I loved holidays growing up, especially Christmas. I still love holidays somewhere inside of me, but big changes sideswiped me a few times and I see all those pretty lights from a different angle now. I mostly just say I’m tired, but really I think I just know too much. I think a lot of us sit back quiet in the festive shadows knowing too much.
Three of my worst Christmas memories are from working late night hotel desk. 1- Getting frantic whispered phone calls from women terrified of men at home about to beat them, begging for a room without having any money or a credit card, having to turn them down because I knew from experience we’d only be calling the police later anyway for domestic disturbance on hotel property, firmly telling them to call 9-1-1 before I’d hang up and knowing they wouldn’t… 2- Police dropping vagrants off at the hotel in the middle of the night because there was no other legal recourse and spending the rest of the night dealing with the Christmas tree being trashed by someone with schizophrenia and several officers having to subdue the mayhem while families cowered in their beds listening to the noise on Christmas Eve. 3- Working Christmas day and not being able to leave my job to attend my completely disabled & speech deficit mother being airlifted to hospital when I was the nearest and also her durable power of attorney, because my boss was a very bad word that I’m not going to say.
A few years before that we nearly lost one of our daughters over Christmas between two hospitals and a 200 mile emergency medical transport. We were split up for nearly two weeks, didn’t even bother decorating the tree or wrapping presents, cried every day.
A couple of years before that my sister lost her oldest child not long after Christmas. We’d known it was coming for years, but that doesn’t make Christmas any easier after it’s all over.
I think about other people going through hard things around Christmas. Hospitals are full of people having a really bad holiday. I’ve always thought that one day I’ll be a volunteer in a hospital and spend all my holidays there being a helper for families going through bad stuff.
And then there are people stuck at home. I never used to think about this until I became stuck at home myself for about 3 years. I needed assistance bathing and dressing and had to be driven places. It was all very depressing and sad and very difficult to look at Christmas lights and be happy.
I am in a very good place this year. My health is coming back, and we are far enough past losses to be springing back and looking forward again, especially with brand new grandbabies. But still I remember that there are silent people all around me, everywhere I go, who are very sad. I remember being very sad. I want to give everyone a hug.
Some of us don’t decorate for Christmas. Some of us don’t join in the singing and festivities. But we do watch. Even if we grump about it, we know we would still miss it if we didn’t get to watch. Those little bright lights are really important in the dark.