It started around Thanksgiving. That had always been the holiday we spent at his house. My family is five hours away while his was two, so it made more sense to do Turkey Day at his, Christmas at mine. Thanksgiving has never been a particular favorite of mine; Halloween is a hard act to follow and Christmas with all of its sparkling consumerist trappings has mostly engulfed it. But despite my generally Grinchy approach to the holidays, every year I started to look forward to dinner with his parents, especially his mom’s sweet potatoes. The first year, obviously, was the hardest, with Thanksgiving coming only a few weeks after everything ended; the year after that was less pointed but I still felt a dull thud in my chest whenever I thought about Thanksgiving and sweet potatoes and holiday celebrations.
This year, I didn’t even notice. I made plans to spend the day with a friend and her mother, eating turkey and potatoes and green bean casserole and a plethora of desserts (our shared sweet tooth is just one of the reasons we’re friends) before giving in to the dark side and joining in on some “Gray Thursday” bargain hunting. I hit several stores that night but it wasn’t until I was in Target and saw a display of nutcrackers that I realized that I hadn’t even thought about my ex and his family at all this season.
His mother collects nutcrackers. Every year, I made it a point to find a nutcracker that I thought was unique or creative or funny to give to her. The search was part of the fun, and it was very much a part of the holidays. It was a small way to bond with a woman who was often in a tough position: although she and her husband both have had some struggles with their son’s sexuality, she put her family first. She loved her son, and if her son loved me then she would love me too. When her son stopped loving me…well, that’s the kind of situation that leads sentimental sops like me to write blog posts about holiday décor.
I never really found any sort of closure with my ex (we still haven’t spoken since the night he announced that he needed time to think and disappeared from my life permanently) but that doesn’t mean I haven’t found it at all. I’ve written and processed and pondered and ranted all of the feels I needed to feel; I forgave what I could and made peace with the rest. I realized that we were two people who weren’t very good at making each other feel happy or fulfilled and eventually we gave up trying. We probably shouldn’t have stayed together as long as we did, and we probably shouldn’t have gotten married, but we did and there’s nothing to be gained by regretting anything. Whatever closure I needed, I gave to myself.
What was left over was this feeling that I never really got to have any closure with his mother. His father was always polite to my face, but if he was alone with his son it was another story: I always heard stories about how his dad would talk about me as a corrupting influence, leading him away from what is good and holy and all of that kind of claptrap, and he was encouraged to find God – and a good woman to settle down with (apparently a gigantic drag queen wasn’t close enough). But his mother was genuinely nice to me, no matter how much her husband might not approve and I never had the chance to say how much I appreciated it. I remember one time we were camping and a neighbor came over to the campsite and she said, “Have you met my sons? This is C and this is his partner.” It meant a lot to hear that, and I know it took a lot of growth for her to be able to say that.
Once things were over, it felt weird to stay in contact. One of the ground rules of breakups is that moms are (or should) be on your side while you’re going through it – doesn’t matter what happened or who did what. That’s what moms do. I mean, it’s not like my mom was baking him birthday cakes or sending him Arbor Day cards after we broke up. She was commiserating with me and being encouraging and worrying and taking me shopping and doing all of those things that mothers do when their kids go through painful stuff and there isn’t anything they can do about it. I understood. So every year I would look over displays of nutcrackers and feel a little sad, thinking about which one I would have picked out for that year’s gift.
This year, there was a snow queen nutcracker with long flowy hair and a snowflake tiara. She had a long white cape made of some kind of super soft white faux fur, and little blue rhinestone accents. She also had a long staff or scepter with a snowflake and rhinestones, matching the crown. She was such a queen! I thought, “That’s definitely the one.”
And so I bought it. When I set up my tree and strung some lights through the windows of my sun porch, I added the nutcracker to my minimal holiday display (I’m finally getting over the trauma of working retail for so many Christmases, but I’m still not going overboard!). And now every year when I get out the decorations, that nutcracker will be a little piece of my holidays. I don’t think I’ll start collecting them; they aren’t really my style, and I still think of them as gifts more than anything. But it’s nice to have it as a way of remembering and honoring that part of my life, and recognizing that it’s all completely behind me. It’s a symbol of the last piece of closure I didn’t even know I was looking for.
Tags: Break Up, Breakup, Champagne Dreams Productions, christmas, divorce, Family Relationships, holiday, Holiday Decorating, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Merry Christmas, Miss Jaye, Nut Cracker, Nutcracker, World of Champagne