Posted December 07, 2010 by
Now that the tree is decorated and the Christmas cards have been ordered we don't have much else to do this holiday season besides go to a few parties and cross a some gifts off our list. This is my 4th Christmas season with Greg and each year it feels even more complete.
The year before I met Greg was my worst Christmas ever. I was living in Los Angeles and recently out of a relationship. Both of my parents were long-gone. It was the first year in my entire life that I didn't put up a Christmas tree. It was the year I just wanted to forget about the holidays.
I remember leaving work on the day before Christmas Eve. All my co-workers were in a festive mood, skipping off to enjoy the long weekend with their families. I walked slowly to my car in the parking garage and climbed in, pulling the door shut behind me. I remember sitting in their in the silent air, feeling so completely unattached.
Later that afternoon I sat in my car again, this time in the parking lot of the grocery store. I was near the marina and I could hear the sailing masts clinking in the wind. It was one of those bright, balmy days particular to Southern California, and I'll never forget how empty I felt. How pointless my existence seemed.
I was no one's most important person.
I spent Christmas Eve in a Oaxacan restaurant with my Jewish friend Paul, and later that night I took a hot bath and then climbed alone into my bed and went to sleep in my little apartment by the Pacific Ocean. On Christmas morning I woke up early and went for a long, solitary run by the beach.
There were small, crisp moments in which I was able to appreciate being alone, but I couldn't shake the pervading feeling of worthlessness. I joined a friend's family later that afternoon and drank too much and when I went to bed that night I was never so grateful to have a Christmas behind me.
And when I went to bed that night, tears slipping down my cheeks, I promised myself that it wouldn't always be this way. I knew that it wouldn't always be this way.
By the next Christmas I was in Chicago and Greg and I were getting our first tree together. We put it up in my old apartment in Lincoln Park and I put on holiday music and we drank prosecco and ate Cotswold cheddar and crackers. We were young and both still living apart, but we knew we'd get married one day soon. I took this picture that night with my phone.
By the Christmas after that we were married and I was pregnant. Obama had just been elected president and we were living in the home we're in now, on the edge of the Chicago River. That year we both had decidedly more hair.
Last year was our first Christmas with Veronica. She had just learned to crawl and we were six months into being parents. Six months into being a threesome. Six months into being the opposite of lonely.
And this year. This is the year that I'm too busy and too happy to really remember what it felt like to be so lonely all those years ago. I've got work and writing deadlines, presents to wrap and playdates to make. I've got nap schedules to contend with and holiday cards to address. I have the exact opposite of what I had that last Christmas in Los Angeles.
A beautiful, busy family all my own.