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I thought I had gotten rid of all of his-and our- Christmas ornaments. While listening to what should have been upbeat holiday music on Pandora, however, Canon in D started playing. My wedding processional. Probably most people’s wedding processional, and definitely NOT what I thought of as a Christmas carol. It was at that moment that I grasped the last ornament from the bin, with it’s gold writing scripted in the center of the bauble: “2004- our first Christmas together.” The pain that filled me when I saw that was too reminiscent of our initial happiness. I allowed myself the time to think of those memories. Then, however, my mind moved forward. I thought of our divorce.

Deep breath. 
I fast-forwarded the song and Bing Crosby declared it a white Christmas.

Breathe again. 
I looked out the window, but there was no snow.

How lucky for the seasons to be reborn each year and to start anew. Soon, I reminded myself, the ground would be covered in the clean, bright, purity of the newly fallen snow; the world would seem to be beginning once more, and I would too, again, for what seemed like the millionth time.

I immediately defaulted to happier times as I thought of holiday seasons past, when I was a little girl, unable to sleep the night before in anticipation of the loot that would be waiting for me under the tree (I was also hopped up on sugar from the enormous Christmas Eve party my parents would host each year).

I tried to listen carefully for the tapping of reindeer hooves on the roof. I would always think that I’d heard them, then I’d shut my eyes as tightly as I could, in an attempt to fool Santa, as though he had the ability to miraculously deliver gifts to every boy and girl on the planet in one night, but wouldn’t be able to tell that I was faking being asleep.

In the morning, I crawled out of bed as soon as the first light of morning broke through my window, and woke my little sister, who was still able to somehow sleep despite all the excitement. We’d call downstairs to our parents then, hoping we could see if, in fact, Santa had delivered.

“Go back to sleep!” my Mom would yell back to us. “We’ll go check at 8.”

It seemed like we were sitting at the top of the stairs for hours: frantic and energetic and eager and hyper. Our feelings of excitement were much warranted, as Christmases at our house were plentiful. Maggie and I would race down the stairs when the time finally came. We’d see that under the tree beheld everything we had asked for; everything we had wanted and not even known we had wanted. Meticulous wrapping that just begged to be torn apart within moments ended up covering the floors as Maggie and I squealed in a pure glee that comes from unadulterated happiness. Unadulterated because thoughts of clean-up, anxiety about money, and the pressures of time had never occurred to us.

As time ambled its way forward, my mom struggled to maintain Christmas as it was, though our family had changed drastically when my dad left, and our finances had changed drastically when the divorce was finalized. By that point I was a teenager, and stress had more of a presence in my life than it had in years past. We no longer lived in the big house in an exclusive part of town. My mom no longer hosted a hundred friends for Christmas Eve. My sister and I no longer waited in excited anticipation for what Santa had brought us. The life that we had as children had ceased to exist, and what we knew of as our family had been born again. Everything was different.

We survived. We grew. We even thrived.

~


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