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having mixed feelings about Christmas


swilkinson

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Sometimes I think about how excited I used to be when Christmas was just days away. When I was a small child my parents were not well off, we had come to Australia with very little money and I used to get just one gift, it was marked "love from Mum and Dad". I used to envy the children in our street who had aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents close by as well as their Mum and Dad who gave them presents and small keepsakes. I did have relatives but they all lived in England or Canada and we rarely got gifts from them. Of course there were many other children locally who also came from overseas, from countries poorer than ours so they too got very little in the way of presents. I could relate to them more than to my Australian neighbours in the sense that we were all isolated from so many who would have formed our family circle. And of course those our parents loved which meant that our parents were sad at Christmas time too.

 

I learned some hard lessons when I was a child about making do with what I have. It stood me in good stead when I was looking after Ray, firstly because it stopped me wishing for things I could not have, and secondly because waiting for good things to happen was part of my nature, built on the fact that Mum and Dad had to pay everything off on one wage and so you knew that you would get certain things you needed but had to wait until they could afford it. We would never have whined : "buy me this, buy me that" as I hear children doing these day in the supermarkets, Mum would have grabbed us by the hand and marched out, angry that we had shamed her in public by showing others that we were too poor to afford all the things we wanted.

 

One busy week to go, only ten days before it is Christmas, only a month before Trevor and Edie move to Broken Hill. Life is a mixed bag, moments of fun and laughter, times of heartache and sadness. Christmas season, the lead-up to Christmas is far too busy, the days seem to fly by and I am not ready for the actual day to come. I am trying to prepare psychologically as I know that even though this is my second Christmas without Ray it is still hard to come to terms with. The family is not the same, we have lost our heart. Without Ray at home with me the house is no longer as homely. I am certainly not the same, I am a widow and an orphan and some days that is exactly the way I feel, alone and abandoned.

 

My adult children too suffer although I don't think any of them really knows how to express that. Of course they miss Ray but are of a generation that feels they should "move on" whatever that means. There must be a lot of people telling themselves they have moved on when really they are just walking around with a giant hole in the middle of their lives. No wonder so many people suffer from depression, I wonder if some of it is really aggravated sadness grown too big to bear? If you feel like that please get some counselling. It is possible to go on without those you love but it is very difficult and very lonely sometimes.

 

And so each day I put on my good clothes and go on out into the world with my best smile on my face and try to treat people with respect and be sensitive to those around me. A young man who is often at our church told me recently he thought that old people looked so sad and I explained it is often because so many of their partners or their good friends have died before them and now they are left to go on alone, as I am, and it is hard to do. He did look a bit thoughtful so I hope he does make an exception to the "grumpy old men/women" theme that is popular at the moment and think of each older person as an individual with their own lives and their own thoughts and dreams.

 

The fence between my house and the new house is finished - what a saga that was! Some things that happened, including more destruction of my side garden beds, caused me to have a meltdown on Friday and I had a huge howling fit and felt awful afterwards but it all becomes a bit too much when you discuss decisions and things are turning out very different to what you have been lead to expect. But for better or worse the fence is up! Now I need to rebuild the garden beds, hopefully for the last time. The trampled bulbs will maybe flower next year, the shrubs will still have time to put on leaf but it is too late for them to flower now. It was certainly the wrong time of the year to do all of this but what is done is done. Now I need it to rain to settle everything back in.

 

Actually I am glad I can find things to keep me occupied. The Lions Club Christmas Stocking ticket selling experience is bittersweet, already I have had two people come up to me with a bright smile and ask: "And how is Ray?" It is fifteen months since he died and I am not sure whether I am happy people still remember him, sad because he is no longer here, or glad he is out of pain. I have so many mixed feelings. Not all is well with our ongoing plans for Christmas Day and Boxing Day ether. Like many families we find we have a clash of plans. I am hoping it all works out so we can have a proper get-together. Christmas is supposed to be the family celebration. Or is that just what the advertisers tell us to sell their products?

 

I am looking at life as optimistically as I can. As people pass by and call out: "Merry Christmas Sue." I reply: "And to you too". I do mean it and I try to believe it.

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Guest lwisman

Posted

Sue,

 

The plan to look good and act good even if you don't feel that way can work. I agree it is a better option that reminding everyone you meet that the holidays are often not all we are told they should be. I often think that the joy of the holidays is not felt by a lot of people.

