Sunday night, I got some more clarity. Kelly and I went to a “Blue Christmas” service at our church. It was designed around people who have issues surrounding the holiday. Seeing as I’ve been attempting to appreciate (or at least not hate) Christmas, we thought we should go. It was beautiful. I found that a lot of the stress and anger I’ve associated with this time of year started to melt away little by little.
At one point in the service (near the end), the floor was opened up for testimonies. Which was a church-y way of saying what happened in the past to cause you to not like Christmas and where you’re at with it now – just your average run of the mill step in vulnerability. I wanted to go up there, I really don’t know why, but I didn’t know what it was that I’d say. So, I started to kind of rehearse it in my head. I pinpointed a phrase – disappointment. I realized that was a major theme throughout my life, but one Christmas, it just became too much, and I was done. I was done with the holiday, the season, gifts, and to some extent… joy.
I’ve talked about it some before (Purple Flannel), but I only told part of the story. You see, that Christmas, I watched my cousins open probably close to $1,000 worth of gifts, and I was given a flannel from Walmart that didn’t fit. I was told I was ungrateful when I asked for a ride to exchange it for one that would fit me properly. It’s not that I expected to get a video game system, or a basketball hoop, or cassette tapes, or any of the countless other gifts they got that year, but I did hope for something that was close to what I had wanted, or something that I needed, or anything I could use. That was the first of the disappointments. Then there’s the part of being family. I would have been more content just staying in my room not feeling out of place. They insisted that we come out for the presents. Looking back on it, I’m really not sure if that was so I could see how much I don’t belong or if they actually were trying to fit me in. Being out there in the living room, the divide between them and me felt like an uncross-able chasm. It was my first Christmas without my dad. My mom had totally checked out. I felt alone and hopeless.
I had hoped and prayed that that day would be different from the ones I had come to know in the four months of living there. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to have a day of peace, a day without pain, a day without the shame that was so thick around me it covered me like a blanket. But, it turned out that I would yet again face disappointment. What I learned is rapists do not take holidays.
It was that day that I decided I’d never have any expectations regarding the holidays. It was then that I suddenly was unable to receive a gift. It was then that I chose to be done.
Sitting in my chair at this church service, I began to cry. I realize now that I chose to hate Christmas. It’s not Christmas’ fault that I lived with monsters. It is my fault for taking what they did and making that the all encompassing factor of the holidays.