Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wish I Had A River

It has finally all caught up with me, I think.

It is Sunday and that is the day I was molested, most usually, when I was a child and the day I always have to wake up and fight my way out of, darkness descended before I open my eyes.

It is twelve days before Christmas and I have not done one thing to get ready. We can joke about it, but it's true and it's sad and I quiver in the enormousness of the job before me and how little I want to do it, how I have had my head hidden under a pillow, floating serenely down that river of denial. Just the thought of going upstairs to find the creche, to cut magnolia branches to cradle it in, makes my heart break. And the creche is the thing I truly love. The ritual that I adore, placing Mary and the baby and Joseph and the angel just so and then, because this is what we do, putting the little Buddha right beside them, smiling as if to say, "I am God, too! Let us be joyful in our Godliness!"

No. I don't want to.

Every year I think it will be better and now I have come to this year when we have a baby, a real live baby! to hold and love and treat as a Buddha, as a Christ Child, the way every baby deserves to be and yet, I think I have shut down completely when it comes to this Christmas stuff.

Listen- if you don't go to the stores, you don't have to hear the music. Santa Claus may be coming to town but if you don't go to town, you don't have to think about it. You can pretend it doesn't matter and has nothing to do with you. You can think about Aaron Neville singing "O Holy Night" or John and Yoko singing "Happy Christmas, War Is Over" or Handel's Messiah and yes, there you go, somewhere in the world someone is listening to those things and yet, to me they are a memory of some other time, they are a reminder of me trying with powerful music magic to transcend this seasonal sorrow and never...quite...making it.

Joni Mitchell singing "It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace and I wish I had a river I could skate away on," is more close to my bone.

It's not a joke. Some of us hate Christmas. Scrooges, Grinches, Evil Tiny-Hearted People who can't feel the joy, can't let in the light, can't believe the story of Only Begotten Son Come To Save Us From Our Sins. No. Some of us can't. Some of us had something broken inside of us and it's not just sorrow when this time of year comes around, it is anger, too, swift and powerful.

I could have chopped off Mr. Moon's head this morning when he finished up all the coffee in the pot with his enormous (but I've just had two cups!) mug and then left the pot empty, me not nearly there with my caffeine needs. I could have chopped off his head!
"Where do you want to go to get a tree?" he asks me. "What do you want for Christmas?"

Nowhere. Nothing. Leave me alone.

Peace, joy. What lies. Baby grows up to be crucified and then arises on the third day. What lies. Santa Claus is coming. What lies.

My mother told me that she waited until after Christmas to leave my drunken father. The one who had a gun. She waited until after Christmas, so as not to spoil it for my brother and me. And then, after that Christmas (which I do not remember and I remember EVERYTHING) we fled. No other word for it. In the middle of the night. I remember the fleeing. That I remember. And I remember darkness, I remember being inconsolable. I remember no lights, no joy, no peace, certainly no peace.

So please- when someone tells you they hate Christmas, don't judge. Please don't judge. If your heart is full of the lights and the songs and the joy and yes, the peace, the yearning for what the Baby promises, don't judge the person whose heart is not. Do you think they want to feel this way?

They do not.

I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY and would change it if I could.

Again. I will try. We will go get a tree. I'll go find the creche.

This afternoon I will hold that baby. I will hold him tightly and I will whisper, Santa Claus is coming. Santa is coming to see you.

I will tell him lies. Because it doesn't need to be ruined for him, too. I will put up a tree with lights to see his eyes take it in. I will try again not to be so sorrowful, so angry.

For the baby. For all my babies.

I'll try.
Even if it kills me. And it feels like it will.

A feeling is just a feeling. Fake it 'til you make it.

More lies. But ones I have to hold on to in order not to drown, rushing down this river. I don't even know how to skate and the rivers do not freeze here anyway.

It's Sunday. Almost Christmas.

I'm going to try.


  1. A friend gave me some cocktail napkins that say "one more fa-la-la and you're outta here" which are my only holiday decorations right now. I will scurry today to get the house decorated, but something about all that rain yesterday just seemed to flood the place with blah. Grandkids start arriving Tuesday though. But right now, Bah humbug has a nice ring to it.

    We used to laugh at my grandmother who had a tiny fake table top sized tree that stayed strung with lights, decorations and that probably toxic tinsel from the 60's. She'd just cover it up with a leaf bag and put it back in the attic after Christmas was over. Every year it came back out and she was done decorating. No muss. No fuss. Sounds like a plan to me.

    I love your blog. You are a real gift. Thank you.

  2. I love your pure honesty. It's so true all have our own reasons for the way we think and respond and we should never judge a person if we don't agree or understand. I am sorry that Sundays are so hard for you, as well as Christmas. That story broke my heart. I hope the day improves for you.