 

There was a segment on TV yesterday reflecting that there is this myth out there than Santa brings lots of gifts if you are good and not so much if you are bad. Does this mean that children in poor families believe that being good or bad has to do with the socio-economic position your are born into? Something they do not have control over. That is a depressing thought. It is good to hear that your parents marked your one present as from Mom and Dad. .That was wise of them.

 

We went to a concert Friday night at my sister's church. It was nice. We still have not done much decorating. This will be a really low key year.

 

Take care.and Happy Holidays!

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Wise words as always Sue. Sorry about your garden, been there done that!

 

I too often find myself without a smile on my face, I especially notice it at the gym where you are staring into a mirror the whole time. I used to be famous for joking and laughing, at least I enjoyed it while I could.

 

Hope Christmas works out, you do need your family so badly right now.

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YOU know that smile is a mask, but the rest of the world don't.. and although we have no obligation to smile, we should, for ourselves, if for no other. That smile sets the tone of the day. I am so sorry about the garden - but as you said gives you a project.. ( not sure you wanted one) but like the smile we put on - the project is what we make of it. And as you are a beautiful human being , with your smile. The new garden will be beautiful - just like you....

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Sue, I sure do remember those days and I'm 72 now! I got up this morning thinking just 10 days and Christmas is here! Our moms taught us so much in those days we never got out of hand or we got it right then and there.

 

I hear parents saying now "Just wait 'till you get home you are going to get spanked real good" We never picked up things for her to buy us!

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Sue :

 

I firmly believe in God's plan in our life specially when things don't go according to pur plan, I feel God has better plan for us, I am sure your future garden will be beautiful than your earlier one. & given choice you would not have destroyed your old garden. So trust in God's plan for you & plant new beautiful garden for you. It will keep you busy & happy when it blooms.

 

Asha

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Sue, glad the fence is up but sorry about your garden. I hope "the dust settles soon". Wish we had your weather now. Hate winter.

 

It is somewhat hard to plan holidays here too. I always do Christmas dinner but this year I am doing a luncheon instead and having it early. This may be better as when I have the dinner, everyone is tired from running around and having their Christmas celebrations with their families, etc.

 

Hope you have a great holiday and family time.

 

Julie

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Sue: so sorry about your garden. I do hope everything comes back next year.

 

I don't have to shuffle family or friends any longer - we have fallen by the wayside. But I did so want the holidays to be special for Bruce. Like you and I, he also grew up poor. Knew the value of a dollar. I want to do his stocking just like his Mom did for him - orange, nuts, some hard candy.

 

It will be comforting to do some things that were special to you and Ray - a decoration, cookie recipe. And you will smile when you look at them and remember. And it will be happy. You will be happy in that you have something to remember, a special part of your lives together. Debbie

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Sue, sorry about your garden, but good that your fence is fixed.

 

I remember getting one gift, but we were so thankful and we never though we were "poor', our other friends were in the same boat. You know we had so much fun, we laugh, and be like kids. The today Kids, have so much , and look so unhappy!. My grandson is always bored! I never haded that problem, we were always outside, playing games, or climbing trees.

 

Iam not cooking a big dinner this year, want to do something differnt, so we are having finger food. my husband thinks I have lost my mind, he be okay!

 

Sending you lots of hugs and love, have a enjoyable holiday with your family

 

God bless

 

Yvonne

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POOR - boy do i know about that... there were 7 of us.... and i always was the one who had to share clothes with my brother ( jeans).... i thought for a long time i was the only one who "harbored " a little resentment for growing up so darn poor.. ( i dont fault my parents but the circumstances) but my brother from CA said -" us kids were certainly brought up to think of ourselves as second class citizens." this blew my mind to hear it verbalized by him... he is very insightful , and untill that moment i thought it was just me who had issues.. i mean we are talking - POOR and my brother said i think it is because - our parents were raised to be second class citizens --- and judging from stories i remember i am sure that to be true. and i know my parents never meant us kids to feel that way - it was not intentional- but like the stroke - it is what it is /// it was what it was.... sorry Sue, you just scratched a subject that made me think - not trying to steal your thread...lol nancyl

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