Sunday, December 16, 2018


I saw that image somewhere and the flood of right brain color drew me right in. I have been collecting art supplies lately, but I have yet to do anything with them. My son called me yesterday to ask what I wanted for Christmas, saying he had everyone covered but me, because I hadn't given anyone any clue of what I might be wishing for. I wish for nothing but their presence, and that's the truth. But I didn't say that. I'm trying not to be the clingy mother, to breathe deep and let them live their lives. When he pressed me for an answer in his lovingly bossy way, all I could think of was art supplies. You want canvasses and an easel, he asked me. That sounds lovely, I said, thinking it might get me one step closer to actually doing something other than just looking at my growing collection of art supplies. 

I feel sad today. It's probably nothing more than the seasonal blues, and the fact that it's gray out, and raining. And I miss my kids. I've been so happy of late, puttering with my love in our empty nest, the two of us so at ease, and me in a state of wonder that I had actually arrived at this place, having come to terms with the fact of my children out in the world, away from my oversight, making all sorts of adult life changing decisions without my input. But today, I am missing them something fierce. My daughter will be away this Christmas, starting next weekend, upstate with her boyfriend's family, a rotation they decided on when he joined us for Thanksgiving this year. My son may still come over on Christmas eve and wake up under our roof on Christmas morning, but it will be the first year that it's not the four of us, and of course, it had to happen sometime. He will spend Christmas eve with his girlfriend's family in New Jersey and then come here, and quiet as it's kept, he's saving my Christmas by being here. 

I don't know how to do Christmas as an adult. They is no way to recreate the large extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins and revelry, all the generations, getting together at one house, then another then another all season long. Now we are a lonely outpost in New York City, and I just feel melancholy as Christmas approaches, even though I made a kind of peace with how different Christmas is for me now compared to how I was taught it should be during my growing up years. I chose acceptance of this a few years ago when my daughter put her hands on my shoulders and said, "Mom, this is how we do Christmas. Low key is our tradition, and I love it."

This year, it doesn't help that I am completely at a loss when it comes to gifts. I know the main gifts I'm getting my husband and kids, but I always like to wrap up other little things for them, so the base of the Christmas tree looks full, and the opening of gifts will last longer. My husband shakes his head at this. He is of the school of thought that one gift per person is enough. But I sense that even he is feeling a bit of melancholy this year. This morning he said, "We should have a standing holiday event that we invite all our friends, to." When he said it, I just felt overmatched, though I didn't let on.

We went to a tree trimming party at one of our neighbor's homes last night, a woman whose son went to school with our son from pre-K through high school. It was our fourth year going to this event, which started as a housewarming when she moved into our complex. A couple of families of the children who went to school with our children have lately moved into our complex. We meet and chat on the pathways and even sit on committees together, and the man and I always talk about inviting them over. But so far we haven't. I think I just don't have to entertaining gene that my mother so richly possessed. Oh well, enough poor me. If I started counting my blessings instead, the list would be plenty long.


  1. I certainly relate to your melancholy holiday feelings. My husband and I have no children, so none to miss, but have little family and those nowhere close in any way. Friends have their own families and traditions, we have none. Each year I think we should create our own traditions, but then I think “What would we do?” I have no ideas.

  2. I don't have the entertaining gene, either, and although I am mostly an introvert, there is a part of me that enjoys getting together with people at this time of year. Just recently I realized that I have such mixed feelings about these things, though. I would like the festive occasion without always having to be the one who does all the planning, cleaning, buying and cooking. Now I know how my mother and mother-in-law felt during my younger years. Am I being lazy? Yes :D

    Something I'm really enjoying the last few years with my craft group is our potluck suppers twice a year. Everyone does a little work, and everyone benefits. And we all have a common interest (or more than one) and it doesn't last all evening, just a couple of hours, and it's a small enough group that we can all sit around the table and get our two cents' worth in. If you find an artsy group, maybe it's something that could happen there, too.

  3. Why do we always feel as if we must apologize for being sad? We are humans and thus, sometimes we are sad and whether it's because we miss parts of our old lives or because the light is falling a certain way or because a dream triggered an unhappy emotion, we should not apologize. It's part of the tapestry of life.
    Perhaps you and your sweet, good man should try going away one Christmas. Somewhere far, far away as John Lennon said in a song. There is something so freeing about being in a place where no one expects anything at all from you, holidazy or otherwise. Just you and him. Or perhaps not. That might make you too sad.
    It works for me, though. And I think it frees my children up too, in a way. They certainly don't have to worry about US this year!
    Anyway, I love you, woman, and I hope that this sadness is merely a small squall before the clouds clear and reveal the beautiful light again.

  4. I seem to not have that entertaining gene either. When the holidays come, I am always so relieved that it's usually just Roger and me. Quiet. Not lonely. I think if I lived closer to my family I'd probably do more, but I don't. The holidays can be so challenging in so many ways.

  5. It's good to know that I'm not alone in feeling down.

    It's hard when children leave. My daughter moved to Vancouver seven years ago and she's only been home for three Christmases, including this year. I miss her so much and I try not to tell her that because my own mother was kind of clingy and I don't want that but I do want her closer. Who knows what the future will bring.

    We always have Katie on Christmas day, so there's that. We take her to West Edmonton Mall and eat at Mcdonalds because she likes that. It's a depressing place to be on Christmas day but surprisingly busy.

    I hope you have lovely, quiet day. Maybe movies?

  6. It always helps me to do what you did. To write down my thoughts about how I am feeling. To "see" on a page what I am feeling. To have some loving witnesses. Maybe that is a right brain thing. I'm sending love as you gather art supplies and feel wholeheartedly what you are feeling as the winter solstice approaches.

  7. This is a sad time of year for many and missed loved ones are often the trigger. No need to apologize. Hugs.

  8. I abandoned christmas decades ago. for one thing, while raised as a christian I rejected the theology, married a jew and raised our kids jewish and so we indulged in the competing hanukkah until they were grown. I've since abandoned that theology as well. the family holiday for us is Thanksgiving. if I celebrated anything at this time of year it would be the solstice but not only do I also not have the entertaining gene, I don't have the celebrating gene. quiet recognition of the day is enough for me. but I do love to see the outdoor lights people put up for their celebration of christmas. as for the art supplies, good for you. now use them. don't be shy about it.

  9. How you feel is understandable to me, even maybe inevitable. One reason (of many) that I enjoy reading your blog is the family interaction you have. I don't have that, never had, but this is not about envy; I've had a good life -- but when I read about the love and joy you've shared not just with your immediate family, but with so many relatives, I think, "If I had a big family, that's what I'd want." It seems so sustaining -- it really is an extra level of life. (I'm sure you all have your disagreements and other hiccups, but it's always seemed like your family, from the Caribbean to NYC, has had a fundamental connection that included a lot of joy.)

    Well, so, anyhow, as your kids have grown and things are changing, OF COURSE it's going to generate some melancholy. At least, that's how it seems to me. Would be strange if it didn't. Wishing you further growth, more joy. Mary

  10. I love Mary's comment. I've felt paralyzed of late on my blog -- unwilling and loathe to write of my sadness. Perhaps because I am tired of my sadness, tired of writing it. Other people's sadness, though, is infinitely interesting to me and when it's felt by someone I love, my heart feels a bit more open.

  11. I'm sure the kids' expanding lives means a big adjustment for you -- a HUGE adjustment. How could it not be? As others have said above, this time of year often brings out sadness for times past and people lost. But you still have your children, of course, even if they're not with you at that moment, and I hope you enjoy the day. (I tend to think like your husband -- one gift per person and keep it simple!) Love the brain art!