That’s the burning question, I suppose: How was my first Christmas without the kids? Was I depressed, did I weep, was I lonesome? Did I call them, did they call me, did I miss them, did they miss me, was I miserable, did I feel abandoned and empty? Did solicitous friends and relations call and tiptoe nervously around the topic of my mental state, was I deluged with invitations–or, alternately, was I bereft of invitations, because no one quite knows what to do with someone who’s slated to be Alone on Christmas? Did I play significant, evocative music, and Have a Good Cry? Did I make Private Very Special Time Just For Myself? Did I take a bath with candles, scented oils, and a self-help book? Did I start new rituals? Did the hours drag? Did I drink myself into a sodden heap? Did I turn my back on the whole damned thing and go for Chinese food and a movie? Did my ex-husband give me something gruesome and macabre? Was I selfless, did I volunteer, did I think of the less fortunate, did I exercise, did I try something new, did I go for a long contemplative walk alone?
The answer to everything is, disappointingly, No. Well, I take it back. I did call the kids, of course, to wish them a Merry Christmas and to see how they were. They were in fine fettle, sweet and kind, though anxious to get back to things that needed to be unwrapped. The presents they got over there were better than the ones they got here, which is a bit of a–well, a Christmas buzzkill, as a friend of mine said. But what can you do. Oddly enough, I took it in stride. Since my separation began, I have found that the things I expect to upset me almost never do. When I’m slammed by grief, it usually comes from some unanticipated source. And so, Christmas wasn’t half as bad as I’d feared. It wasn’t great, by any standards, but neither was it miserable.
I’m as surprised as you are. I think this holiday was the natural result of a slow, sometimes barely discernable improvement. The kids were happy. Their father even seemed happy. I saw my mother-out-law, and she seemed happy. She gave me a book, and I gave her a book, and we embraced warmly and chatted. We–the kids, their father and I, and even our peripheral family and friends–are all getting used to the divorce. It’s funny, because I still feel that I am winging it nine-tenths of the time. My weeks are varied, and confusing, and often chaotic–there is no routine I’ve got down pat. Yet we are all thriving, which feels like the best kind of year-end triumph–all my dire worries that I’d destroyed the family by ending the marriage have not come to pass.
On Christmas, I wrote this on my other website–a post that has nothing to do with divorce. But I have gotten rather off track on this blog, and will begin the new year by getting back to the story of my separation, the mediation that (spoiler alert!) failed, and how we all muddled through those first wretched months of living apart. Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you, as ever, for reading and commenting. Everything continues to get better, because of all of you.