Happiest Christmas

It is no secret that I dislike the holidays.  That has been made clear throughout the years.  The anticipation, the gift giving, the heavy and overwhelming holiday foods–all too much for me.

My friends with whom I’d planned to celebrate Christmas told me right before the holidays that they were going to celebrate at another friend’s house, in Connecticut.

“I can’t go,” I said, “Too triggery.  Too much.  Too soon.”

“It’s not even Darien,” they protested, “It’s Norwalk.  It’s not the same.”

There was a part of me that wanted to laugh when they said that–only half joking.  And there was a part of me that felt so…lonely…suddenly grasping the fundamental disconnect between my single friends, my married friends, and me.

Christmas after Christmas in Connecticut–some white, most green–with the heavy anticipation of being an outsider on the inside of a family that never seemed to want me there in the first place.  Drinking vermouthy martinis and wondering when the twice-baked ham would be served.  Agonizing over the seating arrangements.

Bless their hearts and mine, we all tried to get along.  But it never worked, was never right, never felt to me like it was the thing they or I wanted it to be.

Stamford, Darien, Norwalk, Westport…doesn’t matter.  There was no way in hell I was going to Connecticut for Christmas.

I skipped the country instead; last minute tickets to parts warmer and sunnier.  There, I met up with friends separated from their own families all over the world.

It was decided that, on Christmas Day, we’d go to a camp for adults and children living with AIDS/HIV; people who were unable to be medication compliant or to fully care for themselves.  The camp was unfunded by the government and existed on donations–a tall order in what is basically a developing country.

So we went, armed with donations, gifts, chocolates.

How does one put into words, really, what it is like to hug and hold the children whose families and communities have rejected them?  Who bypass the gifts that have been brought and instead, stretch their arms up for hugs and to be held?

There are no words.

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