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The First Christmas

Okay, I know it’s not yet Thanksgiving and lots of people have opinions on when we’re actually allowed to celebrate “The Holidays.” But I’ve gotta be honest and say that I am SO READY for Christmas this year!

I’ve never enjoyed this time of year, if you want to know the truth. My brother died a couple of weeks after Christmas in 1979, and as a result my childhood Christmases were not especially happy ones.  My parents did their best, but it was always a kind of somber time of year. And as I got older, it just got worse. There’s so much stress in trying to find the right gift for loved ones, knowing how much to spend, how personal to get, and whether it’s better to get one big present or lots of small ones.  And GETTING presents is just as stressful because inevitably, as grateful as I am that someone cares enough to get me anything at all, I find that I’m usually disappointed in whatever I get because it isn’t the thing I would have picked for myself.

And obviously as grown-ups, there’s the added knowledge that if we need or want something, then we can get it for ourselves at any point during the year. So putting something off until Christmas can get frustrating.

Anyway, I remember our first Christmas together in 2010. I was eight months pregnant, and it was Mark’s and my first holiday season together. It was just the two of us, as we had no family in the UK, and all of our friends had places to go. And since I always get depressed, it was simply just another day in our lives. We exchanged gifts, but it really didn’t feel like much of a holiday.

Christmas 2010

And then came our first child together, Dexter, who made our little family complete. I was so excited all year, thinking that when Christmas rolled around, I’d be super excited once again. And we even had an extra guest on Christmas day since my best friend Pat would be coming ’round to hang out.

But though our family felt complete, the depression still set in, and by the time ’twas the season, I had lost my holiday hard on. I just wanted to get it over with and get in to 2012.  If I’d known it would be our last Christmas in England, I might have made more of an effort and tried to make it extra special. Maybe even taken Dex to see Santa at Harrods or something. But it wasn’t to be. We simply opened presents, took a few photos and moved on.

Christmas 2011

By last year, we had moved to Florida and were expecting our second child. Dex was old enough to get somewhat excited, but we didn’t bother to decorate or get a tree because we had plans to visit Mark’s family for the holidays. But when my obstetrician put me on immediate bed rest the day before we were to leave, we realized we’d have to have a very last minute Christmas. We got a tiny tree and some dollar store decorations, and we managed to save the day. But it still wasn’t much of a celebration. Luckily our apartment complex had had a Santa in a few weeks before, so we at least got our (now traditional) holiday photo in front of the tree.

card

And now… it’s a whole new year. One of the worst years of my life, to be sure, but a year in which I have SO much to be grateful for. I have two beautiful sons, a brand new husband, and I am alive and mentally and emotionally sound. I FEEL the spirit in me.

This year is a year for a little extra holiday cheer. And if that means I start a little early by digging through bins at the Goodwill for discarded Christmas decorations to begin the process of transforming our happy home into an even happier one, then that’s what I do.

We may not have snow or cold weather, but that didn’t stop us from making a stop at Starbucks for hot chocolate and snowman cookies yesterday.

Starbucks hot chocolate and a snowman cookie

This year it’s all about catching that Christmas cheer in a big old glass and then mulling it up with some cinnamon and nutmeg so we can drink it down and get drunk off the holy spirit! It’s going to be like a holiday rebirth. My FIRST Christmas.

I can’t wait.

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