I was living with my soon-to-be first husband. His sister decided to beat us to the altar. So, she got knocked up. We had to take an impromptu trip to Florida (what a Christmassy feel south Florida has... the palm trees, the traffic, the slow-driving old folks). I went to the most unusual union ever. I was responsible for driving my soon-to-be father-in-law's
Getting ready to move four states away from my then husband so that we could do the long-distance marriage thing for our careers. Everything we owned was in boxes, and we forgot to buy anything for dinner. No restaurants were open in our podunk town, so we got burritos at the local convenience store for Christmas dinner. Then, we listened to our neighbors get drunk, argue, and play music all night long so that I could be well-rested for an 18 hour drive away from everything that I knew.
My father-in-law dropped dead of a heart-attack on the 21st. Apparently, he had spent the better part of the day knowing he was ill and might die, but was so afraid of having to go to hospital that he decided not to say anything. I had to tell my office-mates, that, nevermind, I can't keep the lab running over the holidays all of you with young children will have to come in over the holidays. Then, I flew to South Florida to attend services and witness his children going through his effects and helping their mother grieve. It was tragic for them, and difficult to witness. There was really nothing to say. That year, there was record cold in Florida. While we didn't have a white Christmas - we did get a frost.
We were still doing the long-distance marriage thing. I spent days getting everything just-so to make up for the horrible holiday we'd had the previous year. He arrived on Christmas eve and seemed distant and unhappy. That seemed reasonable. I didn't feel that terrific about the whole thing either. It seemed we'd grown apart some. Then, late-night on Christmas eve, I learned that he had been involved with a younger woman (named "Nanette", I kid you not).
I last saw my first husband walking away on Christmas day when he couldn't really decide which of us he loved. Lovely.
I was housemates with my dear husband J (this was before the whole husband part of the equation), and he had invited me to spend the Christmas holiday with his family. I just couldn't face another crappy Christmas or any false cheer, or getting over the angst of the previous four years... I wasn't fit company for anyone and just plain wanted to weather that Christmas by myself. So, I sent him on his merry way, let gun borrow my car as his was a little sketchy. His car stranded me no fewer than six times that week (it started like shit, so it flooded regularly when you didn't get it to turn over easily enough). I drank too much alone on Christmas Eve and sulked alone on Christmas day flipping stations in bed wearing sweat pants and drinking diet coke. It is kinda weird to say, but that was absolutely the kind of Christmas I needed at that moment.
That year, I bought myself a little ornament with a dove carrying a branch. I decided that that was my symbolic way of letting that string of bad-luck holidays go. I remember to be at peace with my life whenever I put it on the tree.
Christmas is a whole different joyful thing with children in a loving house. I really do appreciate what I have (even if I bitch constantly).
If you've got it, savor it.