  3. I don't know, Ms. Moon, I don't know that I even have it in me to TRY. I have to, for the kids-but. BUT. Too tired and broken down and poor and weary to even really give a flying fuck. So-i get you-but you are far stronger than I because I just don't have it.

  4. I'm sorry.

    Maybe your kids could come in and do it all this year? And you could just be home with your family? Twinkly lights and tasty food, and I got you this I love you? No more than that?

    You put your feet up, you read a book, you eat and drink. This year is just a year... it's not those years. And there doesn't have to be any expectation.

  5. Jucie- I know it's not just me and maybe I wrote that so that the ones who feel like this can know they're not alone and the ones who don't, can understand a little bit better. I think the tiny tree is a good idea.
    I think I would sort of love one of those old aluminum trees that you shone the colored lights on.

    Nicol- It will improve. Owen is coming over later.

    Kori- No. I am not stronger AT ALL. I said I would try. I probably should have made that clearer: I will try to try. And I know you will too. And I wonder why we do.
    Oh yes. The children.

    Jo- I think that's how it's going to be, mostly. But doesn't Christmas, by very definition, come with its own expectations, commercial or spiritual or whatever?

  6. I guess. But maybe it's better to release them.

  7. Same here with me. Every year it gets harder to work up any enthusiasm for Christmas. I definitely prefer Thanksgiving. If I could get away with it, I'd leave for about a month after Thanksgiving. At least no one comes to my house yet. That time will come, I guess.

    I do the table-top tree like Jucie's grandmother.

    You have all those bad memories around Christmas. Not sure what my reason is for these feelings.

  8. christmas can be hard bread sometimes...some people open their presents..other people open their can be all joy and happyness...but it also can be a burden..i would never judge someone for not liking me christmas dont means that much anymore...its all about my family not about the date...i think of god and my religious things ally ear long..i dont need christmas for that..and when it comes to my family..if they would say lets have a christmas party in august i d be fine with that as long they are loved ones...

    ms moon...these dark moments get over...dont eb afraid of it..embrace your darkness and it will leave again and you ll shine...i m sure..i believe in you...

    by the best female friend renata..who is my friend since almost 19 years now..calls me grinch...i dont know why since i never said i dont like christmas..and she refuses to tell me the you..we grinches arent all bad small heartet people..:-)

  9. Gulp and tears.
    Yes, the darkness tries to seduce us over and over. The pull is so strong. Keep fighting, my new friend. Or not. Fight just how you are (beautiful true writing as always), enough to stay sane and enjoy the little lights you already have up (literally and Owen too). It is horrible, awful, heartbreaking that your trauma is linked with Sundays and Christmas. But it IS. You can't help that dear. Go slow. Go easy. Allow some of the anger and give yourself a break. You are so loved.
    Hugs and a brand new pot of coffee brewing for only you.

  10. PS I wish I had a river too.
    Love that song. But loved your added "I don't even know how to skate and the rivers don't freeze here anyway." You are a delight you know, even in your sorrow.

  11. If only wishing it could be better would make it so!

    Well I'm wishing that, just in case!!

  12. I can't even how it's Christmas soon. I did my shopping a month ago and shoved it in the back of the closet at my parent's house. The only good thing about it this year is that it gives me a reason to get back home for a bit.

  13. Love to you, my dear Ms. Moon. Lots of love.

  14. I don't judge. I don't think most people do. I think when they, we, seem to be acting judgey, we really are just being defensive because we are happy during this time. And every year that actually gets harder. Because of the economy. Because of the wars that go on and on and on and now are being escalated when we THOUGHT they were going to go in the other direction.

    That's a terrible association to have for this time of the year. The running and the other, I don't even like to say the term. I am sorry and wish it wasn't there. I'm with Jo, I think it is time for your grown children to come and decorate for Christmas and cook et al.

    I'll be happy until just after the New Year and then I usually fall into a deep dark hole brought by the cold and lack of sun. I just have a little time left.

  15. I am so grateful for your brave voice. And for not lying to yourself.

    And, oh, that coffee stealing...that's borderline criminal.

  16. If it weren't for the kids, I'd bag the whole thing too.

    So much expectation attached to a day and a fantasy. It seems there's no way to avoid disappointment. And if you add tragedy and fear an heartbreak, you're just fucked.

    Going through something similar here. Not as intense, but I hear you.

    Love, Michelle

  17. I used to love Christmas. When I was a child there were no presents, just loads of people and food and badly played music, singing and laughing, staying up all hours after the Midnight Mass. Then all of that became commercial, and plastic and nothing but my memories and the collection of antique ornaments make sense to me when I think of "Christmas".

