Pretend

During the holidays as a child my siblings and I generally played the “pretend” game…which means we lied to our peers and anyone else who asked about them. Talking about what happened at home was not allowed and doing so would result in unpleasant, and often painful, consequences if we were caught. So we made up stories of gifts and gatherings so it wouldn’t be so obvious what a mess we really were.

The reality of the holidays was they were a double whammy: no school for two weeks AND poor weather which meant being stuck inside.

I know now that my dad was at the lowest parts of his “cycle” from late November until mid-January and I know now that some of the resulted from his own miserable childhood. As a child, though, it was a lonely and fearful time of year. At least during the summer months it was warm outside and light later and so we could hide play in the row of hedge trees. That wasn’t a possibility in the frozen months of winter, no matter how much we bundled up.

Every afternoon when I get home from work (if I get home at my regular time) I sit outside in the sunshine, letting its warmth soothe away the day and remind me that it isn’t that way anymore, that the holidays don’t have to be time of fear and dread anymore.

So I put up a tree, simple, with unbreakable butterfly and dragonfly ornaments, with bells lining the bottom branches in order to warn me when a curious puppy (or 3) gets too close. I still found Luke nose to nose with Joseph under it this morning, and laughed, because he worked so hard to get there without touching a bell. I hung lights outside and even turn them on.

But it’s an effort to not just retreat and hide until it’s all over.

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