health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Holidaze

Here we are, it’s the first day of December. December has officially arrived. The holiday season is in full swing. Hanukkah has begun, the menorah has been lit. Every radio station playing Christmas carols, some playing them 24/7. Twinkle lights twinkle at every turn. An Elf on every shelf… thank god I missed this “tradition”. Advent calendars starting their Christmas Eve countdown. Christmas trees popping up on every social media feed, along with the ever present and ever so popular question “So… got all your Christmas shopping done?” or my all time favorite “Don’t you just love Christmas?!?!”. What never ceases to amaze me is those who declare their love of Christmas and the holidays are the same people that have a panic attack wondering if their Mother in Law will complain about the Turkey or their Mother will once again voice her concern over their daughter wearing black eyeliner.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched and listened to many I hold dear. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes, the panic in their voice, all over the holidays, over getting all the gifts just right and the opinions and reactions of their families. When I’m asked about my plans, I usually just get a blank stare followed with “I wish I could do that.”. What are my plans you ask? A quiet night with my parents, my hubby and daughter on Christmas Eve. A quiet lunch with my Mother in Law on Christmas Day. Am I done my shopping? I don’t know. Yup, you read that correctly, I don’t know. I always buy my Mother in Law some of her favorite creams, candles etc…, they make her happy. I buy for my daughter, because I enjoy surprising her. That’s about it. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts, on Christmas. We surprise each other during the year, some years more than others. I’ll put together little things I’ve found throughout the year to brighten a friend’s day.

Before you stop reading, or shout out your screen “Easy for you! You don’t have a huge family!” or “Easy to say when you don’t have 6 kids!” or “Everyone in your family is healthy!”, you are all correct. It is easy for me, it wasn’t always. I used to knock myself out trying to create the picture perfect holiday season. Yes, the season, not just a day or two, the whole goddamn month. I Martha Stewarted and Norman Rockwelled the shit out of the holidays. I’m tired just thinking about it. I was trying so hard to achieve the holiday I thought I should be having, not the holiday I wanted to have. Being as stubborn as I once was, and still am, in 2009, the powers that be, the Universe, God, the Smurfs, your choice, decided it was time for me to slow down and ease up, so my body grew a fibroid, a big one,(no cancer) and the surgery date was slotted for December 4th. You can’t deck the halls when you have a 10 inch scar across your stomach. So there I was, forced to slow down and guess what? The ground didn’t open up and swallow me whole. Who knew a hysterectomy for Christmas would be one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

The point to my holiday/medical rambling you ask? Let’s go to Oxford Dictionary for a moment. Holiday noun; a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done. … see, the dictionary gets it, it’s time we do too.

We cannot control everything, trust me, I’ve tried. We can’t. We can’t control how Aunt Ida keeps giving you a hand knit sweater 3 sizes too big and demands you model it even though she’s reminded every year of your size and that you are allergic to wool. We can’t control how Mothers and Mother in Laws are “fine” with alternating Christmas dinners. We can’t control the opinion that our kids eat too much junk by the very people who fill a stocking full of chocolate and treats and give them to said children. Sorry Virginia, in the case of controlling your family, friends and all aspects of your holiday experience, there is no Santa Claus. We can, however, control ourselves, our reactions, our personal traditions. I don’t see all my family on Christmas Day anymore. I deliver cookies before Christmas and have a visit. We see my parents on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we share a meal, sometimes hor d’oeuvres. Sometimes we exchange gifts, sometimes we exchange memories and good conversation. We still have to travel on Christmas Day to see family, but now we decide the time. Too many snow squalled drive homes in the dark changed that. We now go for lunch. We see our family, we eat a meal together, watch my Mother in Law and daughter open gifts, have a nice visit and are home by 4 p.m.. Meeting halfway is better than not meeting at all.

Christmas presence, be it for the day or for an hour, is better than any Christmas presents you can buy.

lifestyle, parenting, Sunday Confessions

Sunday Confessions

 

Comparison is the thief of joy. A lovely quote I stumbled upon many years ago. I have to admit, I used to compare myself and my life to others. Feeling like I was missing out, or not doing enough with my life. I would hear of vacations, career changes, new houses, new cars, you name it…if I heard about it, it was always accompanied with a dash of jealousy, wishing I could have all those things too. Nowadays, not so much. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s my hysterectomy, maybe it’s the fact I am going to be 46 in a few days, maybe it’s perspective, maybe it’s everything coming together all at once.

This October I am taking a trip to Vancouver with my husband and I am going to my first concert with my husband. We have been together 26 years, married for 24. When I tell this to people, I almost always get “the face”. You know the one, the look of pity, or shock or sheer disbelief that I have not traveled or rocked out at a concert in 24 years. I have had people ask if our marriage was in trouble and if we are trying to rekindle the spark. I have had people tell me it’s about time I started living. I have had people say “…so what have you been doing with your life?”. Ten years ago, these phrases would have flattened me. I would have let the opinions of others take the helm of my life’s journey. I would have felt embarrassed or ashamed of my life, or lack there of. Today, not so much.

A long time ago, I decided to put my marriage, my family and our life together first. Over the years, we have faced job losses, lay offs, health issues – some scary, some not. We decided it made more sense financially and emotionally for me to stay home with our daughter until she reached school age. It didn’t make sense for me to be out of the house 40 hours a week to hand over most of my paycheck to a daycare provider. We made a one income household work, hence no travelling. When my husband was faced with manufacturing layoffs, I stepped up and worked 6 days a week. Keeping our house was more important then having a family vacation photo. My mother in law broke her hip, twice. That summer we took care of her, got her the rehabilitation she needed, took care of her home and finances, so our summer vacation plans fell to the wayside. I could go on an on, reading the list would make your eyes blurry and would give me carpal tunnel. Sure, we could have gone on trips and rocked out at concerts, but we couldn’t afford it, and honestly, I, hell, we were stressed enough, why would we add more financial stress to our platter? How would I enjoy myself sitting on a beach knowing that I had a credit card bill waiting for me in my mailbox with the vacation and hotel charges that I couldn’t pay? I guess all I am trying to say is shit happens, plans change, life gets in the way and never be ashamed of your life because you aren’t doing what everyone else seems to be doing.┬áThis is your life. Your choices must be what is best for you, and for your family (for those of us that have one). No one else is living your life but you. Another great quote I stumbled upon is “the opinions of others do not pay the bills”.

I am proud of what my husband and I have accomplished. It hasn’t always been pretty, sometimes it got ugly, but we are still together, fighting the good fight. We never lost sight of the fact that we love each other and that the problems and arguments were because of life getting in the way, not loss of love for one another. We have our home, we have our health, we have a beautiful daughter who is coming into her own and doors are opening for her at every turn…and although it is later than planned, we are going to travel and rock out at a concert.