I have always loved Christmas. I love decorating, baking, picking out the perfect gifts. I love the excitment. It's kind of a family joke that even at the age of 25, I would wake up my sister at 6am, excited to open gifts and start the day. For a long time when I was young, my dad had to work until early afternoon and it was a painful wait. For the few years when he didn't have to work, the rules were that my parents had to have their coffee, and Dad would have his traditional gift-opening Guinness. Then we'd open stockings first, followed by gifts. Then we'd have a big brunch and spend the day relaxing. The first year Buddy and I were together, we went to see Christmas lights that evening. It was the first time we'd talked about getting married. It is my favorite Christmas memory. I've always loved Christmas.
Until now. I can't help but feel there's something missing. I'm apathetic. I haven't even shopped for my family yet. For friends? Yes. But the more my family goes on and on talking about what we want for Christmas, the more I just feel... nothing. I just want to curl up and wake up in January, after the holidays are over. After the stores have put away the "Baby's 1st Christmas" stockings and after the Christmas themed Facebook pregnancy announcements have fallen off the page of my newsfeed. I tried to open up to my mom about how I was feeling about this Christmas - that I just didn't have the joy I usually feel, that this Christmas is very different than how Buddy and I imagined it a year ago. She just said, "oh." As if feeling crappy wasn't enough, now I feel brushed off, too.
Two months ago, the message board was already asking about how fellow IFers dealt with the holidays. Some ladies mentioned they were going away on vacation or were avoiding family functions with their pesky, "when are you guys having kids?" questions. And I judged, I admit. I said I would never avoid family or a holiday I loved because of IF. And then, I walked in to Target and saw the store dressed up in it's festive marketing and walked by a Baby's 1st Christmas bib, misplaced in the wine aisle of all places. And I teared up. A few days later, I was shopping at Old Navy with Buddy, carrying around a hugely discounted white pea coat I'd had my eye on when my sister texted me, "what do you want for Christmas?" I put the coat back, grabbed Buddy's hand and left the store, barely making it to the car before bursting into tears.
Something about the holidays, even with all the magic and wonder, makes me remember what's missing. I'm in a far better place after reading Sweet Grapes. It's helped me immensely. I was able to buy Baby's 1st Christmas pajamas for two friends' babies. I proudly ordered, wrapped, and shipped gifts for my friend's 10-week-old. I have more resolve and peace with things than I did two months ago. Yet there's still a pang of sadness when I think about visits to Santa and The Elf on the Shelf and Christmas morning. It's mixed in with the apathy towards shopping for gifts and wanting to hibernate and anticipating our friends' kids opening the gifts we thoughtfully picked out for them. It's a mess of emotion where there used to be pure joy. I was naive to think that IF wouldn't affect Christmas.