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COMMENTARY: “So This Is Christmas”

So this is Christmas
And what have you done

The words to this John Lennon song, "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," have kept repeating over and over in my head the past few weeks. I just keep thinking: “And just what have I done?”

I’m not a big fan of the holiday season. I’m not a cynic. I just find it all overwhelming. I find buying presents for people because I have to and not because I want to, irritating. Spending time with family can be quite joyful, but it can also be stressful and wrought with emotions – good and bad.
We seldom take the time to enjoy all the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas because we are far too busy stressing out about things that don’t really matter. I sometimes wonder what the point of the whole thing is.

This will be my first Christmas without my parents, and I find myself looking at old pictures, doing something I rarely do – reflecting … I don’t like to look back – I know I must for how can one go forward without knowing where they came from – I just am not a fan of reflecting. It tends to depress me. But, I’ve been looking at pictures, which are conjuring up all sorts of memories, good, bad and indifferent.

Thoughts of Christmas Past bring to the surface all sorts of emotional baggage for me. Aunts, uncles, cousins who used to be the most important people in my life are mostly gone, or no longer speak to me, and those sweet wonderful family Christmas parties in the basement of my Aunt Jean’s house with all the food and each of us taking a turn turning the crank on the homemade ice cream barrel, are nothing more than memories of days gone by when family really was – well – family.

I carried that family baggage with me my entire life along with the homosexual baggage. They seemed to be all packed in the same bags, along with guilt and shame. You know what I’m talking about. The whole bringing shame on the family, having your church you grew up in let you know you aren’t worthy, friends and family turning their backs on you. That baggage …

When I went home last month to bury my mother, I finally unpacked that baggage. As I was driving though the little town I grew up in and driving by the houses I lived in -- I understood that I didn’t have baggage – what I had was history. All of those people, all of those feelings, they are a part of who I was – a part of who I am – it’s my history. It doesn’t weigh me down anymore, it spurs me on, and it lifts me to greater things. I can’t change my past, and I can’t control how people feel or what they believe. The only thing I have control of – is me, and I won’t hide who I am for anyone anymore. I won’t flaunt it in their face, but I also won’t deny who I am for one more moment of my life.

So, I suppose that’s what I’ve done … I’ve unpacked my bags and put a big Christmas bow on my history. I wish the same for each and every one of you. Be kind to yourself, know you are worthy of love and respect, and don’t pack guilt or shame or any sort of self-loathing in a bag. It’s not baggage – it’s your history – it’s your life. Walk proud.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
without any fear

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.