This is me, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012. I look pretty damn happy, right? I’m at my brother and sister-in-law’s here and the three of us just finished opening presents. This amazing shirt was from my brother and I needed to show it off.
“Take a picture,” I said!
As my brother captured the moment on his phone, I mustered up the best fake smile I could. I needed to. This photo was proof to share on social media that I was just as happy as everyone else that Christmas.
Truth is, that photo was a complete lie. In December 2012, my life was a mess. I had some major personal stuff going on and I was so depressed because of it that I could barely eat. I’d had a panic attack at work a day earlier, I had very little money to my name, and to top it all off, I had no one to spend Christmas Day with. My parents, who live out of state, were supposed to come to visit me and my brother for the holidays, but they canceled their plane tickets two weeks prior.
Not wanting me to be alone, my brother and sister-in-law invited me to go to her family’s place on Christmas Day. I also had a few friends who knew of my situation offer their homes as well, but I was feeling too sorry for myself to accept their gracious invitations. I didn’t want their pitty invites either.
So, I spent Christmas Day, December 25, 2012 alone.
Truth be told, I don’t remember a lot of it. I remember thinking I was going to indulge in some self-care and take a bubble bath, but then I ruined it with a full bottle of wine I’d guzzled in the span of 10 minutes. It was a Riesling and I could feel the loneliness and self-hatred disappear with every gulp. I slept the rest of the day.
Don’t Do What I Did
I don’t share this as a pity story. I share this because I’m a cautionary tale when it comes to being alone for a major holiday. Because of COVID, a lot of us might be spending the holidays alone. If you fall in that camp, please know that I see you. I’m sorry we’re in this predicament. There’s literally nothing you did wrong. We’ve just been dealt a really shitty deck of 2020 cards.
For those of you that will find yourself alone for the holidays, or for those of you who have family and just miss your extended family gatherings, here’s what I WISH I’d done on Christmas. I wish I would have started my day off with coffee that’s more creamer than coffee. I wish I would have dressed up in my coziest outfit and made a giant nest of comfy blankets and pillows on my couch. I’d then listen to this six-hour loop of a crackling fire, light candles, and catch up on some reading while my dog napped beside me in my giant nest of comfort.
I wish I would have gotten a whole package of Reese’s Christmas Trees, or my other favorite guilty pleasure, Graham crackers and frosting. No need to portion it out. Just dip the graham cracker sheet in the tub of frosting. Because I would obviously need some real food eventually, I would have gotten a 4-pack of mini Mama Rosa’s pizza and eaten ALL of them while watching a good movie trilogy like Indiana Jones or Back to the Future. Essentially, I would have just chosen to do and eat things that make me happy and warm, and comfortable.
Most importantly though, I wish I would have taken up my family or friends’ invitations to their homes for the holidays. They didn’t invite me because they felt sorry for me. They invited me because they loved me. I know that there’s not going to be any physical gatherings this holiday season, but if someone says they want to do a Zoom call or play a game online with you, don’t be afraid to say YES! If I’d said yes to the human connection offered to me Christmas of 2012, I’d have saved myself a lot of tears and a hell of a hangover.
Peaks and Valleys
I know we’re all in shit valley right now and we didn’t choose to be here which makes it even MORE frustrating. Valleys don’t last forever though. I’ve been in my fair share of them to know. We’ll all reach our peak again someday. I just know it. In the meantime, please give yourself grace and love. Take it easy on yourself. I know you’re doing the best you can and I see you. You are worthy, loved, and strong.
Keep at it, warrior.