This is a proud little me many Christmases ago, showing off my new outfit and my self-painted nails using my new Strawberry Shortcake nail polish. Happy Mandy!
And today is the very first Christmas in all my life that I have woken up alone. It wasn't supposed to turn out that way, but life happened. Christmas Eve With My Girl didn't pan out. I have mixed feelings about this.
Below is the image and caption I posted on Facebook. You can view the original post here.
Well the night didn't go as expected. I couldn't drink more than a glass of my gross wine concoction and have opted for a kale/berry smoothie instead.
Also, I found out that Paige's friends were having a shindig that she was bummed to be missing out on, so after we shared our awesome meal, I gave her the ok to go party it up with them instead. She was so happy! And I genuinely don't mind. I know she would have stayed if it was super important to me but I'm good. I'll see her again tomorrow afternoon.
Til then, I'm listening to Christmas albums on YouTube, hanging with my other girls, and will probably watch Love Actually or Sex And The City since Paige has the collection here.
What are you up to? Have you left milk and cookies out tonight?
Christmas meant so much to me as a little girl, but over the years it turned into something very negative for me through my dad's alcoholism and my mother's insensitive and endless demands that were placed only on me.
I imagine she was unconsciously hoping that her daughter might be able to fill that hole that everyone else in her life had left over the years. It was a heavy burden to bear (especially at Christmas) and her unrealistic expectations of me only increased once she was diagnosed.
I grew to dread the holidays and resented gift giving that felt like I was filling out an order, and even after she passed, the lingering negative associations remained in tact.
Christmas to me meant the trade of physical things and the complete lack of anything genuine. There was no real connection going on. Just the mindless thingamajig swap that most people do to maintain the status quo. Pretend there's love even if no one feels it. Spend money you don't have on things no one needs for people you're bitching about behind their backs. It never made sense to me.
If the relationship was non-existent and completely unfulfilling the rest of the year, what difference was a day of gifts going to make? It certainly couldn't make up for what was truly lacking.
But maybe for some, it can. It just never hit the spot with me.
Gifts were my mother's way of showing her love, and she certainly gave me plenty of them each year, but I was deprived of what I really needed and wanted: love that I could feel in my heart; not hold in my hand.
Thankfully, over the years I had my "families by heart" who added so much light and love for Paige and I that really balanced out the visits with (and pressure from) my mother. We've never been without the really good stuff. And by stuff I mean being loved and appreciated for who we are (not what we bought) and having that be enough.
Lucky you if your holidays have always been filled with the good stuff!
Last night when Paige and I spent time together, and it became clear that she didn't want to be here beyond the yummy meal, we had an open discussion about whether or not we even want to celebrate Christmas in any way from now on.
It's not that it's been important to me (I see it as a fantastic money grab - great job, marketers!) and it's certainly not our holiday (it's just been ingrained for so many years) but being that she's my daughter and she has always loved Christmas, I just kept going with it.
I learned last night that Christmas no longer means that much to her, either. Now that she can buy her own things and has a life beyond me, and given that we are genuinely connected always, we both agreed that a visit just because it's Christmas doesn't feel necessary. Different if that would be the only time we get to see each other, of course.
We also agreed that spending Christmas dinner at Nana and Papa Kelly's still feels important since that is the only time we see those 8 relatives each year.
Sure I could have laid a guilt trip on my kid to make her stay last night instead of taking off to party with her friends, but my goal is a working, respectful relationship with my daughter that honours us both equally.
I want Paige to always feel good about being here more than I want to force her to be here. That never works. It makes your kids dread each visit. No one wants to be made to feel like shit for doing what makes them feel happiest. Nor is it your children's job to make your happiness their priority. That's been your job from day one.
Plus, Paige felt guilty all on her own for wanting to go, and it was me that convinced her she didn't need to feel bad. That it's ok that things are changing. She's growing up and has other priorities now. Other things that fill her up more than being here "just because it's Christmas". And that's great! Even if it hurts mama bear's heart a little.
My girl is always here when she wants to be, and that's good enough for me. I never wanted to be around my mom, so the fact that Paige still wants to be around me at all, means the world to me.
So although I woke up "alone" on Christmas, it's more like I woke up "with myself" like I do most days, and still just as loved. No, I didn't have the pleasure of waking up to my excited little girl eager to see what Santa brought, but those days were bound to time out eventually.
3 more hours til I see my girl again, and 4 more hours til a yummy dinner with Paige's extended family. The Kelly clan is on her dad's side, and they welcomed us into their family from the day she was born.
Another family by heart.
Wishing all of you a day filled with all the good stuff.
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