Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are you hurting during the holidays?



At least once every holiday season, I have a meltdown. I sit between the Christmas movies on TV and the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree and cry. It seems like everywhere I go everybody is celebrating Christmas with their kids, whether it’s the school holiday pageant, my friends all heading out to be with their children and grandchildren, or those TV shows where everybody is gathered together, young and old, from babies to great-grandparents. Here, it’s just me and the dog. I will be spending Christmas afternoon with a childless friend at his senior citizen mobile home park potluck. That will be nice, but it’s not exactly a Hallmark holiday.

Last week I wrote about getting off our pity pots and joining up with our friends and family with kids to help them and to ease our own grief. I still think it’s a good idea. But let’s be honest. Sometimes we’re just hurting too much to do that sort of thing. We just want to hide under the covers until the holidays are over. Watching other people with their kids is the last thing we want to do.

“It’s just another day,” says my Scrooge-y father, who does no Christmas decorations or other festivities. He just writes a few checks for his kids and calls it Christmas. He never was big on holidays and since Mom died, forget about it. He has children and grandchildren, but he doesn’t do warm, fuzzy relationships.

It’s all about attitude. I plan to make the best of my holidays. I will enjoy the food and friends, the music and colored lights. I will enjoy giving and receiving presents. I will be working my church music job Christmas Eve and Christmas morning—my choice—to keep myself busy. I plan to have fun at that potluck. Will I shed a few tears? Probably.

Dad also likes to say, “It is what it is.”

I don’t want to alienate anyone by getting all religious, but think about what we are celebrating this time of year, whether you’re welcoming the birth of Jesus, celebrating Hanukkah, or enjoying the winter solstice. Whether or not you have children has very little to do with it. Try to see the blessings that you have, even if you’re looking at them through tears. To paraphrase the old Crosby, Stills and Nash song, “Love the ones you’re with.”

And turn off the TV if it makes you cry.

How are you doing this week? Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ease your grief by helping parents at Christmas



It’s the Christmas season. Our friends and relatives with children are going nuts with everything they have to do: buying presents, decorating, baking, attending Christmas concerts, getting their little ones ready for holiday gatherings and maybe arranging visitations with ex-wives and ex-husbands. Soon the kids will be home from school all day on Christmas vacation/winter break/whatever-the-politically correct term is. They’ll need full-time care along with entertainment when they get bored. Moms and Dads may be wishing they could clone themselves or at least grow a couple extra hands.

That’s where we come in. I know some of us want to run away from everything child-related because it reminds us of what we don’t have. Been there, done that. But maybe we should stick around and offer to help.

Instead of whining and resenting, pitch in. It will help you to feel included instead of left out. It will give you a chance to connect with children, if not as a mom or dad as least as a favorite aunt or uncle. Offer to spend time with the kids, to babysit, to help with presents or cards or baking. Take them shopping for gifts for their parents or help them to make them. Read them a Christmas story or watch a movie together. They may not be your own biological children, but there is nothing to stop you from loving them--with their parents' permission, of course.

I still remember when my childless step-grandmother sat at the piano with me and taught me her favorite Christmas carols. I have no idea where my parents were at that time. I just remember how fun it was and how special to have that time together. Decades later, I had a similar experience with my own step-granddaughters. It was my favorite Christmas. Kids love the grownups who love them and pay attention to them. You can be one of those grownups, and it will help ease your pain.

If you don’t have any friends or family with children nearby, volunteer for a children’s charity or buy gifts for needy kids.

I know it’s hard. You may be worried sick about how or if you’re ever going to be a mom or dad, but right now, this holiday season, you don’t have kids, so love someone else’s. It’s the next best thing and their parents will be grateful.

Take a deep breath. Make a phone call or send a text. Make a connection. 

Do you have suggestions for surviving the holiday season? Please share them in the comments.

Peace, my friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sometimes you have to stick with your decision



You know what drives me crazy? When someone who has been married for 15 or 20 years decides to break up a marriage because NOW one of them has decided they have to have children. Sometimes it’s the one with baby lust who ends it. Sometimes it’s their partner because they can’t bear the resentment of the childless spouse—or because they believe that ridiculous old saying if you love them set them free.

Here’s a thought. Why not stick to the commitment you made years ago to stay together for the rest of your lives, no matter what? Rich or poor, in sickness or in health, through snoring, foot fungus, cancer scares and second thoughts about not having kids? So many people who comment here mention that they love this person, that he/she is their soul mate and they don’t know if they’ll ever find anyone else they love this much. Yet they’re thinking about leaving in the hope they’ll find someone else who has all the same great qualities, along with a yearning to be a parent.

The grass is not always greener, and the eggs are not getting any fresher. Before you leap out of a relationship or poison your relationship with resentment, consider that when you accepted this person into your life, you accepted the whole package, including his family, his kids from previous relationships, his big nose or balding head, and his reluctance to parent. Sometimes, as with my first marriage, there are a lot more problems besides disagreeing over whether to have children. That marriage was doomed. But if you really love him (or her), you stop looking around and considering other possibilities and other lives. Think about it.

Enough nagging. It’s the holidays. I hope you all survived Thanksgiving and are looking forward to Christmas. I spent Turkey Day with my dad, brother, and my sister-in-law’s vast family. All of the other women had children, lots of them. They also had living mothers and husbands. Did I feel a pang of sadness and loss? You bet. But then I thought about having to buy Christmas presents for six children and sixteen grandchildren, and I felt lucky. I can hang out with my niece and nephew and shower them with gifts. I can love the young people who are in my life through church and my writing and music activities. Then I can come home and do Christmas my way—and stay out of the shopping mall. I don’t mind that at all.

How are you doing this holiday season? Let us know in the comments.