Metamorphosis, the Holiday Edition

My kids got pencil sharpeners in the advent cal today. They were so excited. “oooh! pencil sharpeners! Just what I needed!”

The fascinating Christmas facts are a hit, too. We’re collecting them in a jar so that they can read them again when the Eckenrode kids get here.

On deck tonight: Christmas tree decoration, scented bath salts and bath bombs. I’m using a silicone mini muffin pan for the molds. Tomorrow, we’ll do the nail polish mugs and maybe the felted soaps, if the wool arrives in the mail in time.

This is the Christmas I remember. Weeks of creating gifts, testing new recipes, simmering homemade potpourri on the stove, and just doing a slow buildup to a really nice day with family.

Along the way I lost that. The year I met my ex, I picked apples and made apple butter to give out to friends and family. The following year, our first year together (still in Asheville) my friend Dayna and I spend six Saturdays making components for gift baskets: bath salts, bath bombs, cds, banana bread, apple butter, and one day to build baskets. It was my favorite part. The making, the building, the giving away.

When you lose your footing in the world, the pleasures of living fall away. And when you are, for whatever reason, not in a reciprocal relationship of care and nurturing, life becomes a struggle to exist. As the years wore on, Christmas became centered around coordinating plans with family from other places. As I began to feel more and more alone in my marriage, the holidays were – not a chore, not like that – it was more that we were pretending so hard, and I don’t like pretending. The holidays themselves didn’t depress me. The fact that the holidays served to amplify and shine a spotlight on the decaying carcass of our marriage depressed me. We did what we did to keep things consistent for the children, and they have nice memories of those years so I guess we did our job. But man, it hurts so much to have missed so much with them because I was working so hard just to stay afloat.

I resolved to stop pretending, when we split. If I didn’t feel the holidays, I wouldn’t lie about it. I would aggressively care for myself so that I could care for my kids. It’s been working.

I feel like me again. I’m coming back.

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