Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Not a humbug, but…

I have nothing against Christmas, I just don’t really care about it anymore. I don’t think there was a single moment where my earlier enthusiasm for it ended, and instead I think it just kind of fell by the wayside out of disuse, and probably disinterest. That sort of thing happens all the time.

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas—not a unique thing, obviously, but it’s where I started. For many years after I became an adult, I’d put up a tree and other decorations, but when I moved to New Zealand, everything felt out of kilter with Christmas being in hot summer weather. I’ve often thought that’s what started killing off my enthusiasm.

However, Nigel also wasn’t terribly interested in the hoopla—decoration, gift buying, all that sort of thing. What he and I both loved about the day was spending time with family, probably eating too much and sometimes maybe drinking too much in my case. It was just a nice, relaxed day with few demands (other than getting the food for Christmas Lunch all out at the same time).

Our family had a tradition for awhile that whoever had most recently moved to a new home would host Christmas for whoever in the family was around (in any given year, folks might be away, especially when the nieces and nephews became adults and had kids of their own). Christmases became smaller as a result, but they were still nice.

Last year, being the most-recently moved, I hosted a small gathering of family at my house, and it was a lovely day. At the time, I was thinking something that’s come back to me many times:
Last year, I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it was the lack of any traditions with Nigel that made it much easier for me than I thought it could be, but it ended up being roughly what I expected. However, even then I didn’t realise how lucky I was to not have traditions. I’ve seen an extraordinary amount of deep pain expressed on the Facebook group pages for gay widows/widowers I’m part of. It’s been heart-wrenching, and it’s left me thankful, if that’s the right word, for being in a better position than I could have been in.
I know that many people most keenly miss those they’ve lost when the holidays roll around, but I just don’t have that, because, as I also said in that post, “I miss [Nigel] every single day, holiday or not.” In fact, our birthdays and anniversaries have affected me far more than Christmas has. That’s a good thing, I guess?

This year, though, I did something different: I put up our Christmas tree, something we never did in the two Christmases Nigel and I had at our last house. Nigel saw the tree at a NZ department store called Farmer’s, and sent me there to buy one, though I don’t remember what year that was. I know do that the first year I included it in a blog post was back in 2009.

After 2009, we sometimes put the tree up, sometimes we didn’t, but the last time we put it up was for Christmas 2016, our last Christmas before we moved from Auckland’s North Shore to the last house we shared. There’s no actual reason why that was the last year, it was probably that putting the tree up was mostly up to me, and I just never found the right spot for it at our last house.

This year, I thought about getting a new tree and hanging ornaments again, but the truth is that right now, I’m not entirely sure where the ornaments are (I think they’re buried in the garage somewhere). Besides, it just “felt right” to use what was our tree, one that Nigel chose, for (at least) one last time. Back in 2009, there was also a garland I found and jokingly hung on a clay mask that was hanging on our wall, a joke I continued doing every year we put up the tree. I put that back up this year, too.

So, minimal decoration, minimal fuss, kind of like it always was in many other years—it’s just in an entirely different context this year. I don’t know that I’ll put any decorations up next year—or ever again, for that matter—but this year, and for no particular reason, I did.

I have nothing against Christmas, it’s just that I don’t really care about it anymore. For me, it’s not that it’s a humbug, it’s just it’s a yawn. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I know that for others Christmas is a very big deal, indeed, and I hope those folks have one that’s as special and magical as they hope it will be. I know that, in my own way, I will.

The photo up top is of my "Christmas decorations" this cloudy afternoon. Leo is inspecting the tree (left), something he's never seen (or sniffed…) before. The clay mask (right) is better adorned this year than it was in 2009, the first year I did that. Nothing stays the same forever, after all.

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