Why I May Never Like Christmas Again

On 9 November 2009 by Jessica

Now that we’re past Halloween, “the holidays” are bearing down on us like a freight train. That is, as far as I’m concerned, a little bit good and a little bit bad.

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving – it is, by a long shot, my very favorite holiday of the year. It’s all about food (great food, too, if you’re eating at my mom’s house) and there’s no obligation to buy or give presents to people who, in all likelihood, don’t need whatever nicknack you’ve gift-wrapped for them. The biggest part of my affection for Thanksgiving is that it’s about getting together with some of the people I love most in the world. The TV might be on in the other room for part of the day because of some football game, but the vast majority of the time is spent sitting around a table surrounded by people I love, breaking bread and sharing wine with them and enjoying conversation that is always wonderful. Always.

Christmas, however, has lost much of its lustre for me.

We’re coming up on two years since my dad died, four days before Christmas in 2007. I joked at the time (well, soon after) that was so typical of a Jew, to die at Christmastime. (For those who never met my dad, rest assured he’d have laughed his ass off at that. He had the best sense of humor on earth, bar none, and luckily my brothers and I all inherited it.)

That year it was devastatingly difficult to get through “the holidays,” for understandable reasons. Last year, I knew the first anniversary would be tough. But I wasn’t anticipating that the first time I heard Christmas carols in the grocery store that I’d actually get pissed off. What business, I almost thought, does anyone have being so fucking jolly when I and my family have to remember our loss?

I got through “the holidays” last year almost through gritted teeth.

This year, I’m just not sure what to expect. I haven’t heard any Christmas carols yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, and I don’t know how I’ll react when I do hear it. I’ve had vague thoughts that I should start putting together a Christmas letter this year, which is something I haven’t done since Dad died. I don’t know if I’ll actually get around to it, and have also thought that maybe I should send out a yearly update in (let’s say) March or April just to get it away from a time of year that I just don’t like very much anymore. Because it’s not the newsletter I don’t like – I loved putting that thing together every year – it’s just now I can’t think of anything but depressing shit to put in it at the time of year when you’re “supposed to” send those things out.

I guess the bottom line is that I’m still adjusting to what life is like since Dad died. You always hear the first year is the toughest, and so far I can attest to that being true, but it’s not like the second year gets exponentially easier or that I ever expect there to be a year when I feel like everything’s back to normal. I may never like Christmas music again, or feel happy around “the holidays.” I have no idea.

I’m just glad – and this one’s for you, Dad – he didn’t die at Thanksgiving. I never would have forgiven him for that one.

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9 Responses to “Why I May Never Like Christmas Again”

  • My best friend / cousin died one September when I was a teenager, so the whole “holiday season” from Halloween to New Year’s was pretty much shot for years afterward. The only holiday I still really looked forward to was Easter– springtime, new beginnings and all that. It took a while, but one by one I finally got all my holidays back. Christmas held out the longest; it didn’t really feel like Christmas until last year when the nephews arrived and gave me something else to focus on. But at the same time it tore the wounds open again, seeing the next generation come along and knowing she wouldn’t get to see them. I can absolutely corroborate the fact that joy and pain can be very hard to separate. Best of luck to you, and my sympathies for the loss of your dad.

  • Oh! How I share the same feelings! My dad died more than a month after Christmas but we were at the hospital on Christmas. Since then, we don’t celebrate Christmas anymore as we used to. It only hurts. It’s been 3 years but…

  • My mother, who grew up so poor that Christmas was never “celebrated”, checked out of this life on December 20th, several years ago. She always said she never liked Christmas so it seemed appropriate that she wouldn’t want to stick around to see another one. However, she always made Christmas enjoyable for my sister and me.

    As you get older, the holidays tend to get more quiet unless you have grandchildren to celebrate it with. Since I have none, it’s just another day to me and a means of watching another year come to a close. Let’s be honest, Christmas is really a holiday for children or observing Christians. Besides, retailers make most of their money on the Christmas holiday period so it’s important for our economy. Or you can celebrate the Solstice like the pagans do.

  • I’m so sorry. It is hard. My great grandmother died 2 weeks b4 my b-day and I still remember everything (it was 15 yrs ago) ; my grandfather died 7 yrs ago around Easter. Now I’m not the biggest fan of Easter anyway, but each time the Holiday approaches it’s hard not to make the connection.

    And btw: I cannot stand carols. But they’ll start playing them by 1st of Dec for sure.

  • That is a good idea, Debbie… The problem is that my holidays are so scripted each year – part of them spent with my mom, and part spent with my in-laws in Pennsylvania – that there’s very little room (if any) for any out-of-the-ordinary fabulousness. I do love spending time with my family, so that’s always good, but it’s bittersweet, I guess.

    Maybe one of these years I’ll just take off over the holidays and go somewhere I’ve never been, thereby completely confusing myself to the point where that “remapping” you’re talking about (very cool concept, by the way) happens by itself.

  • UGH, I feel for you. You won’t (and shouldn’t) ever forget that this is the time of year you lost your dad, but maybe try to “remap” that part of your brain by doing something really over-the-top fabulous this year – that way you’ll have something enjoyable to remember too.

    Sending good wishes your way…

  • Loosing a loved one is painfully difficult at the best of times, let alone loosing your Dad at Christmas time!

    Jessica you may never like Christmas music ever again, but I hope that some time soon you and your family are able to enjoy Christmas once more.

  • Thanks, Annie… One of the things I’ve told people who lost someone after Dad died is that it doesn’t get BETTER, but it does get EASIER. So I figure that’s what will happen – if anything happens – with regard to how I feel about Christmas. But, of course, only time will tell.

  • I agree 100% with your sentiment about Thanksgiving. It’s why it’s my favorite, too.

    And, I agree, it seems like bad things happen around the holidays, and you wonder why people get so jolly. The first year is the hardest, and while I can’t say it gets that much easier, eventually you remember the joy. The joy that a little one has when they get their doll or truck. The joy of the women singing songs in the kitchen while the men have a drink and watch TV. The precious moments start rising to the top, and while the sadness, shock, and hurt is still there, it dulls a bit and allows those good times to shine.

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