I have extremely fond memories of Christmas when I was a kid. We’d chop down a tree that first weekend in December, and decorate it when we got home. On Christmas morning, a roaring would be lit, we’d all sit around the tree, and I got to wear the Santa hat, being the elf of the family to distribute all the presents to their respective recipients. When we had unwrapped all our gifts, we’d have a delicious breakfast of french toast.
I love everything about Christmas, but I stopped celebrating it 16 years ago. I can now see I did that because of codependency. My ex-wife never wanted to get into the spirit of the season. She used to joke that she was like the Grinch or Scrooge. I convinced myself it wasn’t that big of a deal to let go of the holiday; I see now it was a coping strategy, a preventative measure from getting hurt.
Last year, it was my first Christmas after leaving my marriage. It was also when I realized that not celebrating Christmas was a habit, and not what I wanted. But I discovered that about myself on the morning of December 25th, looking around my living room and wishing I had a decorated tree. That’s the moment I decided 2021 was going to be different.
I took advantage of post-Christmas sales and bought a tree. I debated whether I should hold off and buy a real tree. But, Christmas pines don’t grow out in the wild, here in the warm Florida climate, so buying one from under a tent sounded about as appealing as getting an artificial one. Also, there’s something truly special about actually going to a tree farm, trekking through the snow between rows and rows of pine, looking for that perfectly triangular tree to cut down and haul home. I’ll keep that tradition if I’m ever living somewhere cold again for the holidays.
That tree stayed in its box, in my storage closet, all year. Until today.
For the first time as an adult, I’m getting into the Christmas spirit. And it started today when I decorated my very own tree.
Codependency sucks. I gave up something that brought me joy, because I thought that’s how compromise works in a relationship. It hurts to look back over the past couple decades and not have memories of wonderful Christmases. I’m grieving that. But, I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and this Christmas, I’m making new memories.