The holidays are a work in progress for John and me.
Rarely do people write about Christmas from a difficult perspective, unless citing the increased suicide rates (depressing) or denouncing Santa (just rude). I do understand that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years – “The Holidays” – bring complications for many married couples. Husbands and wives argue about family Christmas traditions, which family to spend which day with, travel and budgets.
But these typical sources of conflict are not what plague my household this time of year. I wish sometimes that it were so simple.
My husband and I grew up with drastically different versions of the ‘holiday spirit’. For John, being around family meant strife and conflict. Later in life these dates, for him, became associated with painful events surmounting my reasonable expectations of grief. Conversely, I am a loud and proud celebrator of the holidays. I bask in the glory of a Christmas tree, surround myself with carols and tinsel, and eat enough cookies to get me through a small famine if need be.
We are by no means the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. John indulges all of my Christmas wishes. He hangs the really really high up ornaments, runs to the store for hot chocolate supplies, and watches Love Actually and White Christmas. But each moment of enjoyment and festivity is in some way a sacrifice for my strong and inspiring husband. On occasion, he is not up for the joy. And I am stubborn. I do not enjoy a party for one and have been known to pout from time-to-time when he is unable to be involved.
So, as I said, the holidays are a work in progress.
I am proud to say that we are learning. We are learning to communicate better and to allow room for the other’s opinion. Due to our differences, we often have more arguments this time of year. We have hurt feelings and the tarnish of words that should not have been said. We have varied expectations of behavior, and our fair share of misunderstandings. But we are learning.