I try so hard to like the Holidays. I really do. I decorate my tree, my best friend’s family tree, and my desk. I SAY I’m in the spirit. I listen to Christmas music and sing along, horribly off-key. Then Christmas day rolls around and I get that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I dutifully call all my grandparents and awkwardly, haltingly talk to them until we both hang up with sighs of relief. I head to my mom’s and deal with the tension in her house. When the day is done, I’m disappointed and relieved all at the same time. As the oldest child of four, I hope every year that the holidays will be as I envision them. They never are.

I scroll through my news feed and I see all these happy family photos. Big groups of people coming together; presents all over. I think of my stepdad holed up in the dark bedroom laying there alone, because he doesn’t want to come out and deal with my middle sister. Our hushed voices so we don’t annoy him. Sitting down to dinner and eating, and then watching a movie…not too high on the volume, and 1/3 of us falling asleep. Nobody talking and laughing. No “remember when”s.  No laughing children anywhere around happy to see their aunt. The one tiny child present doesn’t remember me. He cries when I pick him up. My youngest sister blaming me as the reason for not coming, because I’m too bossy, and showing my mom the texts and wondering what it was, exactly, that I said. Nobody present understands.

I am painfully aware of the dangers of comparing your situation to the highlights of someone else’s life on Facebook. That all isn’t as it seems in most of the posts from your friends. In the smiling pictures. But sometimes it’s just really hard. And I wonder, why can’t we fake it to make it like these people? We don’t even TRY.

So the night after Christmas,

When all through the house,

Not a creature is stirring,

I lay my head down and let myself ugly-cry into the pillow until I can’t cry anymore and I have a headache. Then I take some Advil PM, blow my nose and carry on.

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