I love the quiet early hours of the morning. I get up, put the kettle on, make tea, open the curtains and slide back under the covers to keep warm. It has been a cold winter so far. This morning I turned the Christmas tree lights on early. The room looks warm and inviting and safe. Domestic bliss. A few years back it was not like this. I was sitting in a campground and opening cans of whatever was left in the cupboard to make food for the children, my friend and myself. A camp ranger came to the door. That was never a good sign, we had paid, and I was sure we had a few more days before we had to move on as per campground rules, but my heart sank. The ranger had an envelope in her hand: it was the money I had slid into the iron ranger to pay for the day. “I can’t accept this, it’s Christmas. Have a free day today and tomorrow.” She then went back to her truck and pulled a christmas tree off the back of it, and a box of lights and decorations. The kids stood there grinning as she put the cut off stump of the tree into a holder and passed them the decorations. She then handed me a big bag of groceries, and a couple of gift wrapped presents for the children. I stood in the middle of the forest and cried.
Today I have a shower in my apartment and a toilet. I don’t have to be grateful for the ability to walk down a trail to a communal camp shower or sit with dirty hair and stinking because there is nowhere to get clean. Today there is food in the fridge, and a few gifts for the kid. Today I have a little window garden and a view of the City. I have the Boy and I have Ruthie and I have my self respect. I even have a little box of THC gummies and a small lump of hash. I don’t have two of my family members. As comfortable and grateful as I am, today is hard for me.
I woke up and said happy christmas to someone who is not here any more. I said it to the wind and hoped it carried somewhere meaningful. I didn’t let myself look at photos or read old Christmas cards. Today I cannot cry. Today I have to be fun and sweet and kind and happy. Today I have to cope. Once the new year is out the way I can start to feel better again, I hope, or at least feel able to cope with it all once again.
I don’t believe in Jesus. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but it is my holiday too, in a secular way. I believe in the power of memories and the way that love never dies. I believe in creating memories for those we leave behind to sustain them after we have gone. That is what I am going to try and do today: make some memories with the Boy to sustain him once I have gone. All I want from life, let alone Christmas, is to somehow, miraculously, be able to stay close to him. It is all I have left.
Happy holidays, merry xmas….and hold on in there…