A Shining Christmas

Contrary to the silliness that usually goes down on my Facebook page (I keep it pretty frivolous there; I’ve found that it’s not at all wise to be otherwise on that particular platform), I have to tell you all: I am actually really struggling with the whole “making merry” thing this year.

If you’ve been following along here for a while, you know that this is the first holiday season in which we are no longer the full-time, in-home, primary caregivers for my mother-in-law, which we had been since 2010. We have thus far had several months of not jerking awake at all hours of the night, listening for footsteps, running water, and other various strange sounds not coming from our cats. We are not responsible for getting her dressed, fed, and bathed. We are not washing soiled sheets and clothes.

The unbelievable pressure we had been under has been lifted, mostly. We are still her caregivers in that we’re regular visitors at the memory unit, checking her room to see that it’s clean, checking in with the staff to make sure she’s set for lotion, Depends, and non-binding socks. We schedule her hair appointments at the little salon on her floor (as I write this, she’s probably getting her perm right now). But this is manageable. This is done without the constant undercurrent of fear that marked the last year-and-a-half of our caring for her at home.

In the depths of my depression and anxiety during that period, I would try and look ahead to this very time. The first Christmas where I could take a deep breath and enjoy myself. I held it aloft as something that would, surely, be a shining Christmas, even with the sad understanding that my mother-in-law would not be actively participating in it.

And here we are and well, I’m just not having it. Any of it. I’m dressing the part and wrapping the presents and baking the cookies. My tree is up, decorated, and lovely. But I cannot muster the cheer. I get home most nights and can’t be arsed to flip on the lighted garlands or the little ceramic “village” on the sideboard. I’ve talked to a few people about this, and the general consensus is that I’m still just emerging from the trauma of that last year-and-a-half, and that feeling completely “normal” is still a ways off. I should go easy on myself, and stop feeling pressure to make this the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.

So I’m going through the motions while feeling sort of sleepy and intermittently sad. I might also be overcompensating a tad by eating a lot of carbs. I’m sort of looking forward to January 2nd at this point.

And I feel shitty because of this. I feel guilty because I’m having difficulty with getting into this whole holiday thing while my mother-in-law is in a memory center having no earthly clue what day it is, let alone that it’s almost Christmas. And I fall into the trap of clobbering myself for not having perspective. And mostly I just feel stupid. I should have known better to load up on expectations.

As always, humor helps. I bought this mock-ugly-Christmas-sweater not too long ago:

10425438_10102734531932890_7391550646571351082_nA coworker posted that photo on Facebook, which started this whole…trend…where my friends started posting thematic pictures for me:

10418303_2554109775630_706734808926499292_n10850042_10204446332735102_2358759221660275175_n10849935_10154994466605085_2346307634257814993_nSo, as crummy as I’ve been feeling, it did turn out to be a Shining Christmas after all.

2 thoughts on “A Shining Christmas

  1. I’ll share that I’m executing my POA, Trustee, and Health Care Proxy for my aunt, and have been since about Sept. She was living just above squalor on her own, and after a brief hospitalization, I had to move her to a nursing facility. Her spirit is willing, but her body (and her mind) are weak(er). Generally speaking I don’t have any compunction about what I’m doing FOR her (not TO her as she is habit to tell me), but I don’t enjoy being yelled at or called “a disappointment”. That said, it’s not in the way of my enjoying this time of year, except that I’ll be away for a week post-Christmas and she likely won’t have a visitor in my absence. But that, as they say, is what it is.

    If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting up all the props, maybe just turn them on (at least once) and see if that doesn’t do it for you even a little bit. You, my friend, have lived a great deal in your time on our mortal coil and are still here and I for one am happy for that.

    I hope that you’ll find the opportunity to (in your words above) “take a deep breath and enjoy [your]self”…giving yourself this “gift” might be the best one you get all season.

    Love,
    T.D.

  2. Aw, Lisa…I feel you. After Craigo passed, I forced myself to do the same. (if not for my own sake, for Annabelle’s sake) Even if it feels a little rote, it’s a perfect keep- me- busy kind of thing. And, you are giving to others as well by keeping in the spirit, even if it’s more of a Eco-Bulb light rather than a Griswold extravaganza. What you are feeling is just part of the process. Don’t ever forget… “Bumbles bounce!”

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