I don't need to tell you the holidays are hard.
Something about our childhood memories colliding with our adult hopes wraps us up in a strange nostalgia. We miss the past and we miss the future.
We miss those who aren't with us. We miss those who have never been
with us ~ like the cherub-cheeked children we imagined in our life.
it's not just the trying-to-conceive crowd. Plenty of people feel sick
to their stomachs for the entire month and a half between Thanksgiving
and New Year's. Plus, Christmas (as much as I love it) is about the
birth of a child.
I suspect part of the problem is
that while we are simultaneously missing the past and the future, we are
not at all celebrating life as it is right now.
refuse to let my child-free status tap the joy out of the most joyous
time of the year. I'm not saying it's easy, but choosing to have a good
time is the first step to having a good time.
So, here's my guide for how to survive.
Skip the holidays. Extreme this may be, it's a legitimate survival
approach for those suffering raw emotional wounds, like a recent
miscarriage. If 2011 delivered this kind of disappointment, I'm not
going to tell you to deck the halls and have a good time. Hunker down in
a dark room with movies and ice cream and magazines. Keep your phone
nearby and your friends on speed dial. We send our love and prayers and
hope to see you happier in the New Year.
2. Say no.
December's dance card fills up quick. It's OK to sit out a few songs.
Only go to the events you know you'll enjoy. I typically avoid large
parties with lots of guests. I say no to the big parties, so I can say
yes to the smaller gatherings with my closest friends.
Don't spend the holidays with anyone to whom you have to explain
yourself. Families are complicated, and
some families are more complicated than others. If yours has a habit of
bringing up painful topics as dinner discussions, tell them in advance
that all fertility talk is off limits. Or make alternate plans.
Know what you're going to say. Even when you are picky about which
events to go to and who to spend your time with, someone is bound to ask
you, "Do you have kids?" "Are you planning on having kids?" "Have you
thought about seeing a doctor?" "How is it going?" "Are you still
trying?' Etc. Etc. John used to joke, "We had kids, but the economy got
bad so we sold them." Or, he would say, "No, we don't have kids. We play
board games at night." At this point, I usually respond with an
abbreviated version of the truth.
5. Consider putting
"trying" on hold until the New Year. If the disappointment of not
getting pregnant is going to ruin your Christmas, I suggest giving
yourself a break from peeing on sticks.
6. Music. Maybe it's just me, but happy songs make me happy. Sad songs make me homicidal. Pump up the volume accordingly.
Create new traditions. Sleep in. Drink cocktails. Get away. Last year,
John surprised me with a night at the Fairmont right before Christmas.
He knew I had always wanted to stay there (and the rates are
surprisingly low in December). It was a great treat and something we
would be less likely to do if we had kids.
holiday cheer. Infertility is no picnic, but it could be worse. Giving
back gives me clearer perspective. Shop for charity. Volunteer at a
shelter. Collect canned food or blankets or coats or socks. Visit a
convalescent hospital or the lonely neighbor on your street. You can't
help but be happy when you make someone else happy.
If you have a holiday survival tip, I'd love to hear it.