Not So Happy Holidays ~ Ethan Stone: Outside the Margins

Join us as Ethan Stone goes Outside the Margins.

Not So Happy Holidays

Ethan Stone OtMI can admit it. I’ve become The Grinch. I just don’t truly enjoy this time of year. The crowds, the materialism, all the freaking yard decorations. Christmas time used to be one of my favorite times of the year, not just when I was a kid but even as I got older and had my own young ‘uns.

It was my mom’s favorite time of the year. She always went all out. Huge tree covered in ornaments. Holiday decorations on the walls, lights outside. You name it. And in my own household it was the same. I have dozens of pieces of a Christmas village: houses, churches, shops and more. As soon as Thanksgiving was over I was putting the city up on various surfaces such as bookshelves, mantels and one year I took over our dining table.

Then six years ago my mother passed suddenly. She had been in pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia but those don’t cause death so it wasn’t a possibility in my head. Her death shocked the entire family and changed us forever. She provided the connection between me, my dad and two brothers because none of us have ever liked talking on the phone. Now all of that was gone.

Every year, the spirit of the entire holiday season is dampened by my mother’s absence. In October I’m reminded of her death, in November I remember her birthday, and in December all I can think about is how it was her favorite holiday. It’s tough to enjoy the holidays when I’m thinking about the woman I loved so much.

Then things got even harder November of 2013. My brother, who was only three years older than me, died unexpectedly. In a weird coincidence my brother’s birthday was in October and, like I mentioned earlier, my mother’s birthday was in November. It added even more grief to a time of year that was already incredibly hard to get through.

Last year there wasn’t a Christmas tree in the house. My son was at his mother’s and on the day after Christmas my dad took off on his annual three month trip in his RV. I just didn’t see a reason to decorate, plus I sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. I was still deeply mourning my brother and it was hard to get up every morning.

This year I vowed things would be different. My brother hadn’t been into the holidays at all, but I didn’t want be the Scrooge he was. Or the Grinch I’ve been transforming into. As much as I love the smell of a real tree, I can’t stand the clean up so I crawled up into my dad’s attic and pulled down the fake one as well as all the ornaments and decorations.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the flood of emotions that would go with looking at the stuff my mother had adored so much. After I put the lights on but before the ornaments went on I realized it was the first time since her death that the décor had come out. Each item brought on memories. The Hallmark ornaments she enjoyed buying each year. The stuff my brothers and I had made as children. The Nativity scene she had put out every year. So. Many. Memories.

Though I couldn’t quite go all out like she had done, I did finish decorating the tree and set up a few of her favorite snowmen on the mantel between the urns of her and my brother. The Nativity stayed packed away. Her collection of Hallmark rocking horse ornaments did too. Maybe next year.

I love you, Mom. I love you, Kevin. Miss you both so much.

~ Ethan Stone

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5 thoughts on “Not So Happy Holidays ~ Ethan Stone: Outside the Margins

  1. That was absolutely lovely. I helped decorate the tree as a child, then took over decorating it completely at the age of 12. And when I moved into an apartment 14 years ago, my folks gave me the tree. It was Sears tree that had been around just about as long as I had. Sadly, I misplaced an integral part of it 3 years ago and had to find a new one. I agonized for four days during which I went to every store in the area before finding one I liked.

    My husband used to enjoy coming home and “helping” decorate it right after Thanksgiving. It’s important to point out that his idea of “helping” was to stand there and point where each decoration should go. I have since gone back to putting the tree up myself and decorating it BEFORE he gets home. That way he can stand there for hours–as he does–looking at where each ornament has been placed.

    And the decorations themselves? They span 4 decades and get added to a little each year.

  2. Hey Ethan. Thanks for sharing this part of you. I’ve been sitting here staring at the cursor, thinking of what to say. This time of year can be so difficult and is often made so by those same awesome memories that make us sad. A kind of wild mix, for sure.

    My mom passed away unexpectedly this past January. This will be the first Christmas without her. Thanksgiving was difficult enough. What will Christmas be like, I keep wondering.

    Like you, there are countless memories related to Christmas and family and childhood and so many fun outings and stockings getting emptied and meals shared. Gonna make it through, of course, have to.

    Sending good vibes to you and your family.

  3. I never do much for Christmas. Put up lights, and that’s about it. I am far away from any family and after moving last year, I’m also away from friends. I’d just as soon travel on the holidays and share in the joy of others during the season.

  4. Ethan, I have been the same way, but it started even before my mom passed away, also 7 years ago. I’m not sure why, but I think it was mainly because all of my kids were grown or almost grown. But, my daughter insisted on a tree, so one went up every year.
    Then mama died and it got even worse for me, not wanting to deal with the tree or decorations. The handmade decorations that she made from the time I was around 7/8 years old. I just didn’t want it, but still, as long as my daughter was home, a tree went up. The last one we had was one that was prelit, so no dealing with lights and only a few of the decorations were put on it.
    Then, two and a half years ago, as many of you know, our house caught on fire and pretty much everything was lost, including all of mama’s ornaments. What few that didn’t burn or melt, were too smoke or water damaged to be saved. Thankfully, there was one that sort of made it through. It was one she made using a picture of me when I was young, with my hair up in what we used to call dog ears, lol. The picture is pretty much ruined, but the ball itself is in decent condition. And this year, after two Christmases without the first light or anything else up, I decided to carry on mama’s tradition of making Christmas ornaments with pictures.
    I was finally able to find most of the beads she used or at least something similar. I found some solid half balls made out of hard styrofoam and I proceeded to make each one of my grandkids a Christmas ornament. Also made my grandson’s, Ethan, sister one as well. My fingers are sore as hell, but it was worth it, they all came out great.
    I still don’t want a tree or anything else up, at least not while we’re in this travel trailer. But maybe next year I’ll get a small, tabletop tree, since I’m hoping to be living in something a little bigger by then, right now we barely have room to turn around in.
    But maybe I’m giving up my role as a Grinch (Randy calls me that) too, I guess it’s time. Although my problem has never been with giving way more than I receive, sometimes going overboard with it, it’s just that holidays usually finds me grouchy as hell, even more than usual, lol.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us, I’ll post pictures of those ornaments on your Facebook post. Big Hugs to you Ethan, can’t wait to see you again next October!

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