The first holidays I spent alone, officially single, I can only describe as relief. There was no double-duty, no eat here at this time and be at the next place at that time. I was actually so excited I didn’t have to go anywhere that I ate Thanksgiving dinner in my sweat pants, plus nobody questioned it because being divorced at the holidays is a free pass to get away with anything.
Christmas Eve is actually my favorite day, my sisters have a different mom so they spend Christmas day with her and Christmas Eve is always spent with our dad. So on my favorite day, to actually be able to sit with my family and not have to worry about being anywhere else is amazing. I technically never went anywhere anyways, my ex’s family celebrated on Christmas day. But inevitably, we would always end up fighting Christmas Eve because when he would come over he would never stay long, he had ants in his pants- he’d eat, open gifts, and leave. But I would get up the next morning and drive to his house for breakfast and gifts, come back to my mom’s to eat with whatever family members were around (it’s a family of cops, firemen, and nurses- everyone’s always working), then I would drive back to his house for dinner. That’s a typical holiday with a significant other and I was fortunate our parents lived close enough that travel really wasn’t an issue, I know plenty of people that travel out of state or actually celebrate Christmas on random days to fit in all of the family time. So, truly it was just relief to be able to relax and enjoy time with my family, since it seemed to have been something I realized I had always taken for granted.
Since I know my experience is so different I asked my friend Frodo (he looks like a hobbit) his thoughts. We got divorced at the same time and he has a daughter. He said the first two years were awful and it was an adjustment because all of his traditions, especially for his daughter, were ruined. He said he was forced to start new traditions and it took some getting used to. But he said it was funny I asked him about his feelings this year, because now he’s actually looking forward to the holidays. He’s looking forward to experiencing the new traditions he started with his daughter, and he’s looking at the personal time he’s set aside for himself as his gift.
I told him it was an amazing outlook and collectively, I think we’ve both gotten really good at spinning things in a more positive manner for ourselves. He actually said we weren’t spinning anything, we’ve just finally started to appreciate all of the things around us and all of the “bad” things that were happening really weren’t so bad after all. They forced us to think differently and change more of the things we didn’t like.
It was true.
I asked him about New Year’s and he said it perfectly, which is how I think most people feel. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde holiday. The first year I was single I was a raging lunatic, I was like a little wind-up toy that somebody set loose in a bar. I was fascinated with what single people were doing, it was like a classy version of Halloween! The following year I didn’t care as much, I still hated the pressure of planning something amazing. This year I’m indifferent and for another year I’ll be hitting the town with Roomie. We’ve got a pretty hot dinner date planned, burgers at our usual place and then a bar to meet our friends. I’m actually pretty excited about it and am glad we didn’t place any pressure on the holiday. It makes it easier and I’m just excited to go out and spend time with my friends.
I thought a lot about what Frodo said about how we’ve gotten better at appreciating things. My brother now sits in my dad’s chair for holiday dinners, there are extra chairs out now because my nephews have girlfriends. Something is always changing. There may be a time in the future when I can’t make it to Christmas Eve dinner because I’ll have to travel somewhere else to be with my super amazing significant other, or my nephews, as they get older, will spend the holidays with their significant others’ families. I’m thankful and appreciative for the time I have now and all of the people that fill each of those chairs. Just as Frodo said, when things change its embracing the new traditions that gives us a different kind of happiness when it comes to the holidays.
As for New Year’s, each year I find myself surrounded by new and amazing people that I get to call friends. I’m glad that I’ve been fortunate enough to have such great people in my life to spend the holidays with. It’s only made clear to me that the holidays aren’t a time to be sad or angry about what I don’t have, it’s about loving what I do have, and more importantly, loving the ones I’m with.
So whether you’re in LA- wishing you were home, sitting by a fire with a glass of wine, wishing for 5 minutes of peace and quiet, or waiting for the day that your holidays will finally be different. Stop, look around, and take a few minutes to really enjoy all of the moments. Those moments are the real gift. Love and appreciate who and what you have now, because when things do change, you’ll be that much more grateful.
To all of my friends and family and people reading this blog that I don’t know. Thank you. Have a great Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
While I was writing this my mom was yelling at me to go frost the half-assed batch of cookies I made. I told her to sit down and have a drink. Moms can be a real pain in the ass this time of year- that’s one thing that I think doesn’t change. (I’m getting smacked for that one.) 🙂
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. xo