This Christmas

I've never been a big fan of the holiday season. 

Crowds, overpriced cheesy gifs, spending time with family that you hardly know and can barely stand.

That is what the holidays are all about right?

When I was a kid, my parents would throw these huge, lavish parties for their friends.  They would drink through the night, stumbling around the house in their designer gowns and tuxedos, dancing inappropriately with people they hardly knew.

I used to sit up at the top of the staircase, watching the crowds, wondering why everyone was so happy.

I wasn't happy.  Why would I be?  I was alone on Christmas—every single year.  The house would be full of people, and yet I'd be totally alone.

The parties continued until my parents got divorced.

Then I would spend every other Christmas in that vast house, under a towering tree, playing with a pile of toys, while my mother fooled around in the bedroom with some guy she barely knew.

Toys are rarely fun when you have to play alone.

When I wasn't with my mother, I was with my father—and I still don't know which was worse.

Unlike my mother, my father would normally be with me on Christmas morning, but would later drag me into the casino with him, where I'd be forced to sit through two rehearsals for a holiday show that I would have to watch later that night anyway.  As I grew older, my father had it in his head that I really wanted to perform in his shows, and would force me to dance around the stage in little more than a rain slicker and a hideous pair of short-shorts.  My stint as back up dancer came to an abrupt end after I 'accidentally' broke my ankle playing tennis in my junior year of high school.

When I went away for college, I stopped going home for the holidays.  My roommate would always invite me over for the holiday break, but after a disastrous Thanksgiving incident involving his sister and my toe, I decided I'd be safer staying on campus through the holidays.

On Christmas day, I used to trek across campus and find a quiet corner in the student lounge.  It wasn't hard, since the only other students that were around were the foreign exchange kids, and they all stuck with each other.  I would usually settle in with a good book, or I would sometimes sketch in my notebook.

Most of the time, I would write.

I used to write all the time.  Writing was cathartic for me I guess, and I would spend so much time alone that I could write for hours without interruption.  I'd write stories, poems, songs…whatever came to mind at the time.  My stories would involve swashbuckling pirates, or heroic knights.  They would be about aliens, or robots.  They were full of adventure and…romance.

There was always romance.  I always thought that I must have gotten it from my mother, but the truth is (a truth I refused to admit for years) I'm a romantic at heart.  I love the idea of being in love.

I figured it would never happen in real life…so I just kept writing about it.

As the years wore on, I wrote less and less.  My life became hectic, and I was able to find a circle of friends who truly cared about me. 

Yet still, there were times when I would become lost in thought…in my writing, around the holidays.  I was still missing that one thing that I wanted more than anything.

Love.

When it did happen, I was completely unprepared for it.  It wasn't the dramatic, sweeping romance that I had often written about.

It was so much better.  Better than I could have ever imagined.

Last Christmas I thought I wasn't going to make it home.  At first I thought I would be okay with it, but the more I thought about spending time away from my wife, the harder it got for me to imagine spending another Christmas alone.

I'd been alone on this day my entire life, after all.

This Christmas just may be our best yet.  We're together, we're happy, and we're getting the child we've been trying desperately for.

I watch my wife, as she puts the finishing touches on our tree, and I realize that this time next year, we'll have a child, a child to spoil with gifts and love with all our hearts.

I close my eyes, and imagine the look that will be on our child's face on every Christmas morning from now on.

My child will never know what it's like to spend Christmas Day alone.

This, I swear.

I won't be satisfied until every single ornament is hung perfectly.

My husband and friends often laugh at my strange obsessive ness, but I can't help myself.

My compulsiveness comes from years spent trying to please my mother.

A task, I've come to discover, that is futile.

My mother always preferred my brother to me.  It was no secret in our house that Jack and Judy had only planned to have one child.

Imagine their horrible surprise when they got another one.

I've been treated thusly ever since.  Even on Hanukkah, when we were supposed to be a family, Ross got better crappy Hanukkah gifts than I did.

One year, I asked my father why we didn't have a tree like everyone else in the neighborhood.  He laughed and said that we didn't need a tree—we had a menorah!

The following year, Ross asked the same question, and we ended up with a tree in our living room.

So I spent a good part of my childhood and most of my adulthood struggling to please my parents.  But, it seemed the harder I tried, the more I failed them.  It didn't matter that Ross married a lesbian, had a child out of wedlock and then proceeded to fly through two more dysfunctional marriages.

He was Ross, after all; he could do no wrong.

And I'm Monica, and I can do nothing right.

Hence, the perfect tree; the obsessively clean apartment…

I always told myself that when I had children, I would accept them for who they were, no matter what.  I would never put them down for being fat, I would never yell at them for getting a B instead of an A, I would never tell them that they were worthless.

When Chandler and I found out that we couldn't have kids, I felt like I was failing everyone again—my parents, my husband, everyone.

I was pulling a 'Monica'.

Falling in love with Chandler was the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Because when I am at my lowest, when I truly think that I am that worthless little girl that my mother never accepted and my father all but ignored, he picks me up, dusts me off, and tells me that I am his entire world.

This year, we are getting the child we've wanted for so long, and I know that even though the child will not be ours biologically, we will love it unconditionally. 

My child will have a tree, a menorah, and all the love in the entire world.

I heard there was a secret chord

that David played and it pleased the Lord

But you don't really care for music, do you?

Well it goes like this:

The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah...

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof

You saw her bathing on the roof

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrough ya

She tied you to her kitchen chair

She broke your throne and she cut your hair

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Baby I've been here before

I've seen this room and I've walked this floor

I used to live alone before I knew ya

I've seen your flag on the marble arch

But love is not a victory march

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know

What's really going on below

But now you never show that to me do ya

But remember when I moved in you

And the holy dove was moving too

And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Well, maybe there's a God above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah...

'Hallelujah' (L. Cohen)