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joyeux noel, or something

December 14, 2014

Have been wondering a lot about Spouse’s emotional palette/range lately. Saturday, we spent some quality time snuggling, and it seemed like a good time to ask, so I did.

I asked him if he ever felt joy. He didn’t think so.

I asked about a “bubble of delight”, something that I said to me feels like fizzy bubbles rising up inside, and I want to dance around, and/or I’m grinning in a silly way. He said No.

I asked about numinous experiences. He asked me to clarify. I said I’d had a lot of different kinds, and stumbled through descriptions of a few of them. He said he didn’t think he’d ever felt anything like that.

He has felt something he calls “excitement”, and “anticipation”, neither of which seem to be socially-oriented. [Excitement about gifts as a kid; anticipation in a travel situation]


I’ve been trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas/Winter Holiday this year, after many years of not celebrating anything much (and being triggered by mentions of Christmas). I knew our childhood Christmases were very different, so I asked him in some detail what he liked about those long-ago holidays.

It wasn’t food, since the only “holiday” food they ever had was a turkey (which he doesn’t like), and weird desserts (that he also didn’t like). It wasn’t seeing family. It wasn’t a Christmas tree, or decorations. Of course they didn’t sing carols.

I asked him about cookies, holiday cookies. Eh, he can take ‘em or leave ‘em. He’s never had eggnog or mulled cider, and doesn’t want to try either.

It wasn’t even the gifts themselves that he liked. Trying to puzzle out what they were, in the wrapping, seemed to be more intriguing to him (in retrospect) than whatever the gifts themselves had been.

There was no “Christmas spirit”, no magic.


I believed in Santa until the Christmas I was 15. I couldn’t sleep that night, so I was awake in a nearby room when my parents snuck up into the attic to retrieve all the presents “from Santa”. I kept trying to convince myself it wasn’t them I was hearing, but of course it was.

I miss the magic the most. The surprise, in a good way. The being extra nice to each other all December.

I miss the joy.

Once I started thinking about joy, I realized mine is generally when I’m not with other human beings; I’m often outside, though, interacting with critters and trees and water.

Childhood Christmases were the only times in my life when (my) joy occurred in a group.


If Spouse can’t even feel joy at all, though, how can it be Christmas?

What’s the point in “celebrating” anything if joy isn’t invited?

Oh gods, no wonder holidays with Spouse’s parents are so grim and joyless. And my conviction that my FIL is anti-joy — maybe that’s not actually hyperbole.

Now I know why Spouse never ‘catches’ my joy or exuberant moods (although other people I’ve known well often did).

Gods, what could make life worth living, without joy? My heart just hurts right now.


As far as gifts go, he’s always been impossible to get things for, unless he supplies an incredibly-detailed list ahead of time. Which is no fun for me at all — I like the creative part of gift-giving, the element of (good) surprise. Whereas for him, if he doesn’t know down to practically the serial number of what he’s getting, he’s probably not going to like it.

So the good news is, whatever I get him has already failed. So I can’t screw it up.

Yessir, doesn’t that put a person into a holiday mood right there? < sob >

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