The holiday season has begun and yet again this year I find myself struggling to find where I fit in. My mom got sick when I was 12 and I have such a short window of ever remembering a good Christmas. I remember the ones that were sad, lonely, and devoid of much joy. My mom was sick or we did not have money for food and bills so gifts, Christmas, and Santa were not top on the list.
Somehow my dad loved Christmas and yet what I saw of that was the love of decorating, the ambience that made it seem that all was well when really it was not. I am torn by my ghost of Christmas past, and how I really have never gotten into the Christmas spirit since I was 12. It has always felt forced and fake to me. I have been at other Christmas’ as an adult where the kids involved ripped their gifts open and only asked for more. It rubbed me the wrong way and I vowed to never breed that in my family. I either do not want to celebrate it the way the rest of the world does, or I want to create a different story. Chris agrees.
Added to my ghost of Christmas past — is that Nico’s birthday is on Christmas. Due to my past I would rather spend the day celebrating him and his birthday than Christmas. Yet, how do we do that when others in our life might not understand where we are coming from? I have long had the opinion (and have shared in other blogs) that I do not want to lie to Nico about Santa. I think there is a way to keep the world magical and real and not lie to our children. How do we ever expect them to trust us if we lie to them? Magic can happen with honesty. Did we all just get sucked into the story of Christmas? The one that circles back to Black Friday, retail, and consumerism? Or is it about spending time together, shared experiences, and giving to others? How many of us actually do that during the holiday season?
Gratefully, Nico will not know the difference this year, but next year will be different. This year (whether his birthday, or if we decide to do an actual Christmas) he is delighted to just have us open a box from Amazon Prime — even if the box contains batteries. Even better when it has a toy truck or school bus.
Call me extreme, but this momma is torn on what to do and how to bring the true spirit of Christmas into Nico’s life.
Over the weekend I had a night where I had the craziest dreams. One after another. I would wake up to pee, and remember my dream and think how bizarre.
The last dream I had that night was one with my mom and grandma. I was driving my grandma’s tank of a car, a light blue Chevy Caprice Classic if you want the visual in your head (1977 at that). I had to take it to get something fixed and when the guy drove it he moved the seat. The seat in that car in the front was one big seat that moved, so I knew when I got in I would have to fix it back to her liking, but it I was not sure I got it right, so I came and found her when I got back and she was doing the oddest types of cleaning and then she disappeared and I find my mom.
Now for the last few years of my mom’s life (I was 12-16) she was sick, so often the memories I have she is sick. When she appeared in this dream she was sick, but sitting up on her own (which was not possible in reality). She looked different (yet not well) and she told me she had been in the weight room, and something about her stomach. Which reminded me that I was pregnant and the ‘lil man started kicking me and I then said to my mom would you like to feel him kick? She put her hand on my belly, and that is when I woke up.
Obviously a vivid dream for me, and one that hit home, just the mere moment in seconds of feeling like my mom got to experience a moment with me and my son. And, then it was gone. I woke up with tears in my eyes, and of course had to get up and pee. I find it fascinating how these things happen when we least expect them. Maybe it was a sign or message for me. Even as I type this I have tears in my eyes. My mom has been gone for 21 years. Away from me longer than she was with me. What would it be like to share these last 2 months of my pregnancy with her?
Chris and I had a solo Christmas. More like it was another day. I was so sick we did not even follow through on the food we were going to make. Instead we watched a few movies and I napped, oh and we slept until 11 am. (What is not to love about that?) We were thinking maybe we would just have today be Christmas Day. I think I am feeling better. It is hard to say as there have been many moments over the last few days where I have felt better, and then whoosh I get hit hard again. No one should ever have to feel this way!
In any case, I was thinking about simplicity. We had a simple Christmas which I love. I absorbed many Christmas trees, gifts being opened, and gatherings via Facebook these past few days, and there are two things I want to mention: opening presents and how to share with others on Christmas.
