The Joys of Christmas

I look forward to the Christmas season every year. And every year I am disappointed.

It seems that I aim too high, focusing on all the good things that happen at this time of year, but what seems to happen most often is that all the negative aspects of family life come to the forefront this time of year, rearing their ugly heads and reminding us all of how complex the family is, how duplicitous it can be.

I don't exactly know why I love Christmas so much, since it seems to be so full of stress. But I do. I seem to forget about the extremes in emotion through the season, the buried emotions coming to the forefront, the angry outbursts that always happen between siblings, or mother and daughter, the past coming back to haunt us all, whether we realize it or not. What I remember about Christmas and look forward to is the family gathering together, the warmth, the love for my husband and my kids, the laziness, the wood fires we have in the fireplace, the look on my children's faces when they open their gifts, Christmas morning when my children are beyond excited and cannot wait to show us what Santa put in their stockings, all the beautiful music. The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, what we are actually faced with during this holy season is something very different. I don't know how this happens, but it does. Every year. People look forward to getting together, to seeing one another, and then when they actually do get together, the old arguments and grudges slink back up, ready to pounce unexpectedly. Adults turn into children again, and siblings end up arguing over the most inane things, reverting back to the years when they all lived together under roof and drove each other crazy on a daily basis.

Deeper frustrations come to the forefront, despite everyone's vow to keep everything calm and pleasant. Not-so-pleasant memories come flooding back, and inundate what could be quiet and enjoyable evenings around the table. Nasty comments go back and forth, beastly names are called, and unpleasant looks of annoyance and outrage are doled out. All things we dislike about one another seem to be the main topic of distraction, and no matter how we try, there they are, like a splinter.

Is it just our family, or does this happen everywhere? I can't see how it could only be us. After all, we are never alone.

And yet, we still look forward to these annual get-togethers. It's all about the joy, the togetherness, the love. Until, that is, we're actually there in the moment, and gradually the annoyance, the hatred, and the desire to be apart are very apparent, at times overwhelming.

Unfortunately, the holidays often seem to end on that note, this definite undertone of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, of old wounds ripped open again. And by mid-January, they begin to heal once again, and are buried deep within, only to rise again to remind us that love and family are anything but simple and easy. We do this all our lives, almost in a strange attempt to revisit, to try and resolve the unresolvable. Little reminders of all the complexities of our little lives. What we hold closest to our hearts is that which hurts the most.


Travel Writer said…
Wounds sure does heal with time. Disappointment, frustration all comes with life.
kel said…
That's family though.. can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! If your like me though, you can bitch all you want about them, but if an outsider chimes in with a remark, you want to kill them!
I know what you mean. I love Christmas as well, but it seems the older i get the more I dread the holidays. This year my sister (my only sister) and I didn't even see each other because we haven't been speaking for about a month now, which sucks because it was my only niece's first Christmas, hopefully it will be better next year.
Bon Don said…
Wow, you hit the nail on the head with that one!
Anonymous said…
I don't have a great relationship with my family, so I dread the holidays because it reminds me of this fact.
lagirl said…
That's why God made Blogs - you can hang out in Blogland minus all the baggage.
Bee said…
I feel so bad. I have to admit to feeling that way at my in-laws Christmas day because I did not get along with my BILs girlfriend. This year was awesome though. as far as my family goes, we always get along great.

Its a shame you can't just hang out with your hubs and your kids. I'm sure that would make people talk too. :o(

I hope you have a Happy New Year! :o)
Eudea-Mamia said…
Oh no, you're not alone. Maybe next year we can start a movement "Family: you have to love them, but you don't have to like them."

Think of the freedom we will give to people?!

Norman Rockwell should have been stopped.
Anonymous said…
It's definitely not just you. I never in a million years would have thought that my family would be ripped apart by issues but within the last few years, it's amazing how much ill will has built up between people. The holidays force people together that would never want to be in the same place if they didn't have to and ugliness is bound to come out.

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