Friday, October 24, 2014
The 13th Gift
It wasn't that long ago that I would spend Christmas all alone. It wasn't easy and it sure as heck wasn't fun. The very first Christmas that I spent alone was the one after my divorce. I was working 40 hours a week, deep in debt and had two cats for company. I thought it would be the only Christmas I would ever have to spend alone so I made the best of it. I put up a tree and decorated my parents' house. They had fled the cold weather for warmer climates and I was wishing I had gone with them. But for me the cold was a refresher; a new start.
Not only was I going through a divorce but I had also broken up with the boyfriend that I had just begun a relationship with two month previous. It would have been nice to not have to spend the holidays alone but it wasn't in the cards.
Things could only get better I thought. Well I was wrong and they only got worse. But that part of my life has been discussed to death and most of you know that at the last day of that monumental year of my life I was raped. I would not be getting much in the way of happy gifts of friends and family in my first year of being single. No it would be another year before I was enfolded in the happiness of a new family.
The following year I had much to be happy for. I was in a solid relationship, my divorce was final, and I was part of a new family or would be in the years to follow when I married into the clan. I wouldn't spend another Christmas alone or at least I had hoped for a long time to come.
Six years passed and I was spending my first Christmas alone in a new state. I wasn't able to drive the distance to see my husband's family. I didn't have a cat or dog now. I was alone. But I kept with me the spirit of Christmas.
That year I decorated our first house. Paper chains, snowflakes, ornaments, the tree and stockings. I made sure the world that looked in my window knew I wasn't going to be depressed. Christmas Eve, though I had purchased most of my own gifts, I opened the presents that I had wrapped for myself. I realize this sounds a bit pathetic but it wasn't. I knew that half way around the world my husband and his battle buddies, fighting for another country's freedom, would be getting into their Christmas stockings. Hand selected toys and candy were individually wrapped and put into stockings I purchased for them. If they had to spend Christmas away from their families at least they would know that someone back home was thinking of them too.
The next morning, Christmas morning, I got up bright and early and plugged in the lights for the tree. Within minutes the calls started to ring my phone that would keep the season merry. First Mom, then L and finally at last the most important one from J. His phone call lasted just five minutes but it was the most cherished gift. More nourishing than any Christmas ham because this five minute call nourished my brain.
This year my husband will spend Christmas with family, his family and mine because they are mine too. This year we have a baby to bring home with us and our beloved cat Bugsy the stray that is no longer a stray. My heart over fills with love this year as it does every year whether together or apart for I always try to keep the spirit of the season alive.
This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.