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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Perfect is in the eye of the beholder....

Is your home decked out for Christmas?  Presents all wrapped perfectly every year?  You wouldn't think of serving store bought cookies--the horror, they have to be rolled and cut and perfectly decorated.  Christmas cards---done in calligraphy and out before the 1st of December to people you don't even talk to but once a year. Perfect goody bags and treats for your kids classmates and teachers. You have presents and homemade gifts for every person who you come in contact with, from the mailman to the receptionist at your Drs. office don't you?  Yea---that was me!  And guess what?  I was miserable every stinkin' year.   By the time I got to my sister's tree trimming party I was grouchy and tired and not very much fun.   There was always an emptiness inside of me that I thought came because I didn't get any surprises.  Yea, that's right I said it. 

 I LOVE Christmas!  When I was a kid my brother and I would unwrap our presents from "Santa" and play with them and then wrap them back up with no one the wiser.  (he taught me all his tricks so when he was old enough to buy me presents he would booby trap his room so I couldn't touch them).  I would always feel that bit of disappointment on Christmas morning that I ruined some of the magic.  Then as I got older my brother and sister would spoil me crazy rotten!  I got so many amazing gifts from them and it was so much fun waiting for the time to open them.  Then my boyfriends used to spoil me after that and the Christmas magic continued.  It wasn't greed, in my defense, it was the excitement of not knowing what was in those boxes.  It didn't matter what it was it was that anticipation.  Almost like the having your first kiss every year--.

My family consists of thoughtful and loving people.  We are always thinking about how to make other's lives happy or easier.  It became almost a contest to see who could get me the most excited at Christmas.  I was spoiled.  Things changed when I met my ex husband.  Christmas for him was more about getting things you need and not things you wanted.  Luckily my sister kept my magic alive every year and once my nephew and niece came along the magic became making them the most excited on Christmas morning.  That was magic for me in a whole different way.  Then, my son was born.  I converted my ex husband to the "dark side" of Christmas of want and not need.   Luckily for my kids.  They had and still have magical Christmases.  Every single item on their list was checked off no matter what had to be done to do it.  Seeing them on Christmas morning was my happiness.  But all the extra stuff--the stuff I did for appearances (decorations, cards, cookies, gifts, goody bags) did not bring me joy.  It only brought me stress.

I realized this year that when my daughter was born in 2003 was when I stopped getting everything done before Christmas.  I just realized this year that it is because I wait until after her birthday to start Christmas stuff because I never want her birthday to be mixed in with Christmas. So instead of it all getting done Thanksgiving weekend (the decorating, tree, Christmas card pics) it was getting pushed off until after December 8th.  So every year less and less got done.  This year I did nothing.  That's right, you heard me---nothing!  Not one Christmas decoration is up in my house.  No lights outside.  No cards done.  No presents for anyone except my family and my daughter's teacher (which I must admit I threw together the night before the last day of school).  But guess what?  I am FULL of joy and excitement about Christmas.  Cookies were baked this year.  Snuggling and movie watching occurs almost nightly.  We went out looking at lights. I decided no full blown turkey dinner this year--it's BBQd steak, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole (I promised my 16 year old), the tree decorating was the most fun I can remember us having doing the task...EVER.  And guess what?  I'm sure they will never say "hey remember that Christmas when mom didn't send out cards or decorate?"  I bet it will be, "remember that year when Mom just relaxed and enjoyed Christmas?"  And isn't that what it's all about?

So, next year when you are stressing away trying to get it all done I want you to stop and think about it.  Who is this for anyway?  Is it really that important to anyone if the crooked wreath gets hung?  If it is that important to someone then by all means do it!  But don't rob your joy for things that you *think* are important just because you've always done it that way.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours <3 

Monday, December 8, 2014

When in doubt, look up!

Remember a few entries back I said I was different.  That I didn't feel things as deeply.  Well0I'm back to feeling.  Not sure if I like it or not.  Army commercials, FB posts etc are hitting me hard.  Tears streaming down my face in the middle of a college baseball recruiting speech.  Crying at Christmas Carols at my daughter's sing a long.  I'm definitely back to my old self.  What's changed?  A lot!

First, I've been praying a lot more.  Asking God to keep me in the present and let the future take care of itself.  I've been mindful and being present in the current moment and that helps me be happier and grateful.  I have a good life and so much to be grateful for.  Interestingly enough, a stroll down memory lane preparing for my daughter's 11th birthday made me realize that my kids and I are very blessed.  I realized that while I'm a very optimistic person, I have a nasty tendency to pick out the negative in any given situation and that's what changes my perception of past events.  I'm working hard on fixing that and it's making me feel joy again.  I missed joy!  I was very focused on future destinations and was failing to smell the tulips along the way.

The college coach was telling the boys that they wouldn't be seeing their families much because summers would be spent doing camps in different parts of the country.  The tears started flowing.  Chances are that within the next 18 months it will just be me and my daughter at home.  Where will home be?  Will we stay here?  Will we move closer to my boys?  Who knows!  Then I realized it's been 30 years since I lived in the same state as my parents and 10 years since I've lived near my siblings and precious nieces and godsons/nephews and I still consider myself to have a very close bond with them.  Looking back over pictures from the last 11 years they are there through it all.  So, in actuality, distance doesn't really matter--what matters is making an effort to remain in each other's hearts and minds and lives.  Will my kids do that????  I pray they will. This is all part of my lessons.  The not needing a timeline or guarantee of what's coming next.  

It's times like these that I wish I had a partner.  Someone to take charge when I'm feeling weak, someone to hold me when I'm crying, someone who will allow me to do the same for them.  Then I realize that I do.  He's just a prayer away and He knows how it's all going to turn out anyway.  I'm just along for the ride.  And what a ride it is <3