I remember when I loved Christmas and New Years. Before my mother got sick.

We try to pretend we’re a normal family at Christmas still. It doesn’t work.

Christmas planning used to be fun, if a little stressful. What new recipes should we try? What old favorites do we include? Which uncle will fail to RSVP and show up half way through dinner?

Maybe we weren’t going to be a TV family any time soon, but we had our moments. Christmas was about the little kids.

We try to pretend my mother’s illness doesn’t overshadow everything. We’re not kidding anyone.

The layers of planning for a holiday dinner are astronomical. Either we change all the recipes to things that are safe for her to eat, or we make two versions of everything. Every sentence is interrupted by the beeping and whirring of machines — or something she needs.

Every moment of every day is modified by her illness. Normally it doesn’t bother me. This is our life, this is our normal.

But there’s something about the holidays that really gets me down.

I’m no longer excited to stay up late to watch the ball drop. I just want to go to bed.

Normally I don’t feel like I’m missing out. My friends lead their own lives, I don’t need my life to be like theirs.

But at Christmas everyone else is sitting around opening gifts, spoiling the little kids, being an ideal of a family. On New Years we’re all looking forward to a brighter, better future.

And we can’t do that.

I wish we could do that.

J. Coleman

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