“Leftover day”

Many people find the holidays hard. For me, the hardest time has always been the time between Christmas and my birthday, February 1st. My parents did not celebrate birthdays, not mine, at least. I remember the year I turned seven, we had just moved to California from Maine. I came home on my birthday and saw a new bicycle sitting on the (shared) balcony of our second floor apartment. I remember I came into the apartment exclaiming “Someone got a new bicycle!” I remember, that without any fanfare or interest, my mother replied, “Yes, that’s yours.” I was so excited, for a moment, thinking I’d actually gotten a birthday present, until she continued, “We went to your new school today, and they told us all the kids ride bikes to school. There’s no bus.” Oh. I remember wishing she’d just let me imagine it a present… but there was no “Do you like it?” No interest in watching me ride my first bike. No celebration at all…

My Christmas wish to Santa every year of my life, as far back as I can remember has been only “I want a friend for Christmas.” The autistic feelings of isolation and never fitting in are especially hard at that time when I’d see so much love and laughter being shared. I wished only to be part of that. The few presents under the tree were only ever a poor substitute for getting to spend time together with friends, laughing and sharing happiness.

All of my childhood I wished only to feel loved and celebrated. I saw other kids having birthday parties – which I was never even invited to. I watched, as they smiled and laughed, and had fun together. I saw the joy on the face of the birthday girl or boy. And it just added to those feelings of isolation. As an adult, my Christmas wishes to Santa for love and friendship sillily extended to my birthday, still hoping for that magical moment I might see someone wishing to celebrate with me… to celebrate knowing me, to want to share that joy with me – but my birthday now has seemed to turn into what I think of as “leftover day.” Whatever I told my hubby David that I wished for at Christmastime and wasn’t under the tree, he is no doubt giving me for my birthday. I don’t blame him, it only makes sense. But it sort of takes away a sense of anticipation or surprise. So, it’s a hard and lonely time of year for me. I try to make or find my own magic, but admittedly struggle especially during these few weeks, still wishing Santa might find me a leftover Christmas present, and just give me friendship for my birthday… the one present I’ve wanted most my entire life. Then “leftover day” would be the best day of all.

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