On my german blog I posted a story about my family last week. It was about how my mother made our Christmas festivities a celebration of life.
My grandmother and my uncle passed shortly before Christmas, so we are always grateful for those who are still with us. We also remember those who aren’t, but mostly we try to be thankful for what we have. Christmas in our family brings together life and death, the circle of life is completed. My mother always makes sure we toast “to life”.
My mother also made a point to invite friends over who were alone on Christmas. It never made celebrating less wonderful, our guests always brought something fresh and new with them. And it made our friends feel so much better.
I know a few people for whom this Christmas may be difficult. I am to far away to celebrate with them, but I made a point to reach out for them. Wished them a merry Christmas and told them when we would meet again to give them something to look forward to. And they know they can talk to me if they need to. It’s all I can do for them, but I try to do at least something.
…are very close in my family this Christmas. There was the death of my uncle on the one side, and meeting with my parents and the fact that Christmas reminds us of Christ’s birth on the other side. My mother was a little bit sad, but mostly she was relieved her brother does not have to suffer anymore. We had a glass of prosecco before the meal and toasted to the living and the dead.
The relationship we had with my uncle’s family was very complicated at times. For years there was no contact, and we still don’t know why. When we went to bed, I felt like I was stuck at that time. I was a teenager back then, and I felt hurt and irritated on one hand, and I saw how much my mother suffered on the other hand. When we started talking again, it never was the same for me again.
On Christmas Day my self pity was over, and I thought how terrible my aunt and my cousin must feel: A woman lost her husband of more than fifty years… A daughter has to live without her father from now on. THAT is bad.
I asked my mother for my cousin’s mobile phone number, we know my aunt can’t deal with this right now.
Then I spent two hours thinking about what to write (I hate platitudes). Finally I gave up and texted that I was at a loss for words, and that our thoughts are with them. My cousin replied quickly, thanked me and said, she will let us know when the funeral takes place as soon as they know the details.
And then something strange happened: I remembered all the good moments before our families parted ways for many years. How I played with my cousin at a lake near their home, how my aunt’s mother read to us, how we went horseback riding together. And I started to smile, not everything was bad after all. My anger disappeared, and I felt more at peace.
I am dreading the funeral ceremony, because this will bring up lots of feelings again, but I try not to think about it too much right now.
And in light of recent events: Hug your loved ones tight!
Christmas is almost here, and with each passing day I am feeling worse. I am angry with myself.
I spent a great deal of this year working on my issues concerning involuntary childlessness, which were triggered by the pregnancy of my sister-in-law. But to be honest, I am still not ready to spend Christmas with the in-laws.
My biggest fear is pushing myself too far and undoing months of hard work in therapy. When I told my psychiatrist and therapist about this, both told me this is a possibility, and that I should be very careful.
Today is the 18th anniversary of my grandmother’s death. She died of cancer in the same year I was diagnosed with melanoma. I will never forget our last meeting, in which she looked already very ill.
When I talked to my mother earlier today, she told me my uncle (her brother) died yesterday. He had been ill for a long time, and his health had been worsening for months. We weren’t that close, but it hurts nonetheless. I am very grateful he left this world in peace, and that he was loved and taken care of by his wife and his daughter until the very end. And I am grateful that my mother copes quite well for now: Of course she is sad, but she is also relieved that her brother doesn’t suffer anymore, and that the two of them had a good relationship for the last decade (what wasn’t always the case).
But nevertheless we will gather together tomorrow and celebrate life.
This Christmas was everything but contemplative and quiet. On Christmas Eve my parents came over. At first Sam was restless and kept barking, but we knew he would settle down eventually. He did, and everything seemed fine.
When my mother stood up from the table to follow me into the kitchen, Sam jumped on her. She lost her balance and hit a doorframe with her elbow. She will see a doctor about this today, so I know it hurts pretty bad.
This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, or my back, in this case. The straw that had kept piling up since Sam came to live with us. Every time I had to put him in a separate room to keep him from attacking postmen, neighbors, friends or relatives added straw. Every time he kept pulling on the leash during our walks so my husband and I ended up tense and nervous and I struggled to keep up with the pack (I am using a walker) added straw. Every time he barks wildly at the door or the windows when a car or a neighbor passes the house added straw. Every time he tried to attack bikers or joggers added straw. Right now, I don’t care that Sam is sweet, affectionate and cuddly with us. I don’t care that my husband takes the blame for what happened on Christmas Eve and says he didn’t pay enough attention to Sam. I don’t care everyone says we are Sam’s last chance. It never should have happened and I feel so discouraged and helpless and don’t know what to do.
On Christmas Day, we drove to my sister-in-law, who lives a about 115 km from here. As a christmas present we were told she is seven weeks pregnant. Bummer. We are involuntarily childless, so this announcement reopened many old wounds. A hasty retreat wasn’ t an option, we all had been invited to stay the night. Because of the events of Christmas Eve, I was even more tense and had a close eye on Sam. The guest bed was really hard and uncomfortable, we called it a night at five thirty in the morning and tried to leave the house silently to drive home. The car had other plans, the battery was dead. When we rang the doorbell to get in again, we woke everybody in the house. My husband managed to sleep a few hours after that, my night was over. About nine in the morning, my brother-brother-in-law helped us to jump start our car from his own vehicle and we finally were on our way home.
From today until New Year’s Eve it’s business as usual, my husband has to work. I really hope nothing else happens and my nerves can calm down.
Christmas is next week, but I don’t feel like it. A white Christmas is unlikely in this part of Germany, and so the Christmas decoration is the only thing reminding you it’s the third week of December when you go shopping. The air is full of stress, while everybody buys presents like there is no tomorrow, or as if the regular occurence of Christmas comes as a big surprise. This year was a hard one, I just want to take a breather. Maybe my mood will get better next week, when I prepare for my parents’ visit on Christmas Eve.