pilfering for weeks so that I could track his father down. My children saw me find my power and retain my grace and followed suit. Their father was humbled and began to treat them (and, in a way ~ me) with the respect that we deserved.
These days it has become a pattern. They come from far and near to sleep over at my home on Christmas Eve. We drive around looking at the lights, all of us together ~ and get ice cream before my big kids read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to Alex, my 12 year old son from another mother. We begin the early preparations for the best breakfast of the year and we talk together in my living room with the tree sparkling and winking.
In the morning we will open our gifts together and then will be joined by some of Alex’s siblings and we feast on fresh fruits, fresh juices, freshly made eggnog, croissants, fresh coffee and cakes. We will sit in our airy outside room and share the most magical morning together as we open our stockings after we’ve eaten. There will be music playing and laughter and conversations flowing.
And then…my children will leave to go to their fathers and that aching roar will revisit my bones and I will begin to fail. I will pretend that I am not in distress as Alex and I will go to the river with our innertubes and a fine picnic of fresh shrimp and bread and juices and fruits. I will fake being happy as I still feel that distinct loneliness. I get by. I have to.
My message is to prepare yourself. You already know that it’s going to hurt, you already know that it will create a battle raging within you. But you can map it out so that you are prepared. Helping less fortunate people is a great way to center yourself and your children. Giving of yourself is an ideal way to find yourself.
Many places demand that you get training first. Check it out now. Get in touch with a food kitchen in a town that you’ve always wanted to go to and offer yourself. They may allow you to train in your own home town and then welcome you in. For this season, take yourself out of your comfort zone and use this time to grow.
Christmas holidays are all about giving. What is better than giving your love and making a difference? The reward is two fold. You give to your world in the best way possible and you lose that empty time where you would curl up and cry. It’s a win/win situation. Just start the wheels in motion now…