Six years ago, I wrote my first post about Christmas (or another holiday) without children, and talked about my practice of reclaiming Christmas. I wrote,
But understanding the grief that we won't ever celebrate Christmas with our own children doesn't mean that Christmas has to be lost to us. If it was important to you before children, it can be important to you afterwards. It might not be what you always wanted, but let's face it, what in life is exactly as we had envisaged it, or just how we always wanted? And so I stamp my feet a little, and say "Christmas is NOT just for children. It's for all of us, to make our own."I still feel that way, but would simply perhaps add, "if we wish." Because there's nothing wrong with not wanting to celebrate anything at this time of year, or choosing to celebrate life with friends or partners or even simply with yourself.
In 2011, I was staying at my mother's house in the south, and we were spending a quiet Christmas morning, and I was at peace, and hoping all you were at peace too.
In 2012, I remembered Decembers in the past that had been exceedingly painful, and delighted that the pohutukawa trees that previously always brought back memories of that time now brought me joy in their blooms.
In 2013, I wrote three posts inspired by the season. In the first, I caught myself when I felt a little jealous of a friend, and reminded myself that someone else's happiness does not affect my own. In the second, I talked about including childless relatives. And in the third, I reminded myself and us all that we are not alone.
In 2014, I wrote about my ideal holiday if money were no object, and what we actually to do in the real world.
Last year, I was relaxed on Christmas Eve, feeling a little melancholy, but about other things rather than about being childless and alone on Christmas.
This year I feel much the same - a bit (though not badly) melancholy. It's the first Christmas without my mother, and I feel sad about her last few years. Neither my husband nor I have any confirmed work for next year, so I feel uncertainty and a small degree of fear. I can't look back on 2016 with any satisfaction, other than simply (so far) surviving it. I feel a bit lonely too, as none of the overseas relatives are returning home this Christmas, the sons having rushed home when FIL had two heart attacks in April. Of course, I have just been at a celebration in the south with my family, so I can't complain about not seeing my sisters or nieces or great-nephew. Still, friends also tend to leave town at Christmas, going places with family or staying in the country or at the beach - anywhere where the weather is better - and so here there'll be just be us and some elderly relatives. And have I mentioned that this year I don't even get to control the Christmas menu? I have hardly even had any Christmas shopping to do, and although I sometimes find it stressful, I also find it very satisfying, and enjoy being able to buy gifts for people in my life.
However, it's not all doom and gloom. I'm going to do some Christmas baking soon, and will give that as gifts. My Christmas tree is up, and looks great. I'll arrange to catch up with the friend who is going to be remaining in town, and perhaps we'll do some overnight visits to other friends. I think I'll do a meal of our favourite things, just for my husband and I, on Christmas Eve, to make up for not choosing the menu on Christmas Day. And I have had a wonderful offer of accommodation somewhere exotic for Christmas 2017, so I can start thinking about if we can afford that, or at least do it cheaply. Enjoying and making the most of what I have - this is what I mean about reclaiming Christmas.
Besides, by this time next week it will be a distant memory, and I can focus on going on summer walks and picnics and playing with my camera outside, and having some friends over for barbecues, and fixing our house, and enjoying the summer, and maybe planning a road trip to visit my sister up north, and planning an international trip in May, and maybe getting a project finished that has been on hold all year, and maybe kicking off a small business that I don't expect will ever make much money, as long as it will make enough to make a few things tax deductible, and thinking about the New Year always makes me feel a little enthusiastic about the unknown opportunities that might come to us, allowing me to wipe the slate clean.
It seems that I did have some things to say after all.