I know I’ll probably get an inbox full of ever-so-politely worded feedback over this but I have to say it: I HATE CHRISTMAS.
Not just the massive sensory overload, although there definitely is that, and loads of it. But there’s also decades of various trauma surrounding this time of year.
As a child who was undiagnosed growing up in a house with an abuser, it was especially difficult for me. Well before the age of 4, I had already learned to “read the room” as far as emotional vibes go. Heck, I could read the whole house from my bedroom closet. I had to in order to survive. The abuser in my home was always extra stressed this time of year, so there was extra winter anxiety pretty much ingrained into my nervous system in my formative years. Even as an adult, my body still readies seasonal “fight or flight” mode each year. Like clockwork.
We escaped the abuser just after I turned 4, and the rest of my childhood was spent in abject poverty. Most of our gifts were usually from various charity organizations where all they knew was your age and presumed gender, so it really seemed like Santa didn’t give a crap about how good I was (or tried so desperately to be), considering he didn’t even pay enough attention to me to even know what I liked.
That particular dynamic *severely impacted* my mental health when my neurodivergent traits started to become more than I could mask, because it was assumed these were flaws in my character rather than things for which accommodations should be made. When most of the adults treat you like you’re choosing to fail, and then the magical adult who rewards you for giving it your best effort seems to not think you deserve any of even the tiniest things you’ve wished for, it kind of hurts. A lot. Like, *a lot* a lot. It could shatter a kid, and it did.
So having grown up in poverty, as soon as I was old enough to work an official job, I went out and got one at 15. I spent the next two decades in and out of different retail jobs, being forced to listen to the same 1.5 hour loop of Top 40s Holiday Tunes for 9+ hours a day while at the same time being worked to the bone by uncaring employers and being downright abused by ungrateful customers who were kind enough to spread their version of “the holiday spirit” by taking their frustrations out on underpaid service workers.
I spent my first few years of parenthood in the comfy confines of what would be considered a “lower middle class” combined income, but when my marriage fell apart that small amount of security was ripped out from under me. I was already physically Disabled to where I couldn’t work without accommodations, which with my background and career of experience meant I couldn’t work at all because good freaking fogging luck trying to get a retail job when you can’t stand, bend, and lift for more than a few minutes let alone all day.
So here I am, back in poverty again, trying to make magic happen for three amazing kids who deserve the world and the moon and the stars and everything in between. This year they haven’t even really asked for anything, which totally breaks my heart.
I’ve at least managed to get them each a new pair of boots, some cute socks, a Lego set, and a book. I just need to make it to a dollar store to stuff their stockings as inexpensively as possible. Those little items really add up when everything has to be bought ×3.
I’m trying to get into “the spirit” for the kiddos, I really am. Maybe once we get the tree up it’ll help. Taking them each shopping for little gifts for each other and family used to help, but with covid and all, we’re doing more online than we used to. If I can’t find the joy soon, I’ll just slap on a metaphorical mask and fake it ’til I make it.