Monday, December 19, 2011

christmas and growing pains.

Growing pains. Still happening at 30.

We moved to Boston in June and the transition has not been easy for me. I miss New York something fierce. Everything about it, even to the damn rats in the subway. I especially miss it during the holiday season: the tree seller on the corner of Jane and Hudson, the faux doors outside restaurants, walking down the streets and peeking in at trees in windows, midtown in all it’s holiday glory. I’m homesick for the city I love.

Our home is comfortable, and we have our first tree! First Tree! And a mantle decorated with pine branches, nutcrackers, candles and garland. It’s festive and warm. We've spent many nights cozy on the couch watching Christmas movies. The surface is holiday business as usual, but underneath is sadness. As we moved to Boston, Bryan’s sister moved to New Jersey and it was realized this was the year where we had to pick holidays. We decided to go to New Jersey for Christmas this year. I’ve felt sad about not seeing my family this year. I know they get it, but I feel guilty, and am trying to overcompensate.

Navigating this new baby family terrain is hard, really hard. Maddie over at APW was talking about family traditions and the importance of sharing those and participating as partners. I wrote a comment about how I never go to my dad’s grave, but I always drive past and wave high en route to my step-grandparents for Christmas Eve. He’s buried down the road from them. And then I burst into tears.

I came home the other night from a going away drinking thing for a friend, got into bed and burst into tears. I muddled through my emotions to Bryan and he got it, “It’s the first time you’ve been away from your family and it feels like a step farther away from your dad.”
Yes, more tears. Tears as I write.

Underneath it all, I feel like I’m going through the motions. The tree, the shopping for presents, listening to Christmas music. I’m just not into it. Maybe because work has been stressful, as I’m growing and learning so much, I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Or maybe because we did all of shopping online, with a heavy heart. (I hate shopping, for real. I don’t know Boston well enough yet to be efficient about it. I’m not even going to see my family open their gifts, so, there’s that. And it’s easy. Shipping is free. I did it in bed.)

Anyhow.... In the end, my heart is heavy for not having a connection to my family, which is the connection to my dad. We talk about making our own new traditions, but all of that just seems forced to me, and I feel sad about not being able to really remember traditions we had growing up. My folks were divorced, we didn’t have much money. I feel so incredibly alone and vulnerable, despite having an amazing husband who always listens and makes sure I’m taking care of myself, he’s taking care of me. Who makes time and space for me to talk about my feelings, and understands my somewhat snotty emails about “it’s a lot of family time.”

I’ve written many a times that the hardest part about grief was navigating a world in which my father was not a part of. And 8 years later, that is still very much true, especially as I’m learning how to navigate in a world with my own new family.