Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Oh, The Holidays

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the winter holidays for me. A big day of cooking and eating and family, and then off we go to the races of holiday parties and holiday events and Christmas Cards and the Christmas holiday itself.

Tomorrow will be fine. We are hosting Thanksgiving, and my husband's mom and stepfather are here from Maine and my parents are coming down and so we will have six people at our table. We are lucky, because there won't be people who aren't in the know about our family situation (or lack thereof), there won't be small children there, there won't be so many of the landmines and pitfalls that can beset a holiday dinner with family. There may be the off unintentionally thoughtless comment, but I think we can get through those. All in all, it will be not nearly as painful as it will be for others in our shoes, others wearing shoes we've worn before -- when no one knows the extent of your pain and you have to do a gritted smile through everything and try real hard not to scream when something thoughtless is said and attempt to make it through without drinking all the wine in the house.

The Christmas parties...they will be okay. We have a couple we're going to where I don't know very many people and neither does Bryce, and so the "do you have kids?" might come up, and I just don't have a socially appropriate answer to that one anymore. Much less when someone tells us how lucky we are not to have a babysitter or to get a full nights' sleep. Yes, yes, that's great, but we would RATHER BE HOME WITH A BABY, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

One Christmas party might be challenging but I am trying to keep an open mind. Challenging because there are expecting people going to this one and some new mommies and women who are obsessed with all things babies and children, and I have nothing to offer there and do not at all want to listen to a birth story or birth plan or how hard it is to make it through the holidays without a glass of wine. Luckily, there's also another couple who has no children, and while their circumstance is different from ours, they will be our allies that night. (It will also be challenging because there's a fair number of supporters for our president-elect, and I can't keep my big mouth shut when people say things that are just plain ignorant. I try to do it with kindness, but holy hell it's going to be hard if there is spewing of vile crap at this party. My goal is to both keep to my personal integrity and NOT get my husband in trouble, ha.)

Another is my work party, and this is usually awkward because everyone talks about their families. Not like parents-family, but children-family. I have NOTHING to add here. I have given all the updates I have. The people hosting have two small children and the house is full of evidence of tiny lives, and that can be hard. It's easier when my other administrator hosts, because his kids are mostly out of the house and his oldest is a senior. Not a lot of tiny person detritus in that house.

And...cards. Heh heh heh, cards. So you will remember that last year our holiday card featured the beautiful adoption shoot that we did in November. Well, a year has passed and no dice (story of our lives), so we decided to do a different kind of shoot. When I have the photos I'll share, but let's just say we spent a fair amount of time on Sunday doing a shoot that I like to call "Norman Rockwell Gone Horribly Wrong." Very tongue-in-cheek. Very different vibe from last year's abject hopefulness, but still not sad. Darkly humorous. I hope it comes across the way I want it to. I mean, I hired a photographer and got my hair done in period early 1950s style and did my face the same, so I sure hope it's worth it! Gave me a chuckle, at least.
Sneak peek of hair and makeup...
Finally...Christmas itself. Last year we stayed home and had a tree and had our family Christmas just the two of us, with Boxing Day with my parents. We hoped it would be the last Christmas just the two of us. Well, it wasn't.

So what we decided was to throw our holiday into the fuckit bucket, and book four nights in Vermont. It feels somehow selfish to spend a family oriented holiday by ourselves in a setting that's entirely restorative and based on outdoor activities, reading by the fire, eating and drinking decadently... but then again, things haven't worked out as we'd hoped yet again and so this will keep us from being sad saps around a tree in our living room, alone with each other again. It's going to be great. It's what we need. I am SO looking forward to it.

And so, that is how we are getting through the holidays. I look forward to the cards we'll receive, with children who once were babies and now are reaching double digits, even though they mark a march through time we've missed. I look forward to the parties and the get-togethers and sending out our own snarky card that shows just how time has stood still, in a cheeky way. I look forward to hiding away from it all in the valleys of Vermont.

I can hope that next year will be different, but if it looks like this, that's not too shabby either. I am pretty darn fortunate. I have an incredible love, friends to celebrate with, and the resources to hide away in a snowy mountain retreat. Although all the pieces we'd hoped for aren't in place, we have a beautiful life, and I am very, very thankful for that.

I hope the holidays are kind to everyone this year. I hope you find a spot of brightness in what can be a dark time if your family isn't where you'd hoped it would be.

