A blue Christmas…

     

Last night I decorated my new real blue Christmas tree…alone.

I felt such a loss after Angel left to go back to college. Year after year, we decorated the Christmas tree together. I really missed having her here this year. I didn’t tell her that though. There are so many kids dropping out to be closer to home. We both know she is right where she needs to be.

My other two children were not interested in decorating the tree with me. Just this last weekend Arabella said that she didn’t think her teenage self would like me very much. Bayley was over and Alex wanted to spend time with her. The last thing I wanted was to force the kids to spend time with me. I want them to want to.

I wanted for just a second to put them into my world growing up. I wanted them to realize how important this tradition is to me. But I protect them from all of that.

The holidays sometimes does crazy things to my head. 

The next thing I know, I am back home. Mom and I are baking cookies for Santa. There is a tree with glimmering lights. There were Cabbage Patch dolls hidden in wrapping paper under the tree. 

Then just like that, everything I had was gone.

Mom said that Matt couldn’t tolerate Christmas trees, real or fake. Everything stopped. We no longer had Christmas trees in the house. We no longer put out cookies for Santa. We no longer decorated with lights or candles. That was no longer allowed. What used to be magical and fun turned cold and desolate. It became a season of despair for me. 

Thankfully, my grandma always had us over on Christmas Day. I never cared that her trees were less than perfect. She always cut her own tree from her backyard. I was happy there. Except for the year that my mom told her that she could no longer have a tree because Matt was allergic. My grandma decorated the wall with bows that year. I was so angry.

Last night I put my head in my hands and cried. A part of me will forever be broken.

I wanted my kids to understand what having a tree means to me because I never had it. I did have it at one time, but it was taken away. I wonder if my younger brothers even remember a time when we had a Christmas tree in the house. Perhaps I will ask them. Maybe it is better if they don’t remember.

Last night I felt so much anger and despair. If my mom were to call, I wouldn’t answer the phone. It is not fair to her to be angry about something that happened 30 years ago. It’s not her fault that Matt is autistic. The whole situation was unfair to all involved.

I want to help other special needs families learn from my experiences, but I feel so much rage. It hurts to reach out. My mind goes absolutely haywire this time of year with anger, depression, and anxiety. I can’t seem to control it. I can’t seem to escape the memories. So many years have past now, but it still hurts when I pick at the scars.

Why did you take everything away from me? Did you think that taking our Christmas traditions away from us would make Matt any less autistic? It was not like he broke out in hives and had trouble breathing. I needed this to help get through the dark days. I needed some light. But my needs got ignored. The funny thing is, Matt wasn’t any more or less violent without the tree. It didn’t matter either way to him, but it did to the rest of us

I’m sorry, I didn’t intend for my post to be this way. I was going to post a picture of my lovely blue tree. This post was going to be light and fluffy like the snow we don’t have on the ground outside. I didn’t think that I would respond this way. This time I didn’t brush the feelings away. I let myself grieve. Sometimes I wish my kids would understand that the things they take for granted as normal were never normal for me. 

I am not usually an emotional person. I am usually cool, calm, and detached from feelings. I don’t want to live in that cold emotionless void anymore. I want to feel now even if it hurts. I am stronger now, strong enough to handle this.

Thanks for listening to me. It really helps me feel better. 

Ending the holiday season

I didn’t tell anybody this earlier, but I started the new year off on the wrong foot. We had a couple of friends over for New Year’s Eve. Everything went well and the last people left at 1:30 AM. Paul and I finally made our way to bed around 2. At 6 AM, a noise woke me up. Somewhere between 2 and 6 AM, our furnace went out. The house temp was under 50 degrees. We ended up having someone come out at the crack of dawn on new year’s day receiving holiday pay to fix it. It was a rough start. 

Today we took down our Christmas tree. I put all of the decorations back in the crawl space and dug out all of my old journals. I don’t know how quick I will go through them to be honest with you. I always have a rough time this time of year with the lack of sunlight. Even though I take massive doses of vitamin D, my thoughts and emotions tend to be dark. Just thinking about the past can bring me down on the sunniest of days….so this month might be light and fluffy like the winter snow. Talking about the winter snow, Paul and I were able to get out and cross country ski for the first time on the skis that we bought last winter. What a workout! Sure made me feel out of shape, especially since we saw a friend of ours there and he did two laps to our one. 

Yesterday I told you that we were going to one last Christmas party at my uncle’s who happens to be a clean freak. Well, I am embarassed to say that it was me this year that made a mess. That’s right. After being at the party for about a half an hour, I cracked open a bottle of beer. I took 3 sips and proceeded to spill most of the bottle everywhere. It went down my shirt with a majority of it landing on my pants and their off white carpet. I greeted relatives coming to the party looking like I peed my pants. My uncle said I could leave behind some money for the carpet cleaning. I am glad he was just kidding. Or was he? He didn’t freak out though like the story I heard of when my cousins accidently knocked over his fish tank. Other than looking like a complete idiot, the party went well.

Our staff party a couple weeks ago went great too. We took our employees to a painting class. It was so much fun. And I didn’t suck at painting. I was happy to be average. Out of the four of us that went, not one single person between the ages of 30 and 52 ever painted on a canvas before. Checked that off my bucket list and would love to do it again. 

