I’ve always loved to give presents. Always. However, the holiday season has always held a lot of anxiety for me. My birthday is a couple days after Christmas, so as a child, it was over-stimulating. Then, as I got older, my birthday was often over-looked. A mixture of anxiety and disappointment during the holidays filled my childhood. Still, I didn’t have a dislike of Christmas until…
The Marine and I had been married for 3 1/2 years. Kitty was a precocious 3 year old. The Marine had just gotten out of the Marine Corps in September and hadn’t found a job yet. I was working a temp position for minimum wage that I’d just started after Thanksgiving. Truth to be told, The Marine wasn’t even looking for work, which was to be the first hint at how our marriage would go.
As Christmas was fast approaching, it became clear that there wasn’t going to be any money to buy presents for Kitty. The Marine had already blown his unemployment on games for his Playstation. I wasn’t due to get a paycheck until the first of January. So, what did we have of value? My wedding ring, a basic, 14kt 4mm milgrain band. The Marine’s Playstation, our 1985 Camry which had just had a new radiator put in by a friend, and my Western Pleasure saddle that had been an 18th birthday present from my aunt 4 years earlier, when I was leasing a horse. The car was a necessity, the ring wouldn’t hawk for more than 2% of it’s purchase price (I know because I hawked it years later) and there was no way The Marine would part with his precious Playstation. So, I took my saddle into the local tack shop and put it on consignment.
The days progressed and time marched on. My friend, Dawn, who was also our roommate brought home a snoopy style tree from her parent’s back forty. We put in in a bucket of water and used twine to hold it up in a corner. The few decorations we had were about all that poor tree could handle. But, we had a tree!
And then the day came, just 2 days before Christmas, when I got the call that my saddle had sold. The tack shop had a check for $125 waiting for me. I was excited because this meant we could get a few extra groceries, toys for Kitty and presents for each other. It was enough to have a small Christmas in 1997.
I told The Marine my saddle had sold. He was excited and happy. Dawn and I went down and picked up the check, cashed it and came home to await The Marine’s return from a friend’s house. Once he returned, we went shopping for Kitty and each other. We set a $25 budget for present(s) for each of us to get the other.
I don’t remember what I chose to give The Marine that year. But I promise it was something he wanted and something I put thought into. I do remember what he gave me that year. Two paperback novels that he, himself wanted to read. Not anything of any interest to me, just him and they totalled $11.
I was disappointed and I was extremely hurt. But, I thought maybe my birthday would be better. No such luck! The Marine got his unemployment check on my birthday. He offered to take me out to eat and we went to his favorite Chinese restaurant. I didn’t have a say. The Marine knew I didn’t like Chinese food too. And, no present. No cake. No celebration beyond the dinner I didn’t want to eat. My 22nd birthday sucked.
A whole entire holiday/birthday season ruined for me. A giant disappointment. Worse, I gave up my prized possession that carried all my hopes and dreams for him. Little did I know that this whole time period would set the tone for the rest of our marriage.
And that’s how I came to hate Christmas.
It’s taken me 11 years to figure out why. I’ve identified the problem. I’ve been working on working through my issues. I feel better about Christmas. It’s not the season I dislike, it’s truly The Marine himself that I resent.
So, for this holiday season, I am actively decorating and planning ahead instead of trying to avoid it. I won’t ever get an apology from The Marine. I won’t ever get a replacement saddle from him either. But, I can let go of some of the pain and association with the holiday season and start fresh. I think CP would like that. I think I would like that too.