Mid-November to mid-January is my least favorite time of year. This did not use to be the case. I used to love it. I would eek out Christmas as long as I possibly could. I loved the lights, the color, the way it seemed to make everyone smile just a little more.
Then trauma entered my holidays. Take-my-breath-away memories. Heaviness and paralyzing fear replaced joy and anticipation.
Trauma isn’t my reality any more. It is the past. But trauma is a wily thing. It doesn’t seem to want to recognize time. Nor does it distinguish between real versus perceived versus non-existent.
This year the pounding in my chest, the lightheadedness and nausea still visited. They didn’t come with the flooding of memories, and they came less often, but their power was the same. I felt a suffocation to be happy. No one told me that was an expectation. No one shamed me for not being able to smile. But all around me was happiness. And cheer. And delight.
I just didn’t feel it.
As evidence of my changing reality, my love asked boldly on my behalf for a very un-crappy Christmas. Every day he asked the Father. My whole tribe was gracious to make Christmas as simple as I needed it to be. The tree went up, and we baked the memories we hold most dear. But that was it.
Christmas came, despite my protestations, and it was very un-crappy. I would even say it was lovely.
This is the place where I want share the life-changing lesson I learned. I want there to be a piece of enlightenment that will change every Christmas yet to come. But there isn’t.
I made it through the day. It wasn’t traumatic, and I experienced no panic. But I didn’t know joy either. Joy continues to elude me. Slowly I am building the muscle to not beat myself up about that. I am growing in self-compassion.
My simple Christmas did make me see less of the tinsel and more of the babe. My need is so great for the Hope that came into the world that night over 2000 years ago. In the absence of joy, I was acutely aware of my brokenness. I am so, so broken.
I confess this Christmas season what I wanted to know was not my brokenness but my healing.
So I am thankful for my Very Un-Crappy Christmas. I just want more.