I have never really loved the holidays. I grew up a child of divorced parents and I’ve always associated Christmas with turmoil and stress and the worry of disappointing someone if I chose to be one place over another. It’s not necessarily a reflection on my parents, but more the result of being the type of child that worried about most everything from a very early age.
Those holiday blues followed me into adulthood. I married a man whose parents were also divorced and celebrating two Christmases doubled to four across three states, amplifying my distaste for the season. The moment the first Halloween decoration came down each year I felt my blood pressure rise.
I thought that was the worst of it — the stress, the traveling, the frantic shopping. Then, two days before Christmas six years ago, I miscarried my first pregnancy. It was truly the worst Christmas ever. I remember laying in bed that night, hot tears streaming down my face, the glow of the Christmas tree peeking under our closed bedroom door, while I mentally swore off the holiday season forever. It was doomed.
In May of the following year I learned I was pregnant again. I was given a due date of January 14th, but I began to show signs of pre-eclampsia in December. I spent the first part of that month on bed rest, I celebrated Christmas from the couch, all the while cursing my rotten holiday luck. My condition became uncontrolled on Christmas day, a fact that didn’t surprise me at all considering my history with the season.
I spent over 30 hours in labor, labor that ended in a c-section and Anders entered the world on December 27th. I lost a baby two days before Christmas and there I was a year later, holding my newborn son two days after. My life seemed balanced in some faintly poetic way.
That was the last year I hated Christmas. Anders has made doing so impossible. His energy this time of year is infectious. Watching him rip the paper from his gifts, so excited, is more than adequate payment for the stress of shopping for them. Traveling is still a pain, but the chance to share him and his sister with out of town family makes the miles seem more worth it.
It is one of the greatest perks of parenthood that we get to experience things once again through the eyes of our children. Having Anders has saved Christmas for me.
Have your children affected the way you feel about the holiday season?