Merry Christmas … but not for me

IMG_4161 2It’s one day before Christmas Eve. I’m sitting here in a nice café, which usually is the perfect place for me to get inspired. But guess what! I don’t have a single clue what to write! Looking outside everyone is in full Christmas mode, lugging around shopping bags, buying candied nuts at the Christmas market stalls, drinking mulled wine and enjoying Bratwurst, jacket potatoes and whatever delicacies of very fat food such a market has to offer.

And tomorrow Christmas Eve will be here, the evening we used to have festive family dinner, dressed nicely. And which I will spend alone again.

The way it was seems so incredibly long ago. Remembering my parents preparing everything, getting dressed up nicely, having dinner – fondue became a tradition in the later years – and after that … everyone had to leave the living room and wait until we heard the little porcelain bell announcing the “Christkind”. The magic was still there, even as an adult, as I entered the living room. The four candles on the Advent wreath and the ones on the room-high fir tree were burning, casting a warm light on all of us. My parents, my aunt, my uncle. With traditional Christmas songs playing and we couldn’t help crying to “Silent night” every time again, singing along, no matter how awful the one or other of us sounded. It didn’t matter. Having survived our emotional and melancholic few minutes, we all hugged each other, smiling and laughing, wishing each other “Merry Christmas” … before they got comfy on our living room couch and left the work of distributing the Christmas gifts piled underneath the tree to me. Since I was the youngest. (Yeah, not fair, I know!) The way I remember it, we always had fun. There might have been a little stress beforehand because according to my Mum everything had to be perfect. But apart from once in my childhood, I don’t remember a single Christmas with fights and bad moods. No matter where we were. Since we alternated celebrating in Styria and Carinthia. Even when my parents and my uncle were already sick. We still had a good time. And I think especially my Dad already knew this would be his last one.

So, for me those were MY Christmases. And the reason why I’m not celebrating anymore. At least for now. Being somewhere else, even at my sister’s … I would just be a guest. Other people’s rules, traditions and family. Not mine. Never mine. And I’m asking myself: What is Christmas? What is Christmas for me? Right now, I don’t know anymore. Because Christmas for me meant my parents, my aunt and uncle, my aunt Do and my grandmother. I never knew anything else. Until it all ended … one gone after another apart from my aunt … and I’m trying to find back to myself, to finally find someone who I can spend my life and Christmas with, with our own traditions. Combining his and mine. But until then … I just can’t. Can’t pretend. Can’t have my advent calendar. Can’t listen to traditional Christmas songs. Can’t have a tree. Because there won’t be any gifts underneath it for me anyway. So … Christmas Eve for me means being alone as usual, thinking of the past, grieving, with the only joy of keeping up the fondue tradition. I know my parents wouldn’t want that for me, they would want me to be happy, for me to think of the good times we had, to go on with my life and not live in the past, to celebrate Christmas the way we used to. But I can’t: Not yet. Not alone. And my memories are all I have left …


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