Yuletide, the dark underbelly of Christmas.

Well, I hate to be a scrooge. But. It would seem that some sort of scrooge or grinch has designs on the our family Christmas celebration. This is definitely in keeping with our experiences throughout the year of 2012. This was the year when I marveled at how many times I considered the notion of rock bottom and while people in my family don’t necessarily think of things in those terms, there have been challenges at everybody’s doorstep this year. The year that we ought to forget, just as soon as it actually ends.

But, clearly, in our individual and collective lives, we have far more goodness than badness. And so I thought that I’d turn to my keyboard with the hope that a bit of writing will put things in perspective. There was a point, when my husband was boiling with anger and frustration (I know just how he was feeling) and while I was feeling empathetic and quite sorry for him, I was also thinking that this is all going to be laughable pretty soon. I mean really. How could more things go wrong for people who love Christmas as much as we do and who are as well ordered as we are (type A all the way)?

So let’s see….

My step-father died last month. He loooooved Christmas. Just like me. Just like my husband.

So we were that much more determined to have a quiet and merry Christmas celebration with my mom here in California. But, she’s sad. We are all sad.

Then, two days before Christmas, my husband got hit with a virus. He was in the sort of misery that makes a person consider the lightness of death vis a vis the heavy burden of severe distress of the digestive system (ahem). I played nurse, we cancelled all activities involving people coming to our house which meant that cleaning and childcare didn’t happen. This also happened to be the day that I started my period and the morning that I was past due for a “sleep in” with my husband on baby duty. And it was raining, cats and dogs. After speaking with an advice nurse, considering just what would happen at the emergency room (he was really in a state of misery), and carefully evaluating his condition, we decided to follow the nurse’s instructions for restoring fluids. It worked and as the sun set, he declared to be feeling a tiny bit better. By the next day he could get out of bed. That was Christmas Eve. Oh good!

But there are certain things that my husband always does to celebrate Christmas in honor of his deceased mother who absolutely loved Christmas. Christmas is the day that my husband and his father remember his mother and these personal rituals are very important to him. But he had to forgo them all. We had to tell his dad not to come because we did not want to risk him catching the ferocious bug that ravaged my husband’s body.

(At this particular moment I am feeling quite adamant about the custom of quarantine and rest when ill. Why people are so careless about this, I do not know. But we are pretty sure of the person who is responsible for this situation, and I must admit – with reservations – that if he were a person who celebrated Christmas, we would give him a lump of coal, and an earful. But that is why I have this lovely little cyber space.)

Also, we have very little money (like so many others, I know), and for us this means dramatic cutbacks on Christmas spending. Which is fine. Sure. For the best. Definitely. And yet, we love the fun of Christmas presents. But the truth is that we would not have had the time or energy to wrap them and keep them secret. For example, my mom and I just decided to go shopping together. That way we could buy each other exactly what the other wanted. Not so romantic. But we were happy.

We have purchased a lot of food. Which will be consumed, but not on the original schedule. We had a non-traditional breakfast which I ruined in my husband’s eyes by using sprouted whole wheat flour instead of the regular all purpose flour. I’m trying to keep the healthy of us healthy and bolster up my husband’s body. But, of all the meals, I picked the wrong one. He was quite unhappy with the situation and with me.

Then came the baby’s bout with the bug. Which isn’t so bad, so far. Except that we are now treating his waste as if it were radioactive. The bathroom has become a toxic dump with my husband the sole employee, since so far my mom and I have steered clear of the big bad germs. So my mom, the baby, and I all headed to the Pilates studio in order to use the bathroom. By the time we got back, the baby had had another episode contaminating all sorts of clothing on the three of us, and my husband had successfully stopped up the toilet by mistakenly flushing one of our reusable cloth baby wipes down with the evil vermin.

Over breakfast we shared memories of serene Christmases spent with loved ones. Those memories blended in my mind with the prose that I indulged in during the baby’s Christmas Eve nap. And it would seem that this Christmas is decidedly not going to make it on the the Top Ten Best Christmases Ever list.

But there were some really lovely moments:

When we turned the lights on the tree much to the baby’s enjoyment (we had left them off save a few minutes up till Christmas Eve)

Wrapping presents with my mom and realizing that now I’m part of the parent wrapping club. (It’s fun to assist Santa).

Listening to my husband read a Christmas classic over dinner.

Sleeping in thanks to baby.

Waking before baby in order to set up the video camera before he came out. Instead of rushing to keep up with him as happens nearly every morning, he seemed to know that we had something special in store for him.

Watching baby enjoy his gifts one by one. He still has more to open, he is napping now.

And many many more. Yes, there is plenty of good along with the rest.

While this is not the Christmas any of us would have asked for, it is the one that we have got.  It’s the one day that my husband expects to kick back and relax, which is a big deal these days in our little family.  The thing that I realized about Christmas today is that here in the US, it is the one break all year that we get save for a few businesses  being open.  Boy can we use a break!

I was thinking that it would be cool if we had one day like Christmas once a season.  One day when absolutely everything was closed.  All we can do is hunker down and mellow out.  Despite all our trials, it’s still a relaxing day for the simple fact that we don’t have much to do.  I like that, and I think that we could use a bit more of it.  Just another crazy idea that I cooked up…that and a tasty Christmas dinner are the order of this Christmas evening.  And once the babe sleeps, we adults plan to indulge in a bit of Christmas fun, just to put some smiles on our faces.

Merry Christmas!

1 thought on “Yuletide, the dark underbelly of Christmas.

  1. Alexa

    Yikes! You weren’t kidding about rottenness. I hope all is on the upswing as we’re looking to New Year’s Eve! This year’s Christmas in Michigan wasn’t the usual and I think we all had to adjust our expectations a bit. I’m glad you’ve got the good bits of the California Christmas recorded! Love!


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