Friday, December 25, 2009

The ghosts of Christmas: past, present, future

OK, I admit it...I'm a melancholy sort of person (otherwise known as clinically depressed). So as Christmas approached, I found myself focusing on all our Christmas traditions that have fallen by the wayside as many of my kids cut me out of their lives. Of course, with so many children, the excitement was palpable, and it looked like Santa had left a whole sleighful of presents under our tree. I made such a conscious effort when they were younger to build our traditions, thinking that, as adults, they would return home for the holiday or at least would continue some of those traditions themselves. But as we dealt with all the turmoil and tribulation of the teen years, the traditions were painfully stripped away, piece by piece. Attachment disordered teens often did their best to ruin the holiday. When we hung stockings, the numbers dwindled, as troubled teenagers ran away or refused to come home from residential placements, and young adults left and never looked back. Fewer and fewer decorations and lights were put up. There were some Christmases in recent years when my depression made the thought of putting up a tree or cooking a big dinner seem overwhelming, especially the year my dad passed away in December and Gabriel was in the hospital for 7 months, or last year when my mother had had a stroke and Gabriel was actively psychotic. This year my mother has been in the hospital and was transferred to a skilled nursing facility a few days before Christmas, so I really gave little thought to Christmas until I suddenly realized I had two days to shop and plan a dinner.

So I've been in a very "humbug" mood, until yesterday, Christmas Eve day. I had heard rumors earlier in the week about the possibility of snow, but, like most cynical Texans, I've heard too many dire warnings about impending winter weather events, only to be disappointed (or relieved) when they totally fizzled out. So I was flabbergasted when it began to snow...and snow...and snow. It snowed for a solid seven hours. And with winds gusting up to 40 mph, it qualified as a real, honest-to-goodness BLIZZARD! The weather folks assured us that there wouldn't be any accumulation, since it had been almost 80 degrees on the 23rd, so the ground would be too warm. WRONG! With such an uncommon snowfall on Christmas Eve, I began to feel quite festive! And this morning I awoke to my first real White Christmas! The last white Christmas on record in Fort Worth was in 1926!

So we had our quiet little Christmas. The gifts were modest, but the boys were pleased. The house was cluttered, but there was no one to criticize me for that. For so many years, I tried to teach my kids that there was more to life than material possessions, but the culture and their peers taught a different lesson. I like this Christmas Present, stripped of the excess, the frantic feeling, the emptiness that can never be filled. The one thing missing was my mother's presence.

As for the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-come...I don't want to look at what that spirit has to show me. The empty chair today was enough to make my eyes turn away from that vision. For now, so much better to live in the present!


Thom said...

Great telling of what Christmas is all about. Despite the plans, gifts, meals, gains and losses... it was a snowfall that changed everything. Wonderful!

Adoption of Jane said...

Your Amazing :) Love your blog!