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Tag Archives: Christmas

Choices

24 Nov

I was sitting on the kitchen floor, trying to muffle my crying, when my husband found me that Christmas Day about ten year ago.

“Oh my God, what’s wrong?” he asked, his voice full of concern.

My response was a babble of how the kitchen was a mess, how I had spent hours cleaning it for two days so I could have it clean for Christmas, but because my husband and kids decided to make a big breakfast Christmas morning, the kitchen was now a mess again – flour on the counters, dirty pans on the stove, and I was faced with more cleaning before having to prepare Christmas dinner  – which then I’d have to clean up after.

All of this between sobs and whining noises that only the dog could hear.

It was an epic, and well-earned, meltdown on my part. That past year, we’d been coming to terms with the fact that our youngest wasn’t just developmentally delayed, she was disabled. She was disabled to the point that she would probably always need to live with us. Just a couple of weeks before Christmas, she’d been diagnosed with epilepsy. I’d fighting depression and anxiety all year and trying to dig my way out of the messy house that came with it. Having the house clean for Christmas had been important to me. A clean house meant that I had my stuff together, that I was getting control of things, that I was a better mom than what I thought I was. A clean house meant a whole lot of things that it didn’t really mean, but it was important at the time. If my house was clean, then it wouldn’t bother me, and I could relax and enjoy the holiday.

I really wanted to enjoy the day.

Instead, I was sitting on the floor in desperate need of a tissue, hyperventilating.

My husband, who was now also sitting on the floor, apologized for messing up my clean kitchen, and offered to take care of things. I hiccupped about how I still had to cook dinner, and things needed to be started asap or else they wouldn’t be done in time, and maybe how everything was impossible because at that point, everything seemed impossible.

“How about we just order Chinese food?” he suggested.

I blinked at him.

“The kids don’t care about the food, and it’s just us anyway. It would be easier.”

A week later, as I told this story to my therapist, I got to this point, and she leaned in. “And what was your answer?” she asked eagerly.

“I told him to see if the Chinese restaurant was open.” I said.

“Yes! That was the right response!” she cheered.

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And it was. It was exactly the right response. I was there, crushed to the floor with the burden of making a perfect holiday, and was given an escape route. I could have forced myself to reject the easier path, to pull myself together and make the damn Christmas dinner.

Instead, I chose the easier route, and in doing so, I chose to enjoy my day.

I can’t remember if the kitchen ever got cleaned or if we decided to just ignore the mess. I do know that the Chinese restaurant was open, and the kids thought it was great to get Chinese for Christmas dinner. Afterwards, I sat on the couch laughing with our youngest while the older three and my husband had an epic Nerf gun battle through the house. For months afterwards, we found orange darts in odd places.

I had given up my idea of what it should be, and embraced what the day could be.

The kids remember it as one of the best Christmases ever.

Go figure, so do I.

Life is funny – you grow up thinking if you just go to school, find the right job, marry the right person, have babies at the right time, that things will go well for you, and there you are on Christmas Day, with the perfect turkey cooked perfectly, the centerpiece of your perfectly laid out table.

But that’s not how it works for most of us, and you’ll find yourself faced with choices. Complicated, messy choices that are hard. There is no getting around those. Some choices are made for you and you have to go along with them.

And sometimes, you are faced with a choice that is almost ridiculously simple, and yet can change everything. They are the choices that end up as the memories we cherish most.

So as we head into this holiday season, I hope you all are able to make a choice that’s easy and that brings joy. 

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

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My own little Christmas miracle

12 Dec

The first Christmas in Ireland, I pulled out our box of decorations, set to decorate the tiny bush-like tree Josh got while out one day. Our quarters were a bit cramped, and we had left our giant fake tree behind, so this little bush of a tree that sat on a side table was perfect. We put our decorations on it, and I noticed something…we were missing an ornament.

Not just any ornament.

We were missing my firstborn’s “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament.

I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I was always pretty good about keeping the Christmas stuff packed away together. Everyone else’s First Christmas ornaments were accounted for. But Collin’s was missing.

I may have hyperventilated a little. His was a porcelain Beatrix Potter, mama bunny and baby bunny in a rocking chair ornament my mother got us, something way more extravagant that I could have afforded as a new mother. It didn’t go on a tree for the first, I don’t know, ten years, as I constantly had toddlers or puppies trying to climb said tree. But I’d get it out, put it out on the mantle, then tuck it back away with the others.

Yet there we were in Ireland, missing it.

Collin didn’t miss it. His sentimental ornament is the Rudolph ornament he made in kindergarten that I’ve glued the eyes back on more than once, and that I treated as carefully as the Beatrix Potter one.

