I’ve always loved the holidays – the lights, the gifts, the music, the television specials, the anticipation! And I still love all those things, but a confluence of several factors including my divorce and the death of my dad have changed things. There is an empty place in my heart.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for joyful gatherings. But I always feel like a giant zit under a magnifying glass when I’m alone there these days. I rarely feel self-conscious, but inevitably I do at holiday parties.
I feel it particularly strongly at family gatherings. Except for my widowed mother and grandmother, I’m the only one not coupled up and the only adult without kids. It makes me feel like Forrest Gump at the Black Panther party, and like I screwed up all the things you’re supposed to be and do as a grown-up. Here I am, 46 years old and alone at the holidays without any “family.” And it’s my fault for quitting and walking away from my marriage because I thought I could find something better.
Disney and Hallmark and all the others have conspired to make me believe in happy endings, in love stories, in holiday magic. I have daydreamed countless scenarios where my magical holiday ending finally happens. My imaginary stories are so romantic, full of kisses and Christmas lights and love!
But a life’s true story isn’t wrapped up tightly in a bow after two hours. There are very few happy endings. And there are many, many sad and lonely people.
Every year at the holidays, I swear this time will be different. I’m going to beat the holiday blues. I’m going to love myself. I will be enough. I’ll have more gratitude. I will find joy.
I will not have a prolonged anxiety attack from Thanksgiving Eve through Christmas Eve.
So far on night one of the countdown, I’m not starting out too well…