Opening presents. As a kid our tradition was to take turns selecting a present under the tree for someone else in the family, and when it was someone’s turn everyone gave that person their attention. They could take as long (within reason) as they wanted to open that gift, share gratitude to the giver, and if it were not filled with a million pieces they might even get to put it together quickly. After opening up their present, they cleaned up the mess of paper and ribbons and put it in the trash bag available. You would have your own turn when someone else gave you a gift to open, but you could not hand a gift to yourself. That was our tradition. It has stuck with me. There was a patience, appreciation, and enjoyment with watching each person feel loved and grateful for their gift. Why am I telling you this? Facebook photos yesterday showed crazy amounts of toys, with kids surrounded by them and all the paper and the mess. It makes it hard for me to think that they appreciated them, were grateful to the giver (if they knew who they came from), and I wonder if they cleaned up the mess. Maybe I am horrible, but I think my childhood tradition is one I would like to pass to many.
Which leads me to: share with others on Christmas. Another find on Facebook was a mention of a tradition I do want to start when I have kids that are old enough. This specific family writes a note to Santa on Christmas Eve, leaves a plate of cookies and milk, and each child selects a toy of their own (that they like or no longer play with) and leaves it for Santa to take to a kid somewhere in the world that may not have many toys. A brilliant idea! It is a great way for kids to think about others that do not have what they have and it is a way to have children part with unneeded toys (especially when they are going to be getting more the next morning).
The simplicity of appreciating the gifts we open. The simplicity of sharing with others on Christmas.
I cannot help but be grateful on this Christmas Eve. There is so much to be grateful for in life. An amazing husband, job, home, the happiest of nieces, my family, friends, laughter, just so much. While I am stuck at home with this awful gunk that has been going around, and snuggled in bed or on the couch, I still feel such immense gratitude for all the good that is happening in my life.
Yesterday (and the day before that too) my sister Facetimed me so that hopefully Charlie and her playfulness and laughter would cheer me up from feeling so horrible. Charlie has recently found sneezing (and I just found out burping) to be funny. Mind you she has a sense of humor because she is 10 months old today. To add to the sneezing and burping, my horrendous cough was making her giggle. Multiple times throughout our chat I would cough (you know the deep, uncomfortable kind that hurts) and she would giggle. While not fun to cough, it was fun to see her laugh and giggle. See goodness while feeling like shit.
Chris has been taking good care of me. He ran a few errands for me yesterday that should have taken an hour, and due to the holiday hell out, it took 3 hours. A good friend came to visit and we hung out for a few hours. I feel loved. While it will be just Chris and I for Christmas Day this year, and we have no idea how we are going to spend the day, I am actually looking forward to the quiet, no obligations to anyone, no plan, and selfishly to sleep in and be lazy together. And…hopefully to be done with this bug. Goodness and gratitude.
What are you grateful for on this Christmas Eve? Will you be with your family or friends? Flying solo? Regardless of where you are, what is good in your life and what are you grateful for today?
Sometimes Oprah just nails it. I saw this quote from Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook over the weekend. There was one of her big mega events in New Jersey and author Elizabeth Gilbert joined her for the event. Oprah said:
“YOU DON”T GET WHAT YOU WISH FOR; YOU GET WHAT YOU BELIEVE.”
Wow. That really made me think: Do I wish for things, or do I believe in them? Then my mind goes in a few ways. See, I have had a lot of anxiety going through my thoughts these last few days. I have had this flu bug thing for literally an entire week and when you get slow and spend a lot of time on the couch, your brain slows down. For me that means I think about each and every little thing, but in slow motion. All the events happening in the next few weeks, and all the things I have to do for those events. Both in my professional and personal life. Let me just say that it is a lot. To get it off my chest, I shared the list with Chris on Saturday night. In between blowing my nose, coughing, and snuggling into my pillow and blanket.
“Lay your wishes aside for a spell, and look deep into what you believe about yourself. Make sure your beliefs about your own life are anchored in greatness, in holiness, in worth, in grace, in joy, in excitement —in internal certainties rather than external circumstances. Because that belief? That’s where you’re heading, no matter what it may look like on the outside.”
So — then I should err on the side of leaning towards the good. I should be excited for what is before me, regardless of whatever might make me anxious at that moment, or about what I anticipate. Instead, believe it all to be good. Believe in my own worth, in my goodness, and greatness.