Sunday, December 14, 2014

When Home Moves Away


A few years ago, I decided for the first time not to go home for Christmas.  I made this decision after finding myself, the year before that, alone with my parents for almost a week over the Christmas holiday, without the buffer of my younger brother to help me carry the emotional load of their unique brand of loving-but-distant, present-but-unavailable. I returned home from that trip and made my closest friends SWEAR to remind me at holiday time the following year of how shitty I felt in that moment, so that I wouldn’t let my guilt land me in the exact same position again—at my parents' home, feeling unseen, alone, angry, guilty, and completely unable to do anything about it or really explain why I even felt that way.
(Sidebar: my best attempt at explaining why it's so hard for me to go home can be found here, "Home Visit", a post I wrote the next time I went home for Christmas, after my year off.  Let the record show that it was…still hard.)

So the next year, I stayed home. I spent Christmas with friends and it was great. I felt loved and happy and free to be (you and) me.  But I also felt a lot of sadness that year. I felt the irrevocable closing of the door of my childhood. I felt old. I felt that my home was gone, even as I was also walking away from it, toward the home I was creating for myself, with my chosen family. 

This year, I’m again not seeing my parents for Christmas, though not so much by choice as by circumstance. And I don’t feel so unhappy about it this year, as I’ve seen them a lot this year and will instead be spending time with my brother. I’m actually looking forward to a different kind of Christmas. The change feels good this time.

But.

This is the year that Elle is feeling her childhood door swiftly close, and it’s hard. Her parents are changing how Christmas happens, and she’s struggling with the loss of how things used to be. As I see her going through this, it hurts my heart, as I know how difficult that feeling of loss is. It’s hard when you’re just not quite ready for things to be that different—when you need one more year at your grandparents’ house, like it always was. When you didn’t know that last time was the last time. When you didn’t get to say goodbye.

But then there is the part of her, and of me, that is excited and ready to start a new tradition for the holidays, one where we’re in the same place on Christmas Day. That’s a big deal though, to want that. It feels very significant, a Moment in our relationship, which is also scary. And exciting. And scary. And as we look forward to having our version of home together, there are still the whispers of the home we can never go back to.

It’s hard when home moves away, even as a part of you is glad to see it go.