Yesterday, I asked Jeremy if we were going to put up a Christmas tree. It is not my natural inclination to put up a tree – even if we were staying for Christmas, but I was admiring an absolutely beautiful artificial tree at Alice’s house and wanted to buy the same brand (Balsam Hill). The tree we have is from Target or Home Depot for about $100 bought the day before Christmas probably the first Christmas we were in the house – 2008. I could probably look at photos and see it there. That thing, for the past few years, has looked a little bit ragged. We are missing some branches and the needles are forever shedding all around. But we are spending a lot of money these days – so I think the new fake tree will have to wait. I don’t want to put it up because I’m the one to do it every year (even though various (usually young, easily distracted) people enthusiastically start setting it up with me), and I also take it down every year and sometimes I resent it. But there are things, in my old-er age, that have turned from simmering resentment into something of a joy – for example, I do enjoy picking out gifts for people. For years, I got all pissy that I would buy all the gifts for everyone (most notably the gifts for Jeremy’s family and the teacher’s gifts), but recently, I’ve really come to enjoy doing this. Honestly, it wasn’t that Jeremy wouldn’t buy gifts, it’s that he would do it on Dec 22st and hope that Amazon would deliver by Christmas which absolutely would drive me bonkers. And I think, now, that I’m a pretty good gift giver. So now I take my time and I buy gifts (well this year, I started early Nov) for everyone and if Jeremy wants to add something on the 22nd, he’s totally fine doing that. I also cut out asking for Jeremy’s opinion on gifts and waiting for him to weigh in or for him to say – oh, but what about this other thing? – and just buy them, so it feels like I’m in control more. Also, surprisingly I enjoy picking out greeting cards for people. I like the 5 minutes I spend in the store thinking about the person and thinking what kind of card the person would like. It reminds me how much I like and value the person. I don’t do this often, but when I do, I get joy.
I’m trying to be nice to myself this holiday season. Mostly because there are a lot of sad things happening around me. I miss my brother who has, for a reason unknown to me, decided to stop speaking to me about four years ago. I had always thought we had a warm relationship, but I can only conclude that he thinks his life is better without me in it which is a painful conclusion to come to. If he does think that, I hope he is doing well and is happy and I will let him go. Though sometimes it feels like my arm has gone missing and I’m looking for it, not remembering where I had left it or how it got cut off. Mostly it feels like a part of my heart is forever wounded and I’m patching it up with needle and thread and a band aid and hope that it keeps going and that maybe he will come back to me someday. However hard it is for me, I know it’s harder for my parents. And, of course, these painful things are always harder around the holidays.