This year I’m telling the holidays to fuck off. Usually I just think such blasphemous thoughts, makes some wry comments about how I hate the holidays, and then do all the present-buying and cooking and planning and fake-merriment and shit like that.
Let me preface this post with some background: I have always had problems with the holidays. Christmas is supposed to be about family, and my family (at least on my side) is royally fucked up. Christmas tends to be when my narcissistic bi-polar mother gets depressed and paranoid. Sometimes there is hate mail. Merry fucking Christmas. Oh, and did I mention my birthday is the day after Christmas? Crappy birthday, made even crappier by constant reminder of ticking clock.
As the years leak by without any luck on bringing a baby home, Christmas is progressively sadder. I’d love to be all melodramatic and say that this is because my first baby was due Christmas-week two years ago, but the truth is it isn’t really about that. (Oh wait, writing that just made me get misty, so maybe it’s sort of about that.) But it’s much more than a miscarriage. I don’t want to suggest that everyone else should feel the way I do, but I really think that if I’d had a child anytime in the last three years I wouldn’t really mourn my lost pregnancies. None of them seem like real babies to me, any more than my embryos seem like babies. I never heard a heartbeat, never saw them in a sono, never even got morning sickness. The most pregnant I ever felt was when I was losing it. To me, my miscarriages (4 in total, if you count chemical pregnancies––I do––2 if you don’t) aren’t so much lost children but lost chances. I feel sad for them the way I feel sad for my embryos that don’t survive (okay, a lot sadder, because they were farther along, but the same idea). But what I really feel is sad for me, sad that my first miscarriage was more than two years ago and I still don’t have a toddler, sad that my most promising pregnancy (ended in ectopic) was well over a year ago and I still don’t have an infant, sad that after three and a half years of struggling, Jason and I still don’t have a child to love, to nurture, to grow. Sad that my fantasy of having two kids is virtually gone, and that my fantasy of having a 100% biological kid is hanging by a thread, that my fantasy of having even a 50% biological infant is fading.
So I don’t think Christmas would be any better even if it wasn’t a miscarriage milestone. What matter is that the holidays are all about family, and I can’t get mine off the ground.
Last year it all became Too Much. Probably because in addition to the other crap, J and I had to give up drinking (him out of necessity, me out of solidarity). So now we can’t even muster merriment from a bottle. And we’ve been having the same Christmas, with the same four grownups (J, me, his mom, his aunt) for the last 10 years. The tradition was nice for awhile, but the sameness of it all is killing us. The same foods (J’s mom and his aunt have certain favorite dishes and won’t let me cook anything else); the same conversations—verbatim; the same stupid pretend jokes about who’s got the biggest stocking and who’s trying to steal whose presents.
And don’t even get me started on the presents. For some reason, Christmas at J’s house requires so many presents that we literally, literally spend all day opening them. All Fucking Day. It’s unbearable. All that money spent on all that crap, which isn’t even crap that we want (or, in the case of gifts to them, crap that they want). And all I can think is what I really want no one can give me. Every year, as everyone whines about how we’re never going to get through all of the presents, I loudly suggest that we should buy less next year, that perhaps we could focus on one really great present for each person, something like that. And each year I am told that I don’t really mean it, and that if we cut down on presents I would be the first one to complain, and then it’s the same old jokes about who’s stocking is bigger and who’s getting the most presents, and who is trying to filch things from whose pile of loot. And remember, last year all this was with no booze (at least for me and J—his mom and aunt were as lit as the Christmas tree).
This rant (an oft-repeated rant, I’m ashamed to say) came bursting out of me on New Years Eve last year, and I made a solemn promise to myself: I swore that this year, if I wasn’t safely pregnant or on an adoption list, we weren’t going back to J’s mom’s for Christmas. Now to many of you, this might seem like no biggie, but my MIL spends her entire year thinking about, planning for, and bitching about Christmas. But considering the fact that Christmas was less than a week over and I already was having a panic attack about the next one, I put my foot down.
I got my most recent BFN in August, my last chance at being pregnant before Christmas. That same day I started making plans. I booked a cabin in the mountains of VA for four nights, and a couple of weeks later J and I had The Talk with his mom, where we broke it to her that, for the first time in her life, she was going to have Christmas without anyone but her sister.
The funny thing is that she took it really well. Like a grown-up. I tend to forget (in light of the aforementioned batshit-crazy mother) that parents can actually act like adults. She’s disappointed, of course, but she was also really cool. We told her it was just too sad, and that we didn’t want to pretend to be happy, and that it would just be for this one year. I thought it was odd that she needed us to tell her why it was so sad, but once we explained it she didn’t argue with us.
So here’s the plan: 4 days in a cabin in the mountains: hot tub on the deck overlooking the valley (J will probably not be allowed in, given sperm count issues, but I’m the one that lives for the hot tub, so it’s not that big of a deal); wood-burning fireplace (J and I are both certifiable firebugs); DVD’s and good music; great cooking (and I can try out NEW recipes); a visit to Luray Caverns; and maybe an afternoon massage.
Then, the week after Christmas, J’s mom and aunt come down for dinner and present-exchange. And here’s the beauty of this: I have to work the next day, so we can’t do a late-night thing. This leaves one hour, maybe two, for opening presents. If they decide to go present-crazy, so be it. After 10:00 I’m kicking them out and whatever isn’t opened doesn’t get opened while they are there.
And due to this, I am totally blowing off the rest of the holiday obligations: super easy (if not original) presents for extended family, very few (and very nice) presents for J’s mom and aunt, and nothing else. I’m not cooking for any parties, I’m not getting a tree (though we did do outdoor lights at J’s request, which make me happy), I’m not going to any dress-up events.
I wish we were in the type of family where we could completely boycott Christmas. But we’re not, and it would cause more trouble that it would be worth. That being said, I think I’ve come as close as I can to a true fuck-off to the holiday.
Anyone else telling Santa to fuck off this year? We got enough troubles, fat man, without you adding to them.