December is the month of holidays, amongst other things. It’s also the month my fellow Hippo dislikest the most, because of all the social obligations. And it’s the month in which I used to have to nag my mother to set up the Christmas tree (and if I could decorate it). Now she has some decorations that take less work (and less space), but do look nice.
For a couple years I haven’t been living fulltime with my parents (I regularly stay overnight in the weekends). I’ve lived in a few group homes, for physcially disabled people and many years ago I’ve even been in a psychiatric hospital. Sometimes the therapy groups would do stuff around December too. Usually for the Dutch holiday ‘Sinterklaas’ we had to give ach other gifts and make poems and have such a great time eating together. I never liked those moments. It made me feel even more alone than usual. It was fake, since I’ve never felt comfortable at those groups or was actually welcome there, I was always this ‘outsider’ for people. However, I do like celebrating ‘Sinterklaas’ with people I like. I don’t have a big family and for a long time it wouldn’t go well, but now the last couple years (especially since my fellow Hippo is a part of my family) it’s going a lot better. So we can actually enjoy spending time together and I like that. I also like to have a gift you know they’ll be really happy about. I don’t mind that my brother forgot to but a gift too and that I don’t like the T-shirt they gave me. I’ll wear it anyways, because that makes them happy and I appreciate it that they tried to find something for me. And this one isn’t that bad either.
I thought I always was a bit ‘anti-social’ (not on purpose), but my fellow Hippo really hates it. He doesn’t want to celebrate anything, if it’s something you ‘normally do’. Such as celebrating your birthday, spending Christmas together. We both aren’t really capable of giving a lot of parties, but he might do that sometime, but not if it’s for something. Because then you’re socially obligated.
I understand where that’s coming from. He was always forced – even though he wasn’t physically able – to celebrate all these kinds of things in ways he didn’t want or could do, because of his ‘family’, mainly his ‘mom’. Now, he hasn’t have contact with them for a long time (they don’t contact him since he was forced to move out). I don’t want to talk too much about our relationships with his ‘family’ right now, but I can tell you that they don’t accept disabled people.
[Drawing of a reindeer with a red nose, santa, a christmas tree and a cookie holding the word December]
With Christmas I always felt alone too. My family (parents, brother and my 3 grandpartents) would have a nice time, but I would have to sit alone somewhere. For example because I can’t eat dinner (such a soup) on a couch, because that’s too heavy for my hands and wrists. Instead of joining me, they would sit together having fun and I would have to sit in another room. And of course the period before, the relationship wasn’t well with my family and I was depressed, so I didn’t enjoy it back then either. However, now it’s different and I’m really grateful about that. I want to celebrate it with my fellow Hippo and even with my family. They’ve loosened up, although they were never really strict. Of course visiting the grandparents (or they visiting us) and we would have a 3-course meal as dinner, but we wouldn’t have to wear certain clothes or hang aroung downstairs all day. This year they told me they don’t even know if they’re going to visit the grandparents. And I can choose if I’m capable of tagging along.
Even though I’m often too sick or it’s too hard for my body to come along for a couple hours, I do feel like I should. I have a very strong conscience and I couldn’t forigve myself if I haven’t visited my parents for, let’s say a month or so, and then they are suddenly dead. Luckily my parents took them to our house last week, so I’ve seen them for ‘Sinterklaas’. I actually wanted to celebrate it with them, but my dad thought that was too much trouble for him (he can never think of presents to give). I’m happy we never had to make a special package (‘surprise’) or a poem though, but if you feel creative, you’re allowed too.
I’ll write about New Year’s Eve some other time, since I always have some trouble with that holiday, even though there are no obligations.
So, no December fuss for us Hippos. Although I would actually like to decorate a Christmas tree, my fellow Hippo doesn’t want that and we agreed to not do that (we don’t have the stuff for it anyway). I just want to spend some nice time with my fellow Hippo in particular and that’s possible without all the fuss. He’s much more relaxed that way and I start to like it too (even though he’s a bit more strict in it than I am). You can’t force joy anyway and now I’ve got a chance of it to occur spontanously. This way we also have a better balance and can take our illnesses and disabilities into account.
And he does like celebrating our anniversary – the only exception, we have to go to our favourite restaurant around that time (not the exact date) for our anniversary. All other things are optional. You can find more about our special day here – and that is for me the most important one. So, I’m happy and he’s happy and that’s all we should care about 🙂 Lukcily, my (grand)parents seem fine with it too. I also see more and more people unhappy with all the ‘have to’ during the holidays and people start to relax more, let go a little of traditions and do more what they like (and what their bodies and minds can handle). I think that’s a good development!