    Deep in my heart I always love the concept of the Druids: bring greens and fire inside the house to remind us that beneath the frozen snow there is a rose awaiting to be born, and that the warmth of the fire will bring Light as well to keep away the Darkness. Although my memories of Christmas past are good ones, this year I have no oomph to go around like last year or the years before then filling the house with Christmas trees, and garlands and all I want, truly, is a quiet day with B.Loved sitting by the fire reading, talking and eating a good dinner.

    No presents (that I have hated ever since I moved to this country) no seasonal music, some quiet Bach or Mozart and the sense of thanks for reminding ourselves that Spring is coming, that while cold outside we have a roof over our heads, our precarious but holding health, and the knowledge that there are friends like you that share their hearts instead of the false expectations Wall Street and Madison Avenue have insisted on creating at the expense of reality and simplicity.

    Do as your heart asks my dear Ms Moon. It needs space and time to heal from old wounds, and Owen will have the rest of his life to remember the sweetness of any day with you, without having to resort to just one special day of the year. Whatever you decide to celebrate do it knowing we both love you and wish you, most of all, peace.

  18. Jo- One would if one could. And that was a sweet song. Thank-you.

    Joy- I think that at the bottom of it, everyone has a hard time with Christmas.

    Danielle- Yes. Some people open their presents, some people open their wrists. How very true. And I know, this darkness will pass. Just some days, some damn days- yi, yi. It's hard.

    Bethany- I always feel your words so strongly. Thank-you, sweet one.

    Jill- It can't hurt.

    SJ- And that will be lovely! Did you get the apartment?

    Ginger- Thanks, sweetie.

    Glimmer- We all need the light. And you know- if I asked my children or even gave them the slightest inclination, I know they would come and take over entirely. The would. They are wonderful, those children of mine.

    Nancy- Coffee-stealing. Well, that's the worst thing he did all day so really- I shouldn't be mad at him.
    But he better not do it again!

    Michelle- Yes. A fantasy and one that doesn't do a damn thing for me. I'm sorry we all have to bear this holiday heaviness. I am.

  19. I want so much to feel it but I just never do. I just want it to be over so my life can go back to my own version of normal. My family is horrified that I don't have a tree this year. I just don't WANT a tree. I hate the mess, the rearranging furniture, the constant screaming at my son and my cats to leave it alone.
    I know, I've said it all before so I won't repeat it all. Just know that I don't judge. Far from it.

  20. I understand this I know this and the parts of you trying to come together and understand each other making war when you most want peace- I know, I know. I love you Ms. Moon, for your spirit, your fight, your remembering honesty, your glorious heart, your transgressions and redemptions and acceptance of what cannot be redeemed- all of it, you have been deeply wounded and- you are not alone. I am here and I understand. Love is the only thing and keep banking on it. It will bring you around. Meanwhile I am so glad you told us about right now and how it is.


  21. The only way I know how to beat anything is to face it.

    Once you've hit anything head-on it never seems as big afterwards.

  22. jesus...what a piece of writing...i didn't know, I dont know if you've written about that before in your blog. what's sure is that the gorgeous baby is just gorgeous and he couldn't hope for a better grandma. hope this christmas is amazing, light and full of joy...

  23. Ms. Moon, you'll get no judgment from me. I wish this season could be easier for you. Take care of yourself,

  24. Allegra- Yes. If Christmas could be like that. Just- gathering, light, food. I am trying. I go through this every year and every year I get through it and there is always some sort of tree and always some sort of presents under it and we eat tamales and chicken salad and collard greens and we play games and it's all right. It's not even MY family or our celebration. It's the whole thing and yes, I can choose to ignore it but it creeps in, that stupid fantasy, as Michelle said, of all that it SHOULD be.
    I will think of you and your beloved, sitting by the fire and being happy to be together. I will think of that and I will smile. I promise you and it will bring me peace.

    Rachel- I understand.

    Maggie May- Thank-you. I always bank on love and yes, it always brings me through.
    I love you for those words and for all of it.

    Daddy X- I do. Every year. I do.

    Screamish- Yes. I've written about it all before. Old, old song. I am sure people are tired of it. I certainly am. But thank-you for what you said about Owen.

    Lora- I will and I hope it's a wonderful Christmas for you and your incredibly beautiful family.

  25. I think I did--I am faxing the application over tomorrow! As long as someone doesn't act first, i think I've got it.

  26. OH, I so messed up that last comment.

    It was meant to read a pretty song of all YOU Pretty people. Sheesh.

    Of course the self esteem in the room was high enough that everyone listened anyway, right?

  27. I never used to understand how folks hated christmas. I had great holidays as a child and brought my family those same holidays. Then as a single mom, I had to deal with the harsh realities of being poor. I realized the cost, the materalism , the waste. I was so ashamed. I don't hate it, but I certainly don't accept anything that would have made me crazy years ago. Not shoppping because I can't afford to gives me an incredible sense of peace. Celebrating or not is my choice , not somethig rammed down my throat. I can do what I feel like. I find I can enjoy the mayhem around me. " My, those cookies are good", What a pretty tree",and "How cute those outfits are" To everyone I say, "Have a Peaceful New Year". Which is what it should really be all about.

