Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. The lights, the carols, the general anticipation in the air. I have loved it since I was a kid. I grew up enjoying the holiday as a cosy one, just for the nuclear family…with probably the odd guest or two. We were never a family to troop off to the Amusement Park or Federal Palace Hotel on Christmas day. Not at all. Our ritual was first to go for Mass, and then come home to good food and good company. If we had visitors, that was fine, as there was more than enough food to go around, but it was a holiday meant just for us.
Then I got married, and automatically assumed the same. Our first Christmas as a couple was shortly after our wedding, so everyone let us be. By our next Christmas, it was a different story! Everyone just assumed that, since we had no kids and it was just us two, why on earth would we want to spend it at home alone? Both sets of parents, and more than a few friends, just could not understand my lone ranger attitude. Eventually, we caved and reluctantly proceeded to host a number of our friends and family – a party, if you will. When everyone had gone, and I was left alone with the clean up, I realized I felt robbed. For the first time in probably forever, I was left bereft of my Christmas afterglow. And I knew it had nothing to do with my well meaning friends and family, who had given us their time and company that day. No, this was all me. And if I was being true to myself, it had started way longer than that Christmas day.
Thinking back to a month prior, I realized that I had never quite gotten into the Christmas spirit. We were neck deep in our fertility investigations, and I was prepping for a laparoscopy and another hysteroscopy, scheduled for the New Year, so I had not allowed myself to get into the joy of the season. Somehow, I had skipped the monumental task of buying a Christmas tree, instead choosing to, half heartedly, throw some flimsy fairy lights around my living room, some days to Christmas. And then the penny dropped. Infertility had turned me into a Grinch!
I realized that my irritation had started with the emergence of the first set of Christmas decorations. Years prior, I would look forward to driving down the Marina, Falomo roundabout, or Ajose Adeogun street, because of the wonderful and breathtaking display of lights. But that year, they gave me goose bumps and literally made my skin crawl. My office’s Secret Santa ritual, which I had previously been a champion of, became a chore for me, with me purchasing the gift I was to present the very morning of the exchange. Speaking of gifts, by December 23rd, I had not bought a single gift for anybody, not even hubby dearest. This was me that would have gleefully started putting away gift items as early as summer, in previous years. My office didn’t have a party that year, which was very fine by me, but in addition, I made excuses for all the other Christmas party invitations I did receive. I changed the channel at the first note of a carol, and didn’t participate in any of my Church’s activities.
Somehow, I had allowed my baby quest rob me of my Christmas joy. I had allowed myself believe that, because we didn’t have a baby yet, there was nothing to celebrate. I had allowed myself forget the very essence of Christmas….the gift of Christ to us. And that was what had turned my Christmas heart from its usual colours of glittery gold, emerald green and scarlet red….to a sour, dour black.
The following year, in the weeks leading to Christmas, I was in a worse place emotionally. My IVF cycle had just failed, and I was still dealing with the ensuing heartbreak and devastation. But somehow, I was able to pick myself up and get into the Christmas spirit. I still couldn’t bring myself to buy a tree, and still resorted to the flimsy fairy lights strewn across my living room. But when the first set of lights popped up on Ajose Adeogun, I allowed my heart smile. I allowed myself go crazy with gift shopping, even buying my Secret Santa present before I even knew if the person I was gifting would be male or female. I made more charitable contributions, danced away merrily at the office Christmas party (and numerous other social functions), and genuinely found myself gradually easing into the spirit. And on Christmas day, we willingly hosted our friends and family, and, for the rest of the Christmas week, I was on a very wonderful holiday high, with everything happy in my world. I knew I would have to face reality in the New Year, but for the time being, I was content to just find joy in the fact that I had Christ, a wonderful husband, the best family I could wish for, friends who loved me, good health, a great job…I had everything to be thankful for. Hopefully soon, a baby would join that list.
And by the next Christmas, our babies had come. My heart was so full, it could burst! As a new Mom, I was too frazzled to remember the Christmas tree, or gifts, or take any notice of decorations, but my Christmas joy was very present. And what a wonderful Christmas it was!
Today, the flimsy living room fairy lights have been replaced by a beautiful, shamelessly bedazzled, Christmas tree. My outdoor decorations are set up by the end of November (sorry neighbours), and my Christmas playlist is on repeat from December 10th, with Nat King Cole singing about chestnuts roasting in an open fire. And yes, having people over on Christmas day has become our annual ritual, replacing my childhood nuclear family celebration idea.
Christmas gifts are chosen, wrapped, given, and received, with excitement and glee. And the joy on the faces of my wonderful blessings from God makes it truly worth it. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Dennis Owusu-ansah