The following is post from a blog about a full-time caregivers journey through a bucket-list. Ya … got a little off track … again. The home page explains further.
Well … I was all set to write a super, cheery Christmas post! I was looking for suitable pictures on Facebook and look who I found! … my alter ego, a young hip, beautiful, Leana Conway (spelled exactly like my name). Well … that roasted my chestnuts. Oh well, tis the season to be jolly not jealous! If she knew I have the gift to unclog any toilet, she would be jealous of me! … right?
Anyways … focus Leana …! Christmas can … be well … exhausting, over-hyped, fattening, disappointing, anxiety-filled, lonely, and it can break your budget. The holidays, while they are exciting, inevitably work like a mirror to your life, all the flaws, disappointments and sadness in our lives are suddenly more visible. Even admissions to mental health facilities see a spike at Christmas time, hmmm … I wonder if they take reservations?
It can be what it was supposed to be! Wondrous, magical, exciting, tasty and truly full of hope and joy!
I have been privileged to have experienced 51 Christmases. I also have my birthday on December 21 (winters solstice, we will get to that later), so December is a big month for me, thus, I have dubbed myself Cripples Drudge Queen of Christmas Merriment.
Don’t get me wrong, I have become a master like anyone masters anything … failure!
I have had some crappy Christmases. One involved the stomach flu mixed with a poorly timed addition of a new, adventurous dish, to our Christmas Eve menu, peanut butter pumpkin squash … Yaaaaaa, I can still taste it coming back up.
My worst Christmas experience, however, occurred on my first Christmas eve without my kids. Christmas is an emotional minefield for the divorced. Divorcing civilly requires a lot of flexibility, and although Christmas Eve was my favorite, I traded out for Christmas day because it would work out better for everyone. I felt so confident I was emotionally mature enough to handle this challenge. I had a great idea, Dennis and I would enjoy a romantic Christmas eve cheese fondue, (perhaps a little fondue and fondle) while the kiddies were at their Dad’s. What a great idea! I already had the cheese fondue kit in my pantry, clearly, this was a sign!
Christmas eve came, and I heated up the cheese and prepared the dipping items, Dennis got started while I was drinking hot mulled wine. To my surprise, Dennis did not look like he was enjoying the fondue? Hmmmpfff … honestly, these Georgia rednecks have no appreciation for the finer things in life! He said it tasted “unusual”, but kept eating, with a weird look on his face, but … he kept on shoveling the cheese in. I finally sat down and took a piece of deliciously fresh, crusty, french bread and dipped it into the gooey, bubbling cheese. WHAT THE HECK!!! The cheese tasted like someone’s sweaty old socks and smelled liked the kind of fart created by polishing off a bushel of Brussel sprouts and a bottle of whiskey! How could this be???, all you have to do is warm up the package! I fished the box out of the garbage and looked. It was 2005 and the cheese had expired in 1998!!! Oooppsss!
That means I had bought the cheese when I lived in Calgary Alberta! Sure enough, there was French and English on the package, how the hell did I miss that!!!! I had lived there for two years, moved to Nashville (with the cheese fondue box), lived there for 2 years, then I moved to Atlanta (with the cheese fondue box)and lived there in two different houses, bringing the cheese fondue box along for those two moves and then it sat in my pantry for 4 more years. Finally, I decided to crack open that sucker up for the inauguration of my first emotionally traumatic Christmas eve without my kids. Now the cheese had salty tears in it. Although, Dennis’ willingness to eat sock fart cheese to make me happy was touching (although everyone paid for it later … if you know what I mean …)
So, now I know what not to do. Here is a what I now do to create a truly cheery Christmas, despite the inevitable challenges. At our house our obstacles to enjoying the season to it’s fullest are, MS progressing, medical bills soaring, all my family is in Canada, and the travesty of no snow! When I was a little girl growing up on the freezing tundra of the Canadian prairies, I was so confused by the song “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” What on earth was a not white Christmas? Now I know … it’s bullshit!
How to Frolic through the Christmas season!
#1. Keep a secret with Jesus. Figure out something kind you can do, maybe a donation or an anonymous present. Be the hands of feet of Jesus for someone and keep it a secret from everyone but the birthday boy! No blabbing, it’s just between you two.
#2. Read a Christmas themed book during the season. To quote J.K. Rowling (all hail to the Queen), “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” If you need suggestions message me! There is nothing I love more than matchmaking people to books! If you have wee ones or grand wee ones you must read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, with them! It’s great for adults too!
#3. Find something that reminds you of when you were a child at Christmas. Maybe it’s a special food, or a smell, or a movie. For me, one of those nostalgia-inducing smells is the Peppermint cookies my Oma Defehr used to make. I had to order the special baking ammonia online, and my cookies tasted like peppermint flavored play-dough, but just the smell of them took me back. Back to when I was a little girl, and Christmas time seemed to last for ages. There was magic in the air, and I was guaranteed feet of white sparkly snow. Back before I was aware of real problems, and I didn’t have to buy gifts for one single person. Back when I just sat back and soaked in the season while the adults wore their asses out.
#4. Lower your expectations, in a healthy (not the world has gone to shit and I have no hope) sort of way. Aside from the faith side of Christmas, anything man-made is bound to disappoint, if you have unrealistic expectations. If your family member is an annoying git who loves to talk politics 353 days of the year, chances are … they will not disappoint, buy an air horn that you blast whenever politics comes up! If your Mom is a critical killjoy … well, ten gallons of spiked eggnog isn’t going to bring out her better side. So, work towards progress, not perfection.
#5. Have a releasing ceremony. As I said, December 21st is Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice is the moment on Earth when darkness as it’s it greatest in the northern hemisphere, as it is the longest night of the year. A perfect time to let go. A releasing ceremony is an ancient tradition where all the fear, hurts, and regrets of the year, are written down on a piece of paper and thrown into a fire. Let the flames take it all into the darkness. LET IT GO.
#6. Listen to (at least parts) of Handel’s Messiah. Over 500 hundred years ago, George Frideric Handel composed the 260-page oratorio in an astonishing 24 days! He described the experience as “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.”. He barely ate or slept and cried often while composing this masterpiece.
I cannot listen to the Hallelujah chorus without crying and truly feeling the Holy Spirit move over me. It is a communion between God and man through music. That’s what Christmas is “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:14
I chose to post this version of Handel’s Messiah the Hallelujah Chorus being performed in a food court because it echoes the real Christmas story. In a very average place, a greasy food court, a humble barn, God came down and made angels of us all.
So, there you have my humble suggestions. Go easy on yourself this Christmas, some years are better than others. Some years you cook and clean and spend hours looking for thoughtful inventive gifts, and it seems like no one really appreciates your efforts. You’re (I’m mostly talking to myself here) forgetting who your real audience is!. What would the Prince of peace want for Christmas… YOU TO BE FULL OF PEACE AND JOY!
I have looked all through the Bible and I haven’t found the verse that says Jesus came to induce anxiety, reckless spending, and family squabbles. Let’s do it right this year. The years fly by too quickly on the wings of dreams and worries, don’t let them soar by. This year, be extravagant with your love, kindness, and compassion. Spread Christmas spirit like this might be your last. Speaking for myself, I’m not going to be remembered as no half-assed jingler, my epitaph shall read “She jingled ALL THE WAY”!
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and a smashing New Year!
xoxox- Mummy, Auntie Lee-Lee, Goose, Lee-Lee Bear, or Tart