But I missed it. I had hoped it was just elsewhere, in a different box that we missed. We had taken everything we were keeping to Ireland, and got rid of everything else by one way or another. I held out hope that it would magically turn up.

By the next Christmas, I had gone through every box. The ornament was still missing. I accepted that maybe it was gone for good. Every year, I’d get out the ornaments, start decorating the tree, place three “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments on the tree and sigh over the loss of our very first one. This was my sixth year of doing that. The sixth year I reminded myself that it would be okay, the ornament Collin cared about more was still present on the tree.

Then yesterday, the husband and I went out. “Where do you want to go?” he asked.

We were right by the one little posh thrift shop. “Let’s go there.” I said. This thrift shop is a fun little place staffed by lovely ladies, and full of hidden treasures. I found fish bottles like the ones my friend had. I also found little yellow glass bottles to replace the ones I used to have but got broken along the way.

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So into the thrift store we go, which is all decked out in “Please buy this Christmas themed stuff” holiday cheer. There are packages of Barbies and snowmen plates and village sets galore. There are colored glass ornaments in their original 1970’s boxes. There’s holiday aprons galore.

And there was a three tiered display of boxed Hallmark ornaments.

I wasn’t going to stop and really look at any of this. Because we have what we need. And yet, I paused at the stack of Hallmark ornaments, and glance at the first bin. and see this.

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I may have let out a sound so high-pitched, only dogs could hear it. Or maybe they even couldn’t hear it. But there was gasping, and “OMG!” and “HONEY LOOK! IT’S THE ORNAMENT I LOST!”

“That’s coming home with us, isn’t it?”

“UH YEAH!” I stated. “You’re just lucky I’m not opening crying in the store.”

And then I half-heartedly looked at other stuff in the store because none of it really mattered, I had been given back my lost ornament and they could have charged full price and I’d have slapped all the money on the counter, but to make it all a bit sweeter, it was half off in price. Then I tucked it into my purse, and brought it home, to fill that void I’d been missing for five Christmases.

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And now, my tree is once again complete, thanks to my own little Christmas miracle in the form of a half price sale at a thrift shop and the ridiculous odds of finding a 20 year old ornament when you weren’t even looking for it.

 

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Can we just enjoy the fecking moment?

29 Oct

Last night, driving home, there was a house lit up in Christmas lights.

Christmas. Lights.

It’s still October people. And we have two holidays between today and Christmas.

On Facebook, I’m seeing all these countdowns, usually with Will Farrell’s Elf dude in the meme about how it’s only so many weekends until Christmas!!!! (extra exclamation points required by law.) X amount of weekends people!!! GET INTO THE FECKING HOLIDAY MOOD NOW!!!!

nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, slacker me still has a pumpkin to carve, because I’m not ready for the legit holiday coming up. Though now, I want to throw said uncarved pumpkin at people.

Why?

Because all of this is crazy making and ruining the fucking holidays for most of us. The Christmas season has gotten too long – and I’m Catholic. I enjoy a good Advent. And because the Christmas season is now starting in freaking October, by December 26th, all the people who are playing Christmas tunes in October and decorating November 1st are soooooo over Christmas and start posting pictures of super cleaned up houses with no trace of holiday left and bragging about the clean fresh space and unclutteredness while the rest of us are still possibly celebrating the Christmas season with another family party or, if you’re Italian, an Epiphany Dinner on January 6th. By January 15th, the early holidayers are now judging me because my lights are still up while complaining how dreary January is.

And I’m officially over it.

I’m over the holiday frenzy that’s supposed to last for three months. I’m over Christmas taking precedence over everything else that happens between September 15th and December 1st. I’m tired of being judged for having my lights still up two weeks after Christmas when you’ve had yours up for three months before the holiday. I don’t want to hear Christmas music in October, but there it is on the radio. I know. I heard it, then looked for a cliff to drive my car off of because OMG make it stop!

I’m not a Scrooge. I actually love Christmas. I love the season. But I also love Halloween, and autumn that’s supposed to stretch through November, and getting handprint turkeys from the kids, and watching my husband cook a turkey on Thanksgiving, and celebrating the little holidays like St. Nicholas Day and the Epiphany. I actually like shopping in December to find a last minute gift, and don’t want to have that all done so I can then do fifteen different Pinterest-inspired “New Traditions!”. I’m over New Traditions! I’d like to keep my old ones, thank you. And that Elf on the Friggen Shelf can just stay on the Target shelf.

Tell you what? I’ll try to turn a blind eye to your Christmas tree up on November 1st if you ignore the fact that mine is still up January 15th, m’kay?

Meanwhile, I have to get working on our family tradition of “Oh crap, it’s October 29th and a kid needs a costume.” followed by “Geez, maybe I should carve the friggen pumpkin already.” tradition on October 30th.

Peace.

 

 

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