Most people wax reflective on life and changes around the beginning of the year. Me, I start a month early, in December.
Hitting the month where Christmas becomes overwhelmingly powerful turns me into this weird childish adult. I love Christmas. I won’t deny it. I used to say that I hated it. But that’s because I didn’t have a kid and I had no reason to decorate my house or act all secretive and pretend to believe in Santa.
It feels strange to admit that I love Christmas to anyone, especially anyone who knew me pre-motherhood. I do. But it never fit me before. So I pretended to hate it. I had established this mold of myself inside my head and clung to it unrelentingly, even if it meant that I had to pretend to hate something that I didn’t actually hate.
I’m a huge cynic, but strangely, I’m also a pretty idealistic, and therefore positive person. Yeah, I know it’s confusing. Try being inside my head.
In other words, I expect the worst from everybody else and typically don’t judge others too harshly, because, you know, I didn’t really expect much from them anyway.
I have this T-shirt, it was a gift from my ex-husband years ago, he gave it to me not because I like the band (of course it was a band T-shirt, it was the 90s and we got married in our 20s), and not because I like T-shirts. But because of the tag line on the back.
It says, “It’s not that I think I’m great. It’s just that everyone else sucks.”
I’ve kept this T-shirt for years, not out of any sentimental attachment to my ex-husband, but because when he gave it to me, along with a declaration of, “This is just so you,” I felt like, for the first time in my life, someone from the opposite sex just got me. For a long time, I clung to this attitude that this is just who I am mostly because I loved that someone had not only accepted my flaws, but loved me because of them. (Of course, this wasn’t actually a flaw to him. Hence, one of the major problems of being married to him.)
Me on the other hand, I believe that I can do everything, and when I can’t, it bums me out, like majorly. In fact, it bums me out so much, that I often just suffer in silence, afraid to let anyone know I’m suffering or feeling anxious. This part of me, has also forced me to deny the ooey gooey softie parts of myself.
On the outside, I appear strong, unrelenting, casually fine, but the truth is, when I have the appearance of stoicism or casually saying, I’m fine, everything’s great!” That’s when it’s the worst. I’ve been told how strong I am, during my divorce I appeared outwardly like I was taking it all in stride, until that moment when sitting in my manager’s office, I burst into tears telling her about my divorce. Or not telling all my friends that at work I was doing great, but I’d come every night and be so weak from being fine all day that I couldn’t cook, so I just ate chips and salsa for dinner pretty much every night. And that I spent the weekends curled up in bed or on the couch, remote in my hand, cigarette dangling from my lips and turned into a complete zombie.
I write all of this so you can understand that I’m not the type of person who shares myself easily, even when I need it the most. But worse, it’s made me hide some of the fun parts of myself as well.
Except for now, becoming a mother, I’ve shared myself in the most intimate of ways, in ways that I never even knew I was sharing. And it’s becoming a mom that’s made me realize that I’m actually not nearly as cynical as I used to think I was.
Somehow along the path, I was told so many times that I was cynical, tough, gritty, acerbic, along with being witty and funny about it, that I accepted that as the entirety of my personality.
But when it comes to the holidays, I find that while I am those things, I am more.
Becoming a mother has made me embrace the softer spots in myself and it’s allowed me to show them to others. A few years ago, one of my best friends, who also became a mother around the same time I did, watched me coo over one of her babies, and said to me something along the lines of, “It’s just so weird to see you act like that.”
Before I had Annika, I was one of those women who would avoid holding babies.
So, I love Christmas. It makes me all soft and gooey inside. I listen to Christmas music. I watch for Christmas lights. I currently have two wreaths and a Christmas tree in/on my house. And a sign to Santa Claus letting him know he’s the best.
I have a Christmas loving kid and you know what? I think she got it from me.