We just rang in the new year, and for the second consecutive year, I didn’t have any decorations up in my home, except for one lone rhinestone Noel sign that I found on clearance a few weeks ago.
Which, in case you have never seen the inside of my house in December, is a really big deal. Actually, assuming you HAVEN’T seen my house in December, here is an idea of the level of obnoxious Christmas decorating that happens:
It’s bright, it’s tacky, it’s full of Christmas spirit. I love my pink Christmas tree more than pretty much any other decoration I own, which is an impressive distinction to hold, considering I have a 3 foot dancing snowman that sings “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus” and twirls a real live lasso – don’t question it, just trust me – it’s awesome.
But both of them sit in my storage unit along with the rest of my equally ostentatious Christmas decor, boxed up and probably feeling slightly forgotten.
I have lived in a lot of different places over the last 10 years, but I always decorate for Christmas – it’s one of my very favorite times of year. Last year was the first year that I didn’t unpack all my boxes and turn my tiny living room into my version of a winter wonderland.
We spent Christmas in Paris, so while I didn’t get my fill of decorations at home, Paris was like one big Christmas display on steroids. I was in heaven; Gil literally could not care less. He let me drag him through Christmas markets and waited while I ogled their legendary window displays, but I definitely had to be careful about overdoing it on Christmas cheer, since that is so not his thing.
I had a really valid excuse not to bother decorating last year, but I think it might have set off a bit of a pattern.
This year, I used the same excuse in another form – my parents and I went to Turks and Caicos for Christmas (rough life, I know), and once again it seemed like a lot of work to put it all together when I was going to be spending Christmas on a beach surrounded by palm trees instead of pine trees. Especially since Gil would prefer no decorations, and he was the one who was going to be in the condo for Christmas, not me.
But really, it’s not like I need to have an excuse not to decorate – the only one I could possibly be letting down by not decorating would be me. I have lived alone most of my adult life, and the lengths I went to in transforming my various apartments over the years was purely for my own enjoyment. That, and I like to entertain, so it was always fun to show it off when I had people over.
But something has shifted, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. This year in particular, I just never seemed to get into the Christmas spirit. Normally, I legitimately feel like this is the most magical time of the year, but this year I couldn’t seem to capture those feelings. Maybe it’s just because I was travelling at Christmas again, or maybe part of it is because I live with someone who legitimately hates Christmas and it’s starting to impact how I feel about the holiday season. Gil CAN’T STAND anything Christmas related, which if I’m being totally honest with myself, kind of breaks my heart a little.
He tolerated the bedazzled Christmas explosion that happened in my condo the first year we lived together, mostly I think because he had only moved in a few months before, and was still in that “I’m not going to say anything that could fuck this up” phase. Years later, he is much more comfortable, and much more… vocal.
I get it – he was raised Jehovah’s Witness, so growing up his family never celebrated Christmas. He didn’t have the same experience I did as a child – the excitement of Christmas morning, the anticipation leading up to Christmas Day, and how hard it was to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. His family had other traditions, but none of them had anything to do with Christmas itself. So as an adult, Gil just has no connection to Christmas and finds any kind of Christmas decoration, or music, or movie, to be unbearable.
And it has nothing to do with current religious affiliation – Gil is not religious in any way so is free to celebrate whatever he chooses. He just abhors traditional Christmas celebrations.
As I feel my own Christmas spirit slipping away this year, I’m realizing that I am struggling a bit with our polar opposite positions on the holiday. He certainly doesn’t have to participate in Christmas in any way, and it would be unfair of me to expect him to. It would be about as fair as him expecting me to listen to death metal because it’s something he loves.
But we are going to have to come up with some sort of compromise on his level of Grinch, because I refuse to lose all my December magic.
The reality is, it’s just going to be me and him for the long haul. Since I lost my brother and I don’t have any other siblings, it’s just me and my parents. No grandparents, no local extended family. And now that I’m with Gil, he is my family.
Part of starting your own family is creating new traditions together. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to. And since we never (ever) want kids, our “family” is me and Gil, on our own. Not being able to create those traditions together is essentially a loss I have to mourn. I mean, he’s not a monster – OF COURSE he comes to my parents’ house on holidays when I ask him to, and he would never ask me not to put up decorations, but I know he’s really just tolerating those things for me, not actually enjoying them.
I know there are going to be countless traditions we build for ourselves, especially once we make the move to Colorado and hopefully buy our first home together. There will be many firsts, and a lot of memories to make. But sharing in the joy and excitement of Christmas is just never going to be one of them.
I am going to have to find a way to rediscover my own Christmas spirit and enjoy it myself, alongside a partner who does love me unconditionally, even if he will never, ever, ever, let me blast Christmas music through our house and help me decorate my very pink tree.