Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present

It is Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend and I have a glass of eggnog heavily dosed with brandy beside me. My Christmas tree was bought and decorated this weekend. I am admiring it as I type.

Oliver the Cat is unimpressed

A couple of friends helped me with the tree. We decorated while sipping a marvelous pink sparkling wine from the Loire Valley and listening to Christmas music, then made dinner and watched Elf and White Christmas. It was a beautiful day.

It was pointed out to me that I have quite the collection of ornaments now. The “filler” ones that came in a large pack, that I bought when I had so little else on the tree, are barely needed anymore.

It’s a far cry from where I was a few short years ago.

I had a Christmas tree for the first time only when the Narcissist and I moved in together, and I loved it. Every year, he and I would decorate the tree while listening to Christmas music.

Over time, I accumulated a couple of ornaments, but the majority of the tree was covered by his lifetime of ornament collection. Each ornament was special to him in some way. It was a scrapbook of his life, from childhood to present. As each ornament was unwrapped he would smile and appreciate its sentimental importance. It was one of the few times when he seemed honestly happy.

We broke up in 2016.

At Christmas of that year, we were still living together. He got a tree and set it up. He didn’t decorate it. Ultimately, he wound up moving it into his bedroom, declaring that we weren’t allowed to decorate any common areas and fully expecting I would obey his decree. (I didn’t. Because, fuck him.)

I thought we’d maxed out on possible pettiness during the holidays when he moved the Christmas tree into his bedroom because I was “acting entitled” when I expressed disappointment that he hadn’t decorated it when he’d said he would (I had been forbidden from helping). He then forbade me from putting up a tree of my own. Because dammit, only he deserves holiday cheer. Nobody else.

A Twist On Life, The Great Toothpaste Incident of 2017

By Christmas of 2017, I had moved into my new place. I was excited to get a tree and decorate it. I only had a few ornaments, but I knew exactly how that would best be resolved.

I was elected to host our friend group’s annual Christmas Day Open House that year, and I asked everyone to each bring an ornament.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me commemorate this first Christmas in my new home. If you can, please contribute an ornament! It doesn’t have to be something fancy. It will be special to me because it’s from you.

I’ll have metallic sharpies available so you can write your name and a note on the ornament you bring. That way I’ll remember you always, every year when I set up my tree. 🤗

(A note I added to the event invitation)

The Christmas tree for 2019 was bought and decorated this weekend, thanks to a lot of help from a couple of friends. And as each ornament was unwrapped and hung, we noted which of our other friends each ornament was from, and I felt the glow of their love as I decorated my tree.

I have other ornaments now, too. There’s one from Downton Abbey and one from Outlander. There’s the one I bought at Crater Lake during a road trip. There’s one from my trip to Ireland and another from my trip to France.

As each ornament was unwrapped, I smiled and appreciated its sentimental importance. Each ornament is special to me in some way. It is a scrapbook of my life since the year I was able to start my life anew.

Life goes on after a relationship with a Narcissist, and once I was free, I set my mind to creating new memories for Christmas. I love my Christmas tree now. It is visual evidence of the love that exists within my friend group, my emotional strength, and my success in rebuilding my life after ending a relationship with an abusive Narcissist.

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