I love Christmas, we are atheists, but Christmas traditions from music to food is as close to a religious experience that we could get in the Bailie house and not because of any shepherds or stars, but because I need them to be just so. It is only in the last year or so that I have asked myself “What the f**k are you doing?”, because Christmas equals pure joy to me and I hate having it tainted or mocked by people, who I always assumed couldn’t see the magic and/or were dead inside/a dickhead? Turns out…I am the dick. I am the taint.
Since I can remember Mr B has always quizzed me about my Christmas problem, my problem being that I’m excited for 2 months, i’m emotional, i’m practically giddy and then the big bonanza of a day arrives and I am quite simply…bereft. I mourn the loss of Christmas throughout most of Christmas day and in turn not only spoil it for myself, but basically ruin everyone else’s day who happen to be in a 2 mile radius of my sadness. Speaking of Sadness, if you have seen the film ‘Inside out’ the character Sadness is me, actually me. I legit cannot feel my legs on Christmas day and demand to be dragged through to boxing day.
Last Christmas I did not give you my heart, but I had a good look at my behaviours and had a huzzah “Ohhhh…” moment. You see in my childhood home, the days and nights were filled with dread, fear and anxiety from both physical and emotional abuse by the very people who should’ve loved me the most. My parents. However…Christmas was a time for pretending. We would wake up to Christmas music, we would have chocolate for breakfast, we would have so many presents we would still be opening them at lunch, we had special pyjamas, we watched Christmas movies, we laughed and it was truly magical. Even though we repeated the same pattern every year, every year I would hang on to the hope that come Boxing day – it would stay like this, I genuinely wished it could be Christmas every day, because Christmas at my house was a full blown extravaganza of joy and happiness, but every year Boxing day would arrive and the pressure of the parenting pretence would slowly melt away. The tinsel would then be stored and the tree would be taken down and as if by magic – everything was unfortunately ‘back to normal’.
So does knowing why I love/hate Christmas help? Not really, but also perhaps it does…I still haven’t lost the fierce love for Crimbo come November and I can already feel the dread of the day rising in my throat, but today I can feel the salt water hitting my eyes and I can now stop myself and say “you know why”. I do know why, but it doesn’t mean that 32 years of behaviours and habits will radically change over night. There is a huge part of me and I know this sounds ridiculous coming from an abusive home, but I still hold onto that hope. The hope that I felt as a kid every Christmas day was addictive and every year I allow myself to feel it, except now I do it in spite of myself. Christmas days with my Dad were the best. He is so funny and he is the reason I am funny, he is the reason I love the movies I love, the music I love and he is a huge part of my hope and in turn my despair. I know there is no hope for us, but for some reason I cling onto the memories of laughing with him and so every year come November I get excited and then every year, this one included I get deeply sad for the day that wasn’t real, for the memories that were staged and now for my tainted memories of Christmas.
How do I cope? I don’t. Honestly, I have to take each day as a new day, I take things slowly, I surround myself with people who genuinely know me and who nourish my mind and heart. I am kind to myself. I really try. Those Christmas day ‘memories’ are my favourite memories and by realising that it is OK to cherish them makes me feel better. Instead of focusing on the drama that surrounded my Christmas memories it is truly joyous to just live in the memories of my genuine happiness, because Christmas Day at my house was the best day.
How do you cope at Christmas? Is this a bittersweet time for you? The more pope I share my story with, the more people I am connecting with through similar backgrounds and it is both overwhelming and incredibly humbling. Thank you so much for the connection and community that you to bring to my posts, pages and life. I appreciate every comment and message and I wish you all a very merry Christmas x