11 comments:

  1. Oooo. You look marvelous darling! And I fully support your Christmas card theme. Years ago, good friends would buy ugly sweaters, dorky looking glasses and she would do her hair up in misplaced braids for a Christmas photo shoot. Those cards always left me with belly aches from the laughter.

    A plan is good. And ignore anyone you criticizes because you are doing what's best for you and your family. Just enjoy the moments that you can and know that you are rocking those hard moments (especially when grinning while someone else spews nonsense).

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    1. Thank you! Getting those pictures to put on the card shortly here... now to choose between them so our card isn't overwhelming. I think a goofy, funny card is so important. I hope for the belly aches! :)

      Yes, yes to plans. I totally got made fun of for overplanning the Thanksgiving meal at the start, but when it all came together beautifully, my post-it notes and I got the last laugh! I'm all for enjoying the moments and trying to stay above the tide of conflicting feelings. :)

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  2. I like your last bit, Jess: "I am pretty darn fortunate... Although all the pieces we'd hoped for aren't in place, we have a beautiful life". I felt too bitter to be able to say this until very recently, and I think that when you start feeling even a bit fortunate, some healing or recovery has definitely taken place.
    Special shout-out for the "fuckit bucket" too.

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    1. Ha! I stole the "fuckit bucket" in some respects from a young adult novel I read recently, although I don't think I could tell you which one! How embarrassing. It was too good not to use over and over. :) I do think there's healing. I can talk about these things and not cry most days. I can be bitter some days, and overwhelmingly grateful on others, but most days I'm a mix of both. Which is healthy, right? :)

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  3. You look really pretty in that photo btw! Looking forward to seeing how the shoot turned out. Hope you'll both get through the difficult moments over the holiday season (such as hanging around Trump supporters!!) and enjoy the happy moments.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am hoping to go mostly bright-sided this holiday season. Having a trip to look forward to and a ridiculously high-maintenance-yet-hilarious card in the works helps. I hope you have a great holiday season, too!

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  4. Your photo shoot sounds so cool, and I really like the hair and makeup: such a different look! I admire your creativity. Our Christmas is going to be pretty low key, and it takes me at least until December before I can even face the thought. No band this year so no Christmas music to prepare. We used to do fun things like caroling in the neighbourhood with friends but that hasn't happened in years....maybe should try to revive that tradition. Hmmmmmm. Also this first year without my dad, and anniversary of the point where he started getting really, really sick. It's good to remember that we're totally allowed to be conflicted, complicated people! I think I might just dig out Moyà Brennan's Christmas CD and swim in it till New Year's.

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    1. Oh, Torthuil... this must be such a difficult time. Having the celebration everywhere juxtaposed with your loss could make that absence felt even more intensely. I feel like the whole holiday season is conflicted -- so much going on, so much pressure, and so hard to balance out the joy with the loss of your dad (or others I know who've lost their mom or their husband recently). I think some caroling might be in order, even if it's just you and your family! :) Swim in that beautiful music. It seems so healing for you.

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  5. Love the look, and can't wait to see the Rock(not so)well photos. Sounds intriguing!

    I really love the abundance and gratitude you express toward the end of this post. You inspire me in some of my own challenges.

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    1. Heh heh, I can't wait to get it all pulled together! It is SO MUCH FUN. I don't want to spoil it before they go out, but holy hell was that fun. I fear that a martini glass makes too prominent of an appearance, but it is only filled with water and my miniature lemon peel twist!

      I'm trying for the gratitude. It helps so much in the absence of what we'd hoped to have achieved by now to focus on all the wonderful things we have in each other and our lives, how fortunate we are now just us chickens. It takes some of the sting out of being assailed with everyone's family pictures on social media and being smacked with just how long we've been unsuccessful on that front. But gratitude! Yes!

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  6. You'll get through it. You always do. Even pregnant, this year stung. There was the "don't you want kids?!" from people who didn't know and the "last year I was pregnant and this year you are!" from people who did. I just wanted to scream that we have TWO babies that should be here right now, even though that isn't physically possible, and that just makes it worse, that I was supposed to be pregnant last year, too. It's awful and it's not fair, but it gives us a talent for finding the small comforts and joys.

    You look so pretty! We just send box cards from the store every year. Oops.

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