  28. I never used to understand how folks hated christmas. I had great holidays as a child and brought my family those same holidays. Then as a single mom, I had to deal with the harsh realities of being poor. I realized the cost, the materalism , the waste. I was so ashamed. I don't hate it, but I certainly don't accept anything that would have made me crazy years ago. Not shoppping because I can't afford to gives me an incredible sense of peace. Celebrating or not is my choice , not somethig rammed down my throat. I can do what I feel like. I find I can enjoy the mayhem around me. " My, those cookies are good", What a pretty tree",and "How cute those outfits are" To everyone I say, "Have a Peaceful New Year". Which is what it should really be all about.

  29. Ms. Moon, so sorry you are haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past. It is not fair. I could write a book about why I'm nuts this time of year. So much baggage.
    I'm with Allegra, I like the bringing in of the greens and the fire best. When I was a child, we walked in the woods and cut holly branches, picked crows foot, a most amazing forest groundcover and evergreen, and if we were lucky shook down some mistletoe. My favorite memories involve the extended family gathered for food and candle-lit carols around the piano, with alto and soprano recorders and three part harmony. It's all I ever want from Christmas. Not the endless worry over gift giving, guilt over cards received and not sent. I despised lying to my children, and keeping the childhood myths alive was my first huge compromise as a parent. I apologized profusely when the gig was up, and begged their forgiveness because otherwise, I don't lie to my children. My sad Christmases were about secrets and lies, most meant to protect the children, but that never really works, because children feel the truth even if no one will tell it to them. So I lied for a while about Santa, but the magic it made for them was almost worth the deception. Thank goodness that is behind me now.
    I'm guessing you'll get what Christmas spirit you need from spending time with those you love, who love you just the way you are, with our without the holiday trappings.
    Wishing you some sunshine, and an Owen fix to brighten your day. Here's something - every day after Christmas is a little bit longer and the nights a little bit shorter. I know winter is long, but something about the solstice passing makes me happy, like something is being given rather than taken. Hang in there, we're all pulling for you. Hugs.

  30. I hope that having Owen's shiny new soul around will help brighten it up for you this year.

    Love you Lovey,
    xo m

  31. Loves you, Mrs. M. Loves you a lot. Been there before. Sorry you're hurting.

  32. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this, that you have gone through this. And you are good and brave to share it and be so honest. I hate that you feel judged for NOT liking Christmas -- I find it ironic because I often feel judged for actually liking it. I guess it goes to show you that judging is profoundly wrong. When I was finished reading your post I wanted to bow my head and cry a little for you and then I wanted to make you laugh and then I thought that's it -- find something filled with life's absurdity, something truly joyous and light and while for me that might be a favorite movie or perhaps a David Sedaris essay, I'm not sure what it might mean for you. Take care, dear woman. Feel better.

  33. Christmas is a shitty thing designed especially to expose the misfits. I'm trying hard to love it for the children. And the husband, who loves all things Christmas. I hope you manage to cope with it. xxx

    (Been sick - have now finally got back to your blog. Still all sniffly, but I couldn't stay away any longer.)

  34. I'm so sorry for all you went through. It doesn't even seem fair. Your spirit is so gentle. I hope that whatever you do this "Christmas" (because it is a pagan holiday anyway) that you find peace with Owen in your arms and your children around your table. You touch me, and all of us and that is a Christmas miracle. You're sending out light in the midst of your darkness. That is God to me. Thank you.

  35. As usual, I am with you. Bah humbug.

    I love you, Mary. If you need me, e-mail or phone moi.


  36. At least it will be over soon.

    I've been thinking about that santa business. At 3, Austin doesn't really get it yet. Part of me just wants to skip that part. Or tell him it's just a nice story. I don't think Dan will agree though.

    And the religious part... ah hell. For me, Christmas is habit, not spiritual. Maya has her church, and I don't go. I'll just have to see as he gets older whether Austin feels anything for church.

  37. SJ- Best of luck!

    Sally- Amen!

    Mel- Those are beautiful memories. And I am very much looking forward to the solstice and will celebrate it in my own way.

    Ms. Fleur- It helped.

    Aunt Becky- Send me your aluminum tree! I yearn for it!

    Elizabeth- I DO feel better today. And you go on and ENJOY Christmas as much as you want!

    Mwa- Get better fast, sweetie!

    Tiff- Thank you for those precious words. I mean it!

    Ms. Bastard- Season of darkness, indeed! I'll call or e-mail if I need to, or better yet, if I WANT to, same here. Okay?

    Stephanie- Yes. It IS a habit. Can we break it?


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