Other than that, I have been trying to upload a video of my daughter and I singing. I haven’t been successful at that. I will probably figure it out by July. Geez. We sang our Christmas songs at the party yesterday. Every year my aunt insists that we sing. My daughter moves people to tears with her singing. She wants to spend the summer singing and performing on tour. She is auditioning to do that next month. When my cousin heard that, she was bummed out because she wanted Angel to sing at her wedding this summer. Angel just sang at my brother’s wedding a few months back. Angel and I have very similar voices, except that hers is well trained and mine is not. I used to be the one asked to sing at weddings, now it is her. When did she become better than me??? She used to ask me for advice and now she tells me what to do. I listen to her because she is right, but can’t help but feel hurt that I am no longer wanted. I am happy that she has had so many opportunities that I didn’t.

Sometimes it is hard for me to accept this whole aging thing. 

Christmas (pet) lover

Many, many ages ago when I first met Paul, he performed a quick thinking pet rescue. Christmas time can offer new dangers for pets.

Paul has always been a dog lover. When I met him he had a dog. I have always been a cat lover. When I met him I had two cats. If I didn’t marry him, I may have been destined to be the crazy old cat lady. So we struck up a compromise after marriage, he has one dog and I have one cat. It is a good arrangement and with 3 kids we do not have any more openings for pets or people.

During the Christmas of 1995, Paul and I were in his apartment when across the hall we heard cries for help. There was a desperate pounding on the door of his apartment followed by hysterical screams from the neighbor lady. She was crying and shaking as she grabbed us into her apartment. Her little dog was wrapped in the Christmas tree lights. He was trying to free himself but was becoming more and more tangled in the process. The cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

Everything was happening so fast that I too began to panic. Paul, however, ran back to his apartment to grab his scissors. He held the struggling dog down while he cut the cord that was wrapped around his neck. Time and time again, Paul has acted in situations where most people freeze. This makes me feel safe because I know I can’t seem to control my inaction during those times.

On that winter day, my Christmas lover became a hero in my eyes. Paul the Pet Rescuer. I knew that I had to keep this guy.

 

Childhood Christmases in a (chest)nut shell

Childhood Christmases in my mind were perfect. Except for that one Christmas that we aren’t going to talk about today. It was as if everyone knew how difficult the rest of the year was so they did everything possible to make two days of the year perfect for my brothers and I, our birthdays and Christmas.

My grandparents had a small Thomas Kincade like house. It was warm and cozy on the inside while cold winter storms raged outside. Icicles hung from the porch and garage roofs dripping droplets of shattered ice onto the walkways, one last obstacle against the warmth that beckoned from within. Upon entrance, steam whisked away into the frigid air from the kettle of boiling potatoes next to the open door. The aroma from the ham cooling on the stove top next to the potatoes was intoxicating. Grandma had a counter full of food, homemade pies and cookies too. Every year grandma had a chest cold. She coughed and coughed though she didn’t seem to mind. Soon Aunt Grace showed up with her brother Harold. Aunt Grace always brought cranberry sauce and the fruitcake that my brothers and I didn’t like to eat.

I was always first to ask if we could open our presents right away. Grandma always said “no”, but we could look inside our stockings that were hung over the fireplace. My brothers and I each had a stocking that contained our favorite candy. There was a tiny stocking for grandpa hanging in the corner that held one peanut. What drew our attention the most though were the boxes of wrapped gifts under the tree. We were always peeking in hopes of finding a big box with our name on it. My grandparents cut their own Christmas tree from their tree farm. It stood on top of a large round end table in front of a big picture window. The tree was always lopsided in some way or another, but we never noticed. Grandma always covered the trees with tinsel and old fashioned ornaments.

After lunch, we all sat in our places that we sat in every year to open gifts. Uncle Harold sat in the rocking chair near the fireplace. He always laughed a lot on Christmas day. We didn’t see him a lot the rest of the year because he was always working. I sat on the love seat near the tree. In my memory, there was always 3 feet of snow on the ground with an inch of playful snow that swirled around in the wind. After we were done opening gifts, we would have a fire in the fireplace. Christmas day was the only day of the year that my grandparents used the fireplace.

We always stayed at my grandparents until it got dark. We played with our new toys. The men slept in their chairs. Aunt Grace always made sure that the dishes were done. Grandma put away the extra food and took down the fancy table with the red tablecloth. It was Christmas perfection in a nutshell. Even if Matt had a meltdown on Christmas day, I never remembered that. I couldn’t remember that. To me it was always perfect and magical.

A few bulbs short…

I am a few bulbs short of a fully lit Christmas tree. I know that you were probably thinking the same thing.

Last weekend when we got our Christmas tree, we had to make sure that it was straight in the stand. This involved a little bit of swearing and sawing. At first it leaned too far to the right. Then too far to the left. Last year our cheap little plastic stand couldn’t hold our big tree. We woke up multiple times to a crash along with ornaments scattered (but thankfully not shattered) and pine pitch tree water all over our carpet. It couldn’t be blamed on the cat although he loves sitting under the tree. The tree stand just didn’t stand. After awhile I got sick of redecorating. Finally my husband couldn’t stand it anymore. He got a rope to anchor the tree in an upright position. He tied the rope around the tree and threw the other end of the rope out the window and closed it. It was quite the sight.

This year I pined for the perfect tree. And it was for a few days anyway. I think it is the most symmetrical tree that we have ever had. The girls and I took a long time decorating it. Then two days later we noticed that a strand of lights was no longer working. I tried replacing bulbs, but that did not work at all. I did not want to take all of the decorations off to remove the partially unlit set of lights. Not to mention shop to try to find the same exact set of lights that I bought a couple of years ago. So I rearranged the lights over the gap. Now the tree no longer looks perfectly symmetrical as far as lights go. And I am still a few bulbs short of a fully lit tree, although I try to hide that as best as I can.