i'm not the same one, look what the time's done....is that why you have let me go?

Once upon a time, I used to LOVE Christmas. Everything about it - the shopping, the crowds, the scents, the sounds. I loved driving around looking at Christmas lights, going to Christmas parties, I even went caroling a couple of times (which I'm sure the world has thanked me for stopping....). Several years of working retail at Christmas? Yea, didn't phase me. Wrapping 200 shoe shine kits at one of my jobs for a corporate Christmas present? Bring it on.
My favorite thing was always finding the perfect present for someone. I always put weeks of thought into it, and truly tried to think of something unique that I knew the other person would love and use. Over the years, I know I've come up with some pretty good things.

The last few years though, Christmas has lost its magic for me.

I still try to get in the spirit....I put up the tree, I listen to as much Christmas music as I can stand, I watch my usual Christmas movies....I decorate at work, and participate in anything holiday-related that I can. I do everything I know how to do, yet still come up short.

The gifts I buy are off a list, and now my goal is to just be done with it. The songs I'm listening to? 'Yule Shoot Your Eye Out', 'Green Christmas', 'Where are You Christmas?', 'Blue Christmas' (check out Low's version - infinitely superior to The King)...along with every other melancholy, tear-inducing song I have, and god only knows there are plenty...

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because so much of my family is a day away, and it's just not the holidays without them. Maybe it's because December has burned itself into my memory the last several years as a time of heartbreak and loss....

I'm sure it's a combination of all those things. How could it not be?

I miss the way things were...I miss being young and excited about the surprises Christmas morning would hold. I miss pancakes for breakfast after opening presents, and helping my mom with dinner. I miss spending time with my grandparents, and wish I had treasured that time more than I had when we had it.

All the silly traditions, all the stupid arguments...I miss them all. Those are infinitely preferable to how I'm spending my second Christmas in a row - at home, alone.
True, it's mostly by choice. I couldn't make it down to Tennessee to see my parents/sister/grandpa, and I turned down every invitation to Christmas dinner I received - I don't really want to spread my grinchiness around. I prefer to wallow alone, thank you very much.

Next year maybe it'll be different. Maybe I'll find a good memory to replace the bad ones. Maybe the hole that's been in my heart the last four years will start to heal itself over.

God, I hope so.

While I may be in no mood for this holiday, I still want to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas. I hope you all are safe, healthy, happy, and surrounded by those you love. Happy Holidays.

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