Greetings. The Unleashed One here. After sorting through the amalgamation of topics, I finally decided on what is going to be first. It is an expansion of a post I put up for Day 16 (if I'm not mistaken) of Discovery December, which is as follows:
I want to cover in more detail why I haven't been as cheery for the holidays as I've been previously because that hasn't always been my state of being.
The best way to describe my attitude growing up as it pertains to Christmas is a song by The Canton Spirituals. It is entitled "Mississippi Po' Boy". I remember the song playing on Sundays when my grandma would listen to the radio.
The lines that speak to me the most are: "I come from a poor family. We didn't have much. But the Lord's been good to me."
It didn't take long for me to become aware of my family's economic status. Because of that, it never occurred to me to ask for name-brand items or highly expensive things. My grandparents were taking care of me. Their income was fixed.
For me, the Christmas holidays were more about the preparation: inside and outside the house.
My late grandfather would make sure the yard was pristine. He would hang a string of lights around the edge of the roof. He'd even help dig out the Christmas tree from wherever my grandmother stored it. For convenience, she tried to keep the Christmas tree in its original box and the decorations in boxes and bags not too far away.
For economic reasons, we used the same tree every year. The only thing that changed about the tree was the color scheme of the decorations and the picking out of Christmas wrap to match the color scheme.
On the years when we couldn't find the right wrap, we'd use one type of wrap but make extra sure to use different color bows. To and From labels were a must.
There was great care put into the Christmas meal, especially the desserts.
My grandfather would light up when he would smell that one (or all) of his favorites were being made. When we were making a cake, my grandmother and I would warn him to step carefully so that the cake "wouldn't fall". Normally, she and I would make desserts a day or two before the actual Christmas meal, but my grandfather wasn't patient enough to wait until Christmas to have a piece. We would always be able to tell it was him because of how the cake or pie was cut.
I knew that Christmas was one of my grandfather's favorite holidays. He would get excited when there was a box just for him. If he received a new cap or some new shoes, he'd make his rounds that day to let them know that "insert person here" got him "insert item".
He was glad someone just thought about him and didn't make a fuss over the price. My grandfather was just proud that he was thought about and loved and that he received something he needed and could use consistently.
When my grandfather died, it was an understatement that everything changed. No holiday was the same, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I admit that I cannot remember if I celebrated the holidays the year that he died. I would have to rely on Facebook memories if I did.
Each year, I tried to push through, but every year, something was missing. It took my recent therapy session for it to hit home.
I was yearning for a way to recreate the spirit of the holidays but didn't know how to do so. The main one who loved the holidays so much was gone. More than eleven years later, I was still searching.
I kept telling myself various scripts.
"If I find someone (romantically) who has the holiday spirit, it would invigorate me." The romantic partners I had later in life either weren't into it or would just go along just because it made me happy. That would make me feel guilty because I knew they didn't really want to do it.
For a while, I believed that if I attached myself to another's way of celebration that it could lighten the mood and make me feel connected to home ...connected to him. The incident that happened on the 15th (which I'll probably only share with a select few) solidified that wasn't working either.
The funny thing is, I am so much like my grandfather that it's uncanny ... but how to amplify the him in me to make the holidays more festive ... well, that has become my new, ongoing assignment.
To those of you who are feeling festive, I wish you well. Check-in on those who are struggling through the holidays. Give them understanding and give them grace.
Until next time,