What I wanted for Christmas in the past was my own home, with my own tree, and my own children. I wanted my spouse. I wanted our life and traditions together. But like many, the American Dream of hearth and home passed me by. I never married therefore never divorced but had 15 years solid of long-term relationships before 10 years of single life. I spent many years single at Christmas.
And what I wanted for Christmas as a single professional was time off. Real time off and peace. To get away from the daily grind and get some real writing done. I wanted resolution of personal tragedy, release from all the hangs on and drags on, from regret. I wanted a solid plan for the challenges of the coming new year. What is Christmas about if not hope in the midst of darkest night?
But what do I want for Christmas when ‘I’ becomes ‘Us’?
I am no longer single. It’s not a secret but it’s not common knowledge, for reasons. We are six months into our romance and all is well. I dearly miss the anonymity of summer because he is a pillar of the Twin Cities arts community and he knows a lot of people. Allowing the tender buds of our early romance to blossom without scrutiny was important. Those who didn’t know I was coupled until now, will want to know the who, how, and when- but that’s for another time.
Please just wish us well.
Being single is fine when you want to be single. All those years of being single at Christmas were fun and I learned a lot about myself. I had reason to be grateful for it. It was good to connect with my nieces and nephews before they were out in the world with lives and partners and jobs of their own. I do not regret all the time I got to spend with them, talking to them about their young lives, sharing laughter and sorrow.
My mom has terminal cancer now. These may be the last months of her life. Not having a partner all these years meant mom and I were able to have quality time together. I could help her as Christmas became more and more of a strain due to age and malady. I have treasured memories of our annual movie expeditions, tours of the Festival of Lights, and a few local breweries.
Many people have wished for me to find love. And it’s not that I didn’t try. The holiday songs I most identified with are ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell and ‘Same Old Lang Syne’ by Dan Fogelberg which are both heart break and regret songs. I also related to ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ by the Carpenters– as hope, as a wish for future days. Because I knew someone was looking and wishing for me as much as I was looking and wishing for them.
During the quiet moments at mom’s old house with the tree in the living room and the view of the Illinois river, I would feel that old familiar longing, waiting and wishing for my life to happen and not knowing how. I think it’s a common feeling for country kids. I wanted to be sitting with my love, drinking wine, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. I wanted to read poems to each other and watch the snow fall.
After the fire took the old house, I would stay in a hotel for some peace and quiet, to try to have a little break in an otherwise busy holiday vacation. And this is the first year I am staying at my sister’s house. No more dealing with rowdy hotel guests or neglectful housekeeping. She decorates it beautifully, like Christmas in a magazine. It has become the place for our family to gather, a replacement for mom’s old house. We will attend the Christmas Eve concert and mass tonight at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, come back for a little wine, celebrate with gifts in the morning, and dinner Christmas night.
And I will still long to be with my love. I am in Peoria and he is in Minneapolis.
We can’t be together our first Christmas, for reasons. It is by my choice. I want to spend my usual 10 days at home and that is too many for him to be away, though he offered. I am here to help mom and help set-up the celebration in whatever capacity I can. His relationship to my family is new enough that there will be a desire to visit, get to know each other, and have ‘good times’- not sweep the floor or talk about incoming new year challenges. Both are important but being solo helps me to be present for my family. And between Christmas and New Year’s, he will fly into Chicago and make his way to Peoria for some yuletide cheer before accompanying me back on the drive home to Minneapolis. He’s a pretty decent boyfriend.
And all I want for Christmas is you, Loren…
Happy Holidays everyone!
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, December 2019