Dear Holiday Grief:
You’ve come again, despite the invitation that was never sent. You have a way of showing up some times far early, but as the years have gone on, you creep in later and later at the last minute. I never appreciate your entrance, but annoyingly, roll my eyes, scoot over, and allow you a seat at my table. You wouldn’t care if I didn’t, you would shove me over and wedge yourself into a spot you didn’t fit anyways, wouldn’t you?
You know why I don’t like you? You suck me in to the point I have no air in my lungs; you make my legs not want to get out of bed, and you make the simplest tasks the hardest in the whole world. You suck the smile off of my face, and you suck tears out of my eyes that pour down my cheeks, until I have to step into another room to attempt to pull away from your grip.
You are the reason that there is no pure happiness anymore. You linger in the shadows, in the cracks of the family get-togethers and the emptiness of a fully packed house. I see you when we are all laughing, playing games, and being entertained by the little boy who brings me more of you, yet also lightens your grip you have on my heart. I am six years out, and just when I think you and I are done with our obligatory holiday dance, when I feel you distancing yourself from the relationship we have shared all these years, then you pounce out of nowhere, and you insist we sit and get too comfortable again. Year after year, you can’t just go away, can you?
I really would wish you could pick someone else, but then, I know you already do. You pick so many of us every year, but that is your trick isn’t it? You add to your list of holiday guests, but you never take any off, do you? You are a masterful juggler that visits all over the world, simultaneously, never missing a beat. You wear out your welcome, with me, with everyone, and you can’t just give us a second, can you?
I want to be mad at you; really mad at you. I want to tell you I hate you, and I wish I never knew you. I want to tell you I don’t want you to invite yourself for the holidays this year, or any future year. It isn’t the truth though, is it? You and I both know that although you bring sadness, loneliness, nostalgia, it is only because of love that you have the power to bring the sad things too. In fact, because of you, memory lane is a bit sweeter, more treasured, more loved than if you didn’t accompany it. You bring the happiness, the smile that has tears spill over it, and you always, always bring perspective.
Our relationship, holiday-grief, is a complicated one. You suck life away from me, yet somehow you remind me what life is really about. You suck away the really, really annoying, petty, small things, and allow me to focus on the best memories of my life….and the present ones too. I despise you some days, and others I only want to wallow in your company. I’ll never understand how you can taint pure joy with the sharp bitterness of loss, but I’ll also never understand how you can bring the most distant memory to the very surface of my beating heart. Your complexity of bringing the biggest smile to my face, while tears trickle the corners of that smile happen all at once.
I don’t hate you. Our relationship of two-stepping between love and hate is so fine, so blurry I could never see where one side ends or begins. Some days you have no boundaries though, and you are too overbearing for me to handle. I can only hope you suck out the bad, but not the good. But that’s just not how you work, is it?
Holiday-grief, you suck. But I am used to your uninvited-self in my heart. I love the memories, so I guess I’ll let you stay.
Keep going in grief. It’s so worth it. XOXO-Kristina
Kristina Smith is a widow, mother, Special Education Administrator, Colorectal Cancer National Advocate, Blogger and Amazon Best-Selling Author of “What I Wasn’t Expecting, When I Was Expecting: A Grieving Widow’s Memoir”
You can purchase your personal copy of Smith’s memoir HERE.