My Dad hated Christmas and he thought we never knew, but we did...
It wasn't until decades later and one of the last Christmases he spent with us that the truth came tumbling out after one too many glasses of boxed wine, he drank from a coffee mug.
A lifetime of Christmas heartaches...
Christmas eves, lighting a candle on the grave of a sister he never knew, who died tragically the year before he was born. A grieving mother and father. A home eventually broken apart by that grief. A father who buried his grief with alcohol. A tenacious, but heartbroken mother. His own broken marriage. Most Christmases without his daughters. Christmases aren't supposed to be broken.
I was floored by Dad's inebriated honesty and tears, a sacred window into a brutal reality of his broken heart. A side of my Dad I would never see again.
Grief is something rarely spoken about at Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be merry and bright. Joyful. Happy. And in some moments it is all those things.
But that doesn't change the reality that for some Christmas brings heartache and sorrow. The struggle at Christmas is just as real as the joy, for them.
Sometimes Christmas feels like a season to be survived more than celebrated. If we can just get to January alive, that would be great.
Christmas is a hard time of year for me, for us. Loss, grief, wishing things were just a little different. A time of year when it becomes harder to accept, our broken or missing pieces. Reasons so personal. Reasons I used to run from, deny, convince other-wise, cover with blaring carols and acts of kindness. Now there is more of an acceptance that December is just hard.
I don't think my Dad ever knew he was allowed to hate Christmas, that his broken heart was allowed to be broken.
I think we are actually all a little broken at Christmas, that we all wish, grief, hope and mourn a little at Christmas...The problem comes when we don't allow ourselves or others to be broken, to feel honestly, to navigate this season the way they need to.
I never told my Dad how sorry I was for his heartache. How brave I thought he was for giving us special Christmas memories, in spite of his own grief. I never told him he was allowed to be broken, I wish I had....
So I tell you all, you're Christmases are allowed to be broken.