Christmas without kids: fantasy vs. reality

I was blow-drying my hair this morning when my mind conjured up a fantasy: My doorbell rings. I open the door to my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren saying, “Hi, Mom” and “Merry Christmas, Grandma.” Their arms are full of gifts and contributions to the dinner I will be serving at my dining room table on the good china. I can smell the turkey baking, the meat and butter mingling with sage and rosemary. The Christmas tree lights glow red, green, yellow and blue, and Bing Crosby sings “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” on the stereo. Soon my son will arrive with his kids.
Nice, huh? Oh well. I had a taste of this when my husband was alive, and we still lived close to his kids. Of course, we had to share the kids and grandkids with Fred’s ex-wife, but it was something. Now it’s just me and my dog Annie. Nobody is coming.
Am I trying to make you all feel bad? No. I’m saying we all have fantasies, fed by what we see other people doing as well as what we see on TV. And yes, it’s hard to be alone. It hurts to see everybody else with their children and know we might never have any of our own. It takes a major act of will to set those aside and enjoy the holidays that we have, however we celebrate them. But we can do it.
I got a major wake-up call this last week after several days of moping. I wrote about it at my Unleashed in Oregon blog, which begins:
“I was going to write a whiny post about not having any Christmas presents. It would start, “The only gifts for me under my Christmas tree are the ones I bought and wrapped for myself.” I would explain that the main gift-givers in my family have all died, my remaining family lives far away, I have no kids, the younger folks in my family don’t seem moved to send presents to good old Aunt Sue, my friends are all traveling this Christmas, etc. Woe is me. While that’s all true, I have realized I’m an idiot.” [click here to read the rest]
The idea is that I don’t have the traditional Christmas, but I do have a LOT to be thankful for, so I need to quit whining and enjoy what I have.
A Facebook friend suggested something we can do for the new year. Find a big jar. Decorate it if you want to. Every day write on a slip of paper something good that happened that day and put it in the jar. When you’re feeling bad, you can go back to that jar and remember the things that made you happy. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shaking, maybe just something that you made you smile, a hug, a cookie, a joke, a special moment, a new pair of shoes, the moon, a walk on the beach, a cuddle with the dog . . . I’m going to do it. Will you join me?
This Christmas, I wish you all a holiday full of peace, love, and acceptance. I love you all for sticking with me here at Childless by Marriage and look forward to visiting with you in 2015 (next week!).
How are you doing this holiday? Please share in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Christmas without kids: fantasy vs. reality

  1. The holidays are never easy for me. I am an only child coming from a mother who is an only child and a father whose entire family lives abroad. Needless to say, I often found myself at the Thanksgiving table of neighbors or friends, people that didn't want my family to be alone during the holidays. Now I am part of a “family,” my boyfriend and his three teens. We had a blended family holiday this year, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. However, at the end of the day after everyone had left, I felt a pang of hurt that only I could feel as I reflected on the void my childlessness has left me. There is no doubt about it. The holidays can be a challenge.


  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Sue. I relate to you. I have very specific fantasies about the children I would love to accumulate. They are drama-filled, love stories with the makings of a Lifetime movie. I keep them to myself and indulge myself when I feel the need. I don't allow it too often because one should live in reality, shouldn't they?In fact, lately I'm more aware of the movies I watch, the books I escape into. I've always considered these to be hobbies, things to do, fun entertainment. But I'm starting to feel like these are just a way to avoid the things that make me sad. It's my goal to “get out there” more. Experience people, events, and not just re-live a fictitious Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan saga. My husband and I decided to tackle the kitchen cabinets. We began with good humor, determined to purge and reorganize without arguing too much. Day one went great. The next morning we were finishing up when we got the call that a family member just had her baby. We had been arguing about stuff because we were both anxious to get the task at hand over with. We received the call and continued on without much discussion. Then I cried and said that I didn't care where the hell he put the cereal or the four different kinds of rice. I let him finish up the kitchen while I cleaned the bathroom. Neither of us finished our jobs properly and the house is still in a state of disarray. We don't care.At 40, I know the game isn't totally over. I could still conceive. Adoption is not out of the question. But our debt, our crumbling house, and busy careers don't give us much hope that a family will materialize anytime soon. Why is it so easy for some people to just get married and start a family while we struggle so much?2015 will be about getting our lives on track with the hopes of a family at the end of it all. Or peace without a family. Today I'm still in my funk and I really don't want to greet the new year with this attitude.I hope you have a fun New Year’s, Sue. And a bright shining 2015.Anon S


  3. Dear Anon S, If it makes you feel any better, I'm spending the New Year's holiday on crutches and alone with a sprained ankle. I'm not worrying about kids; I'm wondering how the heck I'm going to carry a glass of water from the sink to where I'm sitting with my foot up. But enough about me. I'm sorry your project turned sour. I know it's hard, plus men can't deal with tears. Yes, make 2015 the year you figure it out. Have that baby, and finances, etc. be damned, or settle into the family you have.Why is it so easy for others? I don't know, but sometimes those perfect situations don't last, so as the song goes, love the one you're with. I hope you have a bright shining 2015, too. Odd-numbered years are usually good for me. Maybe for you too. God bless.


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