My Fantasy Christmas

Night table in Room 12 at the Inn.

I always went there in my mind.  The big Victorian house as the end of the dirt road.  The rooms were endless.  My favorite was the library, whose walls were covered in books from floor to ceiling, a single stuffed chair and lamp in the middle of it.

This was my retreat, the place I’d go especially at Christmas.

For years, before Jon and I got together and began figuring out our own kind of Christmas, this was my fantasy, to be alone in that room, reading.  There I was secure from the traditions of the holiday, and the loneliness that I felt around my family.

Maybe if I had my own children I would have felt different.  I would have wanted to give them the wonder and excitement of Christmas morning. But as I grew up, I found the excess of Christmas a source of anxiety and the traditions meaningless.

Over the years, I’ve written on my blog about breaking away from my family’s traditions and expectations.  I’ve gotten help from therapists, shamans, healers, Jon and my friends.  Jon and I have worked to find a way to spend Christmas that isn’t fraught with anxiety and guilt for me and that has meaning for both of us.

And I feel like, after spending ten Christmas’ together, this year was a breakthrough for both of us.  Jon wrote about Christmas on his blog yesterday.  How he found meaning in giving and on our trip to an Inn in Vermont.

Although I’m still struggling with the meaning of Christmas, I have found meaning in the Solstice, which I now see as my winter holiday.    And even though I was more edgy and raw on the days leading up to our overnight trip on Christmas eve and day, I was able to relax and enjoy our time away without the usual feelings of guilt and anxiety that have gradually been dissipating through the years.

For the past couple of years, I wished I could ignore Christmas, treat it as any other day.  I just wanted it to go away.  But this year it was like my fantasy had finally come true.  Not in a literal way, but in the feeling of it.

Because the feeling of love, understanding, and safety that I found by myself, in that Library room in my fantasy, was what I experienced this Christmas with Jon.

In a way, the Inn we stayed at, was a manifestation of that Victorian House at the end of the dirt road.   It was quiet with few other guests and is familiar.  It’s the place Jon and I went to when we first got together and needed to get away, it’s where we spent our honeymoon.  And although in some ways it has changed over the years, it still felt like coming home.

As in my fantasy, I spent a good part of this Christmas reading. Even yesterday after we got home, I resisted the urge to work and instead, sat in the wicker chair by the window and finished reading, “Girl, Woman, Other” by  Bernardine Evaristo (which I loved) that I started a few days ago.

So I would say that this Christmas was even better than I could have imagined.  Not so much because of what Jon and I did, but because of the feeling it evoked.  It was the love and gentleness that Jon and I shared, the caring for each other, the conversation, and being together.

And as I write this, it feels almost selfish to me.

For so many, including Jon, Christmas is a time of giving.  And maybe that will come for me.  I can begin to imagine it now that I feel safer and more comfortable with my own idea of Christmas.  It’s as if I have to purge my old idea of the holiday before I can embrace a new one.

Yesterday afternoon Jon and I went to The Mansion.

We sat around with some of the people who live there, read some poetry and talked about what Christmas meant to each of them.  For some, it was about getting gifts, for others about giving.   A couple of people mentioned Jesus and one woman said she appreciated being able to sit next to the Christmas tree and just look at it.

I went along with Jon, knowing the people at the Mansion would enjoy our company and that it was a good thing to do.  But it’s not something I would have done on my own.  Like an angry teenager, a part of me balked at the idea of participating in Christmas in that way.

And yet, once there, I enjoyed it.  It was not a selfless act, I like reading poetry out loud, I like listening to and having conversations with the women (they were all women) who were there.  I find them interesting.

I think being able to let go of my old ideas about Christmas will open me up to perceiving and experiencing the holiday in a different way.  And I feel like I’m ready for that now.  So instead of dreading Christmas as I have in the past, now I’m wondering what it will be like for me next year.


7 thoughts on “My Fantasy Christmas

  1. Maria,
    Having read your post about Christmas (as well as Jon’s several). I wanted to let you know that you and Jon…and Rocky, Red and Simon…were part of how I enjoyed Christmas this year. Like you I enjoy solitude and a good book. “Saving Simon” was my delight to read the last two days. Jon’s accounts of you there are delightful.

    When I read your Christmas post, my heart went out to you. I understand how Christmas can be experienced as weighty, to the point of dreadful, the way it has been commercialized and loaded with expectations. I am writing to offer you perhaps a different perspective.

    At its core Christmas is a time for remembering that God knows us, loves us, and is compassionate toward us. In all of our messiness, heartache, weakness, and selfishness God meets us in a tiny obscure village (Bethlehem), through an innocent infant (Jesus) born 2000 years ago for the express purpose of communicating God’s love to us and freely offering forgiveness to us for all the wrong we know we have done. That is worth remembering, exploring…and celebrating.

    Knowing that through Jesus I am welcome in God’s presence… that He so highly values the people He has made… that He does the unthinkable to rescue us… is an astonishing thought and great source of happiness and comfort. For me this is the joy of Christmas; not what others do for me, or what I do for them, but what God has done for all of us who desire to know and enjoy Him. This, without fail, has uplifted my soul in the midst of what can seem a season of drudgery and disappointment. I commend to you the great love of God to bring you gladness this Christmas.

    Thank you for letting me sharing my reason for joy and hope. May you and Jon have all the happiness and fulfillment you desire. You both have been a source of gladness for me these past few days.

  2. The healing just keeps on like waves on the ocean, I’m so happy for you. I found changing my orientation to solstice changed so much – bringing nature inside for the season and then recycling, making it the focus and penultimate part of the time of year. Then Christmas can be a feeling and magic and what you want it to be. Most of the 20-somethings I know want coziness and experience not tons of stuff (which makes me happy).

    I think your Christmases will just get more and more Jon & Maria and easier and lovelier.

    Happy this was such a breakthrough year.

  3. The raw honesty in your post touched my heart. I had a beautiful shift this Christmas myself. I grew up Catholic with 12 years of Catholic Schools. I grew up hearing “keep the Christ in Christmas”. It was confusing trying to balance Jesus with Santa.

    I read a daily meditation on Christmas by a Franciscan Priest saying we celebrate Christmas too much as a historical event from 2000 years ago. That this is a holiday about rebirth… he describes Christ as the communion with God & Christmas as a celebration of that communion of rebirth we each can have. I really am a spiritual mutt & tend towards Buddhist & nature philosophy but I love when an old idea from my Christian upbringing gets turned on its head.

    I was sick for Christmas – I don’t remember ever being sick in my 52 years on Christmas. It gave me a day to reflect on my own rebirth. The changes I have made in my life, what changes I want to strive towards in 2020. I have so simplified my life the last few years – growing towards a more authentic Kim.

    All this to say how beautiful it is to witness your growth on your blog… I see almost a rebirth – you embracing who you have always been but maybe feared to allow yourself to be. I love & am inspired to hear you confront, question & challenge old beliefs. You are a spiritual warrior & your vulnerability in your blog is courageous & humbling.

    1. I love that your being sick on Christmas wasn’t about feeling sorry for yourself but became a time of reflection Kim. Thanks for writing about your experience. The idea of rebirth rings true to me, I’m going to think more about it.

    2. Thanks for writing about your Christmas experience Kim. I love that you didn’t feel sorry for yourself being sick on Christmas but made it a time of reflection. I like the idea of rebirth and I can see that it was a part of my day too. I’ll think about it for the future. I also appreciate you words about my blog and writing too.

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