Christmas and divorces just don’t mix.  They just don’t.

And I know there are so many people out there who are contemplating one.  There are many people whom I know who are in the midst of one.  And then there are those who have just finished one and are staggering their way toward December 25, 2010.  I can literally count on two hands the people I know who have had successful marriages.  That fact in and of itself is depressing.

In the 2010 Season IV episode of Mad Men, Don Draper remarks, “I don’t hate Christmas, I just hate this Christmas.” It’s his first away from the family, by himself and living in an apartment in The Village.  I’d have to go back and watch, but I don’t think Don even bothered with a tree.

I’m struggling with that same point myself.

Christmas Past

Christmas always has been my favorite holiday.  I’m a Christmas-holic.  Even before I got married and then had children, I was into Christmas.  In the early 1990s I even bought these animated Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus figures from Walmart.  That year I also bought an animated reindeer and Santa in his sleigh.  Each place I’ve lived in since has had two ceiling hooks in it from where Santa and the reindeer “flew” each Christmas while hanging with some very strong test fishing line.

Two years ago I made my real-life sized Santa Sleigh and put it out in the front yard and for 12 nights each season, I sat out in front of the house in my home-made Santa suit while parents not wanting to brave the malls brought their kids by to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.  The house was lit up inside and out.  In our house last year we had five Christmas trees in various rooms.  All of it was up by Thanksgiving.

But that was last year and years prior.

Nov. 29, 2010

It’s Nov. 29th, four days after Thanksgiving and I was finally “allowed” to pick up my Christmas belongings from the house today.  They were all in my Christmas crates that I’ve been using for years to store them off season in the shed I put together in 2006.  It rained overnight so the boxes were all wet. They’d been carelessly left outside for me to pick up this morning after receiving an email saying they were out in the driveway, next to the Santa sleigh that apparently will be used no more.

Tonight, after dinner, I’ve brought in the crate with the fake trees in it.  In three pieces, I assembled one and put it in front of the window in the living room.  It looks like about how I feel. 

As I write this, I’m even listening to my favorite Christmas tree decorating music, the Percy Faith Orchestra.  Gosh, do I ever need a little Christmas.

I want to go get a real tree.  Not excluding the fact that I really can’t spare the $30 for a tree, I also don’t have access to my tools, tools I’ve had for as many as 20 years, like a power drill to put three holes in the base of a real tree to then stuff it with cotton balls so the tree continues to drink before it can no more.

I don’t have my saw to cut the one inch off at the bottom necessary to make it stand flat and then to trim off a bottom row of branches so it can fit into the tree stand. Getting them is a hole ‘nother headache.  It shouldn’t be, but it is.

All of those simple things that have not been a problem at this time of the year all seem insurmountable and even then, pointless in oh so many ways.

Resilience

But somehow I know I have to pull it all together.  I still have three daughters who will be coming to share the Christmas holiday with me.  My Dad is supposed to come through Texas, too.

And I must find a way to offer my own three girls their own sense of familiarity with the season and dad.

Even though they’re 13, 11 and 11, I still want to preserve for them some of what is left of the magic I’ve always felt about Christmas time, for some day they’re going to sit around and tell their own kids, “My daddy loved Christmas and it wasn’t Christmas around him if we didn’t have a tree, if we didn’t have the animated stuff up, if we didn’t see him in his Santa suit at least once–or go driving around town in the convertible with him handing out candies and waving at people who were bewildered at seeing Santa in a convertible with three pretty girls in December.”

But it’s so hard.  When everything has been robbed of you, when you’ve taken actions to protect yourself from the anger and misery of others, when you’re doing what you know is right, when you’re working day in/day out to earn an honest living, it can be the loneliest time on earth.

But way back in time, away in a manger, there came a little boy into the world who I’ve told my own kids about.  He wasn’t a jolly old elf who went up and down chimneys in a sleigh.  He was a man, a perfect man, who was beaten, mocked and crucified for being something greater than any of us ever shall be.

I don’t dare equate my struggles with the course of Jesus, but I understand more and more each day as Christmas draws nigh of just the smidgen of pain he felt, and the pain God says he feels when we as humans enter into marriages that later fall apart.

A passing thought.

Instead of a real tree, maybe I should go get one of those Charlie Brown trees.  Naw.  This will pass.




  1. Joe

    You’re a very good writer. I know you’ll do your best for your daughters this Christmas and always, and that’s what really matters. Have a good one.

  2. Donny Claxton

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate it.


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