Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. What’s not to love? A chance to decorate, good food, family being extra-nice, and all the awesomeness that comes with Advent and the birth of Christ. The whole winter holiday line-up has always thrilled me, starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day. As we’ve tried to simplify our lives in the past few years it’s been a fun challenge to condense all those good feelings into simple gifts and activities that leave us time to focus on the waiting of Advent and the celebration of the Nativity. We’ve enjoyed our simple Christmases even more.
Except last year. Last year, Christmas sucked. Royally sucked. I always put our tree up the first Saturday in December, or the last Saturday in November if it’s one of those years when December comes in on a Monday, and take it down in mid-January. Last year it was up the week before Christmas and down the following weekend. I put up almost no other decorations, and did the minimum work necessary for the whole holiday. I enjoyed gift-giving, but only because I always like that. In general, I couldn’t have cared less about Christmas and just wanted it to be over. I cried through most of the season.
Why was one of my favorite times miserable? Infertility, of course. I hate hate hate that so many areas of my life are colored by that horrible concept. As much as I have come to terms with my infertility and the likelihood that we won’t have biological children, it still tears my heart open sometimes. Here’s a little insight into why…..
In 2007, Christmas was exciting. I was going off the pill at the end of January, and we were going to start “trying” in April 2008. We were optimistic! In 2008, Christmas was full of possibilities. We had been seeing our gurus since September, and I was finally responding to Clomid. December was the first month that I ovulated well, and we were excited about the possibility that I could be pregnant in the near future. I was so excited that next year we could be either expecting a baby or celebrating our child’s first Christmas. Nothing brings home the feeling of Advent like the possibility of a child.
Fast forward through six months of failed cycles and the decision to take a “break” since we had no idea what to do next. Then that break just got longer and longer. By Christmas of 2009 I had absolutely no hope. We couldn’t figure out my fertility, we couldn’t afford to adopt, and we had nothing to show for all our time. The idea of a lifetime of childless Christmases seemed…sad. Don’t get me wrong — if you choose to remain childless for any reason, more power to you. Having children in no way defines your life or your value. It doesn’t even define your holidays. But it’s not what we want.
I had trouble finding the will to prepare for the holidays, and I skated through with as little effort and enjoyment as possible. Needless to say, it was a rough time. I cried on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and plenty of times throughout the season. I was so glad to pull that tree down and put the reminders of my failure away for another year.
This year, I’m determined it will different. This year I put our tree up at the beginning of the month, I made half the ornaments myself, and I’ve been busy for a few weeks making cookies and candy. Our gifts are bought, the wrapping paper is ready for tomorrow, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Through a dead strand of lights on the tree, a broken clay roller hindering my ornaments, and the peanut brittle that is flexible, I’m immersing myself in the holidays.
What’s different? My attitude. Granted, Brian is working about 80 hours a week this Christmas again and I’m doing it all myself, and granted we’re still childless, infertile, and undergoing treatment. But I’m okay with most of that. If we never have children and can’t adopt, at least I have a fabulous husband and a close family. Over the past year I’ve started to wrap my head around never having children. While it’s not what I want, if it’s God’s will I’ll do it. If the treatment we’re doing now works, we’ll have a baby by Christmas 2011. And if it doesn’t, at least we tried and I’ll have closure, and we can move on. Either way, this Christmas has information, hope, and possibility….for peace. I’m enjoying every minute.