It’s that time of year again. Though I love the holidays and will always try to concentrate on the positive, I’m dreading the emotional roller coaster as well.
You see, November 10th is my daughter’s birthday. As much as I adore Halloween, I dread celebrating it as well because it’s pretty close to that day. Fortunately this year, Nick and I are scheduled for a visit on the 17th, so perhaps the anticipation of seeing our daughter and her parents will lessen the anxiety and grief surrounding her actual birthday. I’ve already planned to ask for her birthday off work so I don’t have to interact with coworkers and strangers all day and act happy. I might be okay on the actual day and I might not. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be an emotional roller coaster of a day, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t be either.
After Mack’s birthday passes, there’s the whirlwind surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course because those two holidays in particular are associated with family and I’m missing such a big piece of mine, it makes them difficult. I’m planning lots of baking and making crafts for various people, including making my BirthMom Buds Secret Sister Stocking. I’m also participating in an ornament exchange as well as making an extra ornament for a charity event, and making ornaments for our own tree. I’m hoping that the fact that I’m keeping myself busy for the holidays will mean I don’t have a lot of time to sit around and wonder what might have been. I also hope that the extra arts and crafts that I’m making will keep me distracted when I’m not participating directly in an event.
It’s interesting to me that while I don’t deny any grief I might feel during the rest of the year, when it comes to the holidays I prepare to live in denial for a few months. Based on my experiences the past two holidays I’m not certain this additional preparation is actually doing me any good. I preach all the time that there’s no way that someone who’s gone through the experience of becoming a birth parent as I have can ever go back to being the person they were before relinquishment. We can and should find a new normal but we cannot approach things the same. I don’t honestly know if this means I should expect to not enjoy the holidays or if I’ll just feel an emptiness that wasn’t there before.
Maybe that’s it. There’s a part of me that’s expecting the holidays to feel exactly the same and another part of me that knows it’s not possible. Then there’s yet another part that’s afraid to let go of the way the holidays used to be because I know that I still want to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m afraid that if I let go of the way that I used to enjoy the holidays that I will never enjoy them again instead of simply finding new ways to enjoy them.
I already find ways to include my daughter in my celebrations like making her an ornament to go on my tree and also lighting candles for her as well. The joy usually associated with inclusion in those holiday traditions is the missing piece. I’m hoping that joy will come with time. If I force the joy then I will never have the true joy that inclusion should bring.