Mariah, I'm Spending Christmas Alone

Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov
Dear Father, Mother and Mariah Christmas,

I am reporting that this year I will be spending the day – the big C day, the one before and the one after – alone. I am an independent, bold and dynamic woman who can spend a few days alone even if those days are apparently all about the giving, the sharing and being with others. I can definitely do this. I can, I'm sure I can.

If I'm honest, I've spent quite a few Christmas Days feeling very alone even when I was surrounded by wonderful company. But this year is a choice, a planned choice; I could be with people, family or friends but I need to prove something to myself. I need to see if I am really happy. I need to see if I can cut right through the squashy nostalgia and warm cosiness of yellow flickering lights to see if there is still a sadness and if there is, can I let it go. Mariah, if you're listening, you haven't really helped – for the past week or so now that gloopy song of yours has been piped through every single digital orifice of my mountain home, reminding me far sooner than need be that this year is a test of my character.

I am alone in "Christmas family" terms. I have a splintered family but we long since stopped doing "Family Christmases". We're all divorced and, in reality, a group of singles who only have family in common. That's not to say we don't love each other but over time we have all grown apart and become very different. In truth I think we annoy each other more than we delight each other. Besides, although we have being single in common, my siblings all have children and some grandchildren, truly wonderful children and grandchildren, but I don't. I know that sounds selfish and maybe even childish but I just feel like I have done it for many years, been there as a doting aunt, a single childless aunt. Smiling and stepping in when asked.

I don't have that script in me anymore; maybe it will come back but since "vaginal landing" (a bygone trans Christmas wish) I have felt utterly bereft at being childless. I did think my vagina would be all about the "action" but it's actually been all about the reaction and release of years of bottled-up childless pain. All I wanted for Christmas this year was penetration and adoration but instead I have the harshest reality that my vagina doesn't lead to a womb – as beautiful as it is, its ability is finite. Its depth is shallow.

Humour me for a bit, Mariah. I have planned out in my mind so many times what kind of Christmas I'd have if I had children; single parent or not, I know exactly what kind of day it would be. I'm not naive, I know things don't go to plan but since I am only dreaming it can always be just shy of perfect. That makes it worse. Like a stilted word of love caught on the edge of a tongue.

My gift to me this year is the time to feel this and, perhaps, accept it.

There would of course be a rather beautifully decorated piece of driftwood, hung with homemade decorations and masses of twinkling white lights, simple and, thanks to Kirstie Allsopp, very cheap. Stockings bursting would hang on the ends of beds, and my eyes would be full of tears watching my children open presents they would no doubt fling to one side later. But Christmas would be full of them and for as long as possible it would be full of wonder and laughter. As my emptiness has grown over the years so has the impossibly perfect vision of my family Christmas. I know I shouldn't be like this, I know I should be a great aunt who spoils her nieces and nephews and who gets joy from seeing their rather wonderful faces and smiles, but this year I can't. To them, I'm sorry. But it hurts. The silence in my life is the silence of no children. I would have loved a partner, at times, but now I can accept that being without one has as many benefits as drawbacks. But I cannot make sense of not being a parent. I somehow feel like I squander my life without them. Like I ricochet silently from action to inaction, sometimes appearing successful, sometimes happy and sometimes content. This year I want – no, need – to face this head on. I've never truly been alone before, by choice. Once, many years ago, a lover went out on Christmas Eve to get my presents and returned the day after Boxing Day with a massive hangover and love bites on his belly. Not a great year. Alone, yes, but not by choice. This is the year I can allow myself to wallow. My gift to me this year is the time to feel this and, perhaps, accept it.

I will never be a mother, or a grandmother. This life ends with me, no amount of overly humanised pooches will make it otherwise (they will of course get stockings, treats and perhaps an outfit). Children really must make sense of life, of being alive in a way that no job, career or other achievement can. I'm not doubting that there may be others who get great satisfaction, joy and love from these other pursuits but having children must surely be so life-affirming; they are living, breathing, laughing, joyous beings that have the capacity to love you back and to grow in ways that must be miraculous, infuriating and complex. That connection, full of love, is not something I have been able to build with anything else in my life. No job, no house, no object, no purpose; no aim or ambition or lover.

I truly miss something I've never experienced and this year, on Christmas Day, I will try to put to bed this thing, this feeling that dominates so much of my mind-time.

I live in a remote part of Andalusia in a very small village, a hamlet really, four or five old village houses. At Christmas it's quiet and quite empty, the perfect place to have this kind of reflection. I never cry. My sister asked me this year if my tear ducts had dried up; they haven’t, but I never truly believed that these tears were mine to cry. I have very little desire to feel more feminine or beautiful or to mourn proms, dresses or dances under the stars with a significant other – my truth is that being transgender denied me the choice of being a mother. And that's the important part, being a mother. I know I could have been a parent, but this body that I never chastise or call wrong could never allow me the joy of pregnancy, or the intimate bond of motherhood.

So dear Mariah et al. I think you get the drift. I will return next year to auntie duties; I may even put festive ringlets in my hair and wear an inappropriate "Santa's Helper" costume (you know what I'm talking about here, M.C.) but, this year, it's nut roast and a spud for one. And maybe a tear or two and the acceptance that, although I can never have the life that I all too often see through "misty-rosy" lenses, I have this one and I should be thankful for it.

@justjuno1
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