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Christmas is a Mess

Christmas is a mess. Rolls of wrapping paper cluttering the table. Gifts stacked haphazardly in family groupings. Or wrapped but not yet mailed. Gold and green ribbon curls into a knotted tangle, too much of a metaphor for my emotions.

What should be done hasn’t. Everyday life doesn’t stop just because Christmas is coming. There’s no swap—you can’t quit washing dishes and spend an hour and forty-five minutes mailing gifts instead. Christmas simply layers onto what always demands attention. So laundry piles high in the basket, dust bunnies hop from beneath the sofa.

Christmas sucks all the air from the room. It demands priority—the clock is ticking! Something like a roaring train ignites in me, and I’m researching recipes, adding yet one more responsibility to the mix.

My novel sits ignored. Poor baby, it has a deadline too. Self-imposed, but if you can’t be true to yourself, who in the world should trust your word?

Then everything is in the mail. I’m disappointed with half my purchases. I vow to come up with a system next year to gift better. Something efficient, I tell myself, but mid-sentence, I realize I won’t do it. I’m one of those gifters who want at least a bit of individuation in what I give. I want it to feel like it’s for you. This year, there was too much uniformity while not quite rising to a theme.

I feel like I’m sitting on the sofa with my chin in my palm.

But, you say, the point isn’t material gifts. It’s the coming of the Christ child. That’s a false dichotomy. I give people gifts because I love them. I want to create a flicker of happiness for them. You can tell from my focus on mailing that, other than my NOLA folks, my loved-ones don’t live near me. The gifts are my remembrance to them.

Christmas just isn’t hitting right this year. Maybe it’s the billowing cloud of Omicron. Or my mother not being here—again, and forever. Perhaps I’m experiencing that sadness so many associate with the holidays.

What I can tell you is that I miss my sisters. I miss the towering tree at 505. I want my daddy coming down the stairs and kissing me good Christmas morning. The hard church pew and the interminable, fidgeting wait for Christmas Eve service to start. The lowing cattle and our nightgowns and oyster dressing and the stark winter fields of Mississippi. I am lost in times of love, which shouldn’t hurt so much.

There. I have loved Christmases past. I will love this Christmas. People will lie and tell me they like my gifts. I’ll appreciate the shielding. I will fall asleep Christmas Day with love in my heart. This, too, is readying for Christmas: untangling my jumbled emotions along with the damn tape dispenser that eats its tail like a sticky snake.

May love hold you close.

peace in creativity, Ellen

May love hold you close

Christmas 2021, Christmas depression, Preparing for Christmas

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