December 20, 2012- Journal Entry
“On the airplane headed home to Kansas. LAX was filled with happy children, families, and couples rushing home for the holidays to greet their families and celebrate the season. It is also filled with a lot of grumpy travelers and screaming children, but I am trying to see the good in things lately. As happy as I am to see my family I am counting the days till I am back on a plane and heading to LA.”
I was embarking on my first single Christmas in 7 years, and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my family; I adore them and they are my rock. I was just not ready to celebrate a holiday alone, especially Christmas. Don’t get me wrong over the past 20 + years I have been alone on many holidays, but this one was different not only was it the mother of all family holidays, it was the first one in 7 years that I didn’t have my x. Not only that but the thought of watching all the kids opening gifts, reminding me of the children I don’t have with a husband I no longer had, just did not sound fun.
The big bright spot was that my seven-year old niece had already asked if she could sleep with me on Christmas Eve. When I go home we often have girl slumber parties, even to this day, and they are some of my favorite memories with the girls. Not to mention that I love Christmas Eve, the excitement of the next day, drinking wine by the tree, listening to my dad complain about how there are too many gifts under the tree, the kids wondering where Santa is, Christmas Vacation on the TV, it is magical. That night we cuddled in bed and talked about Santa; it might have been my favorite moment in months! It was so fun when they all still believed. I had also loved going to bed next to my husband each Christmas eve, let’s just say this is not how Christmas 2012 was supposed to be!
Mimosas and pancakes were a tradition for my x husband and I and for some reason I decided to keep it alive. I think it was mostly the fact that I would use any excuse to drink during the day at this point. On Christmas morning our phone rang at some ungodly hour, my other two nieces were awake and ready to start Christmas. I brushed my teeth, pulled on my Uggs, grabbed a coat, a bottle of champagne from the fridge and laid down in the back seat of the car. Though it was only 100 yards across the driveway to my sisters’ house, I didn’t have it in me to be jolly… or sit up straight for that matter.
As gifts were passed out by my beautiful nieces, also a family tradition, I noticed a few that I didn’t recognize. As I looked at the tags, one was from my husband. Ugh, really? After everything, he sent me a Christmas gift? I was shocked my sister put it under the tree- I would have expected her to burn it in the front yard. I tried to pretend the gift wasn’t in my stack, and then I pretended it was from someone else. I decided I would open his gift last.
But the real distraction was a mystery gift; it was large and heavy and I had zero idea who it was from… Santa? To my pleasant surprise, it was a handsome guy I went to college with, Tony. I met Tony through my first husband when we were in college, he was a groomsman at our wedding actually. He and I were Facebook friends and traded messages over the years, he was divorced as well and he could relate to my past year. Turns out he had seen a post I made on Facebook about something I loved and mentioned it would be a good gift for any fashion lover. I unwrapped Tony’s gift first; I couldn’t imagine what it was and I love a good mystery. As I unwrapped the package, I could see it was the incredible fashion book I had posted about, I couldn’t believe he did that. I hadn’t seen Tony in years, and though we talked over Facebook now and then I was really surprised. It was a very sweet gesture from an old friend, he had reached out to my sister to her address. It made me smile, someone was thinking about me.
After I opened every other gift in my pile, and I had one left, the one from my x. I sat there and stared at the gift. In my family we go around in a circle, everyone opening each gift one by one. I made everyone skip me for several turns. Finally, I didn’t have a choice but to open it. It was 2 boxes, an ornament, big blown glass ball with a note that I didn’t care to read (literally threw it away and never read it), and a camera. A camera? It was a very nice camera, in my favorite color red, but it was just odd. Was it so I could take photos of my new life? What the hell was the ornament for? To put on the Christmas tree I didn’t have because he was holding it hostage in our storage unit?
After we opened gifts in true Sanders tradition, my sister fixed a big breakfast of pancakes, hash browns (the best you will ever have), bacon, eggs, French toast, biscuits, and gravy; just about anything you could want. I had a piece of bacon and opened my bottle of champagne. All I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed.
In my perfect thoughts, this year was going to be special; we had spent last Christmas with his family because it was so soon after our wedding and we were trying to save money by not traveling. So this year I was going to wake up Christmas morning with my husband at my parent’s house and have a real family Christmas- the way I had always imagined. It was important to me that we would be with my family, and they would finally know that this man was serious about our future and me. Instead of the happy holiday, I had pictured; I was sad and drinking champagne at 8 am, looking through a book about fashion that was sent to me by a man I hadn’t seen in 15 years. Not going to lie, it hurt. My whole body hurt. My head hurt; my muscles hurt, my heart hurt.
Later in the day my sister’s in-laws and family came over (they are a big family), I lasted about 20 minutes. I soon told everyone I was going to run over to my mom and dad’s to get something. What I was “getting”, was into my pajamas and then under my covers? I slept most of the day.
The funny part was it wasn’t like this was my first Christmas alone in the past few years. My husband had left me alone for Christmas, along with various other holidays, on and off during our entire relationship. He would have to leave Christmas evening or get stuck in an airport on his way home to me Christmas Eve. Yes, I know that is one of those statements that makes everyone say, “how did you not know something was going on?” Trust me, I have asked myself this questions more times than I can count.
The best was the time he was stuck in Canada due to a snow storm and wouldn’t be home until Christmas evening or the day after. Lucky for him there was an actual snow storm, unlucky for him we have something called the internet and I could see that flights were available had he actually been in the city he said he was. I spent that Christmas Eve crying into my wine with Marcy (she is Jewish and hadn’t gone home for the holiday) and the next day with my in-laws. They kept saying things like, “Poor x, he is stuck alone on Christmas in a strange place.” Little did we all know, he was with Katy and her family celebrating the holiday.
Happy Holidays, Cheers!