Christmas: It’s A Love/Hate Kind Of Thing

We have made it through another Christmas! Here in central Illinois it was a white Christmas for the first time in a while. At least it feels like it’s been a while. Houses throughout our neighborhood were lit up in all kinds of ways. Christmas trees were up, decorated, and loaded with presents underneath. The sound of increased Amazon deliveries was in the air. Everything, together, makes for a festive holiday season. So why do I have so much trouble getting into it? I love it. I always have, but I also hate this time of year.

Growing up, I was all about Christmas! It was magical. Everything seemed bigger than life and I like the feeling of happiness and joy the holiday season would bring me. I looked forward to going out and buying our family Christmas tree and then decorating it. I was all about Santa and everything Santa stood for.

Even as I got older, I never lost the holiday cheer. Dinners with friends. Walking down Michigan Avenue checking out all of the store fronts. My wife and I put on holiday music and decorated our Christmas tree. I’ve always liked getting together with our families and enjoying the time we get to spend together.

But all of this has changed. At least the feeling of Christmas has changed. I still love the idea of Christmas. I love getting together with my family and friends. I love seeing the look on our nieces and nephews faces as they open up their presents. That is pure joy and it can melt through even the coldest of hearts!

Part of me absolutely despises this holiday, though. This was not always the case, but it has been for quite a few years now. It popped up after my wife and I decided to stop trying to have kids. We were emotionally and mentally drained. It just didn’t seem right for my wife to keep going through so much bullshit to just be disappointed again. And so we have tried to live with it ever since. Some year’s holiday seasons have been better than others.

At the age of 46, Christmas is all about the kids. It’s all about our nieces and nephews, which I love this part, but Christmas likes to sucker punch. It is a constant reminder that we could not have kids. Christmas was a magical time for me when I was growing up. I wanted, more than anything, to pass this experience on to my kids. I should have been able to pass this experience on to my kids. But, God has different plans for us whatever that means.

This year, I found myself more angry than a lot of the other years. This year, I have found myself being mad at God. Like seriously pissed. It totally ruined the holiday for me. Of course there were the moments that I still loved, but my anger was casting a shadow over what should have been a better experience blah blah blah.

And it just came out of nowhere. These types of moments are always fun…not!

I wasn’t planning on going this route, but it just hit me. I wanted nothing more than for it to all be over. As far as I was concerned, we could have skipped this year’s Christmas all together.

Not really though, but kind of really though. Not sure if that makes sense. I don’t want to skip Christmas, but I kinda do at the same time. I wouldn’t trade in my time with my family. Not ever. None of the negative feelings were about them or anyone for that matter. This was all me. This was an ongoing internal battle I’ve been fighting as of late. It always happens on some level this time of year.

At my family’s Christmas, we had a huge breakfast full of casseroles, breakfast pizzas, bagels, and biscuits and gravy. It was awesome. We followed this up with the madness that is the kids opening their presents. It was loud. Kehl Christmas is loud. It was awesome, but I sat out of the way and mostly outside of the action. It was great, but also a bit overwhelming from an unrelated-to-this-stuff anxiety thing I was having with all the stimulus that was around. We ended up playing a game that the whole group could play and it was fun. I enjoyed it. We are a game playing family after all!

I found myself feeling super flat the whole time. I felt like I was loving it, but at the same time I found it hard to totally get into it. This part I hate, because I love Christmas with my family.

At my wife’s family Christmas, we arrived to my wife’s parents’ house a little after noon on Christmas Day. The family was assembled. The whole house smelled like my mother-in-law’s cooking. She is one hell of a cook! We ate and then the madness of opening presents began. At my wife’s family’s house it’s a total free for all. My family is crazy loud and my in-laws do the free for all method, which is a lot of fun. All you hear is ripping and tearing. You’ll hear “thank you” and “I love it” being thrown around amongst the shredding. After that we hung out and watched football. We also played a group game that a friend brought over and it was also a lot of fun. Another really good day!

Again, I found myself flat and way more quiet than usual. Again, I couldn’t share any of this with kids of my own. This has been a repeating thought.

It didn’t help that this was the first Christmas without my wife’s dad. We made the absolute most of it and I think he would have been proud.

I still had the angry feeling. It subsided some through the day, but it was still there. I also had a really good time. It’s so crazy!

This is all so hard to explain. How do you explain something where you feel two opposite emotions at the same time. I didn’t have just a bad Christmas, but I didn’t have just a good one either.

Basically, Christmas is a really jacked up time for me. It’s exhausting. You try so hard to feel good, as you try so hard to push the bad away…constantly. It really is exhausting.

Overall, I am alright. I am glad that I have been feeling much better the last few months. I feel this is why I didn’t completely crash and why I feel like I am rebounding back.

I know I’m not alone in having these types of feelings towards Christmas. There are a lot of people who struggle through the holidays for various reasons. We can help each other and it’s comforting to know you are not alone in thinking a certain way.

Now, back to being unemployed and on the lookout for the next gig…sheesh! I feel myself being pulled more and more to go the nursing route. Who knows? We will soon, hopefully, because it’s time to get rocking on finding my next job.

I Got This! You Got This! We Got This! Let’s keep walking this path together…

Have a great day!

Jason

Come on by and hang out with us over at www.rockingmentalhealth.com. People like you and me, sharing their stories and experiences using some form of creative expression. Check it out!

Published by Jason Kehl

Nurse, artist, musician. One I have done professionally and two I have not😉. I enjoy creating art and music as a hobby. I do it mostly because it helps me to feel better or express something that I feel inside. I am a believer in Mental Health Awareness. My goal is to throw myself out there in hopes that someone sees it and can gain the strength to seek help or keep working on themselves. We are an unfinished product! That's OK!

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