The weeks leading up to Christmas, I saw several posts about how the holidays are not happy for everyone. That for some, the holidays bring sadness, loneliness, feelings of helplessness and despair.
It is true.
And this year is not the first time I felt those things.
Way back when I was 22 years old, I was a newly divorced young woman, with a 1 year old daughter, facing my first Christmas as a single mother.
My marriage to my child's father was short lived. After three years of things not going the way I wanted or needed them to, I gave up on the union. There I was. A new mother, working part time, getting $50.00 a week child support, and facing Christmas 'alone'. It was rough. I was scared. Scared to be in our home alone with doors that wouldn't lock. Scared because I didn't make much money, and $50.00 didn't even pay for childcare. Scared because sometimes, I didn't know where the next meal would come from or if I could pay for propane for heat, what less Christmas gifts.
And then there was the loneliness.
I made it through for the next 6 Christmas' alone also. I had my daughter. And each year, I found a way to buy her gifts, and to have enough food. Enough heat. Enough spirit to celebrate Christmas and a baby who was born to save us. We certainly had plenty of love and smiles and laughter. But as the only adult, I did feel lonely during the holidays. And despaired. Hopeless. It was a struggle, but I wanted my child to feel secure and 'normal', so I hid these things the best I could. So really, no one knew.
Then I met my 2nd husband.
He brought stability. Both emotional and financial. We got married. We had a child together, now there were two daughters. We made traditions as we went along. Some we kept year after year. Some were forgotten after the first year or two. But Christmas was . . . Warm. Safe. Love. Happiness. Fullness. Home.
After 22 years...it changed.
The few months leading up to our last Christmas together was...Cold. Quiet. Angry. Sad. Empty. Lonely.
After getting through that last Christmas, it was done.
What would the next Christmas be like? I moved to a much smaller and older home after the divorce. What I could afford. Would my kids like it? Would my grand kids want to come here? I didn't put up many decorations. Only a small tree and a few things here and there. My heart wasn't in it.I missed my home of 20 years...the house me and my husband had picked out together. It felt like I had moved my body and stuff here, but my soul was still back at my home there. Maybe it was wandering around that house, looking for me. Looking for my daughters. My grandsons. Listening for the laughter.
Luckily, after expressing my fear that they wouldn't like this new place, my daughter said, 'where ever you are mama, that is home to us'. And I realized, that where ever I was, and my loved ones come to me, that can be home to me too.
I bought a house over a year ago. Its not as big or as nice as the home I had, but its becoming home more and more with each passing month. The grand kids are growing and making memories here. My daughters come and spend a few nights here and there. My oldest daughter, the one with the boys, comes more often. My youngest daughter comes with her dog, and can sleep in peace I suppose. (She lived with me right after the divorce, and slept in the next room. I know many nights she heard my wails as my heart broke and knitted back a little, then broke again.)
I won't lie and say I don't miss my old life, my old home, my old
Christmases. And after the kids go home, Christmas can still be a bit
So yes, when you see those Facebook posts about praying for those who will be hurting at Christmas, do pray. The sadness and loneliness is real. And it may effect someone you never would have dreamed would feel that way.