Over the course of my almost 40 years on this earth, I have come to realize that “the Holidays” can bring me an extreme amount of joy and also an extreme amount of anxiety and then everything in between. It always changes from year to year, moment to moment.
I love that song “Where are you Christmas”… from the movie the Grinch.
When this song came out it was 2000, I was happily married with 2 boys, ages 4 and 6. During the early 2000’s my life felt like it was almost perfect. We moved into a new house in 1999, my kids were over the baby/toddler stage, and I was really starting to enjoy the holidays because my kids still believed in Santa Claus, had room parties at school that I got to attend, and they made me cute little homemade ornaments from their school that made my heart soar.
It all brought back the happy memories from my childhood of when I believed in Santa Claus. It was an exciting time. I felt like I finally arrived at the pinnacle of adulthood, where I was married, had the kids, the house, the life that i loved.
But….. life is kind of funny…. it changes. ALL THE TIME, whether you were ready for it or not. “My World is changing, I’m rearranging”. (can you hear the tune from Faith Hill?)
Fast forward to 2005, fall of 2005 to be exact, when my husband of almost 10 years and I decided to divorce.
That Christmas I learned the art of “just getting through this”. I barely remember that year. Although I have pictures of all the presents we got the kids, and the parties we went to. But there was a deep void, and loss of the ‘feeling’ of the season, a deep deep sadness that made everything a blur.
The next year, after being divorced for a year, and just moved into a new condo with my kids, I really wanted to find the “joy” again. It wasn’t natural, or easy though. I dreaded trying to put up a tree by myself. So, instead of my usual 9 foot tree from years past…. I opted for a really easy 5 foot tree, that was artificial and pre-lit. Target, $50, perfect.
Since my kids were in middle school at this point, their interest in decorating the tree had severely dwindled. I also had a really hard time getting into the holiday spirit myself… so I just winged it. I threw up the little 5 foot tree, put some decorations on it and called it good. I didn’t force the kids to decorate with me, I let them play on their video games while I “did the deed”. They were happy and that’s all that mattered to me then.
The season seemed to fly so fast, like it always does…. and I was tired, and just wanted my house clean and things “back to normal” as soon as possible after the holidays. I was proud that I got through that holiday season single, but it was exhausting. When December 26th came, I just decided to put a big trash bag over the tree and take it to the basement. Done and Done.
Moving on to the next year… I was still single, and finding my groove a little more, however my kids still were no longer into the decorating deal.
So, for the holiday season for 2007 I announced that we were going to decorate… which was met with groans and complaints. So I just went downstairs got my little 5 foot tree that was still decorated for last year with the trash bag over it. I dragged it upstairs, whipped off the trash bag…. poured myself a glass of wine, then plugged it in. Hallelujah, Amen… Merry Christmas. My kids laughed and I was happy that it took minimal effort.
Ever since, I have joyously let go of all the crazy expectations we have of the season, and I do what makes me and my family happy. Whatever that might be. Some years it’s full on cookie making, tree decorating, Christmas cartoon show watching…. but other years it’s just a simple glass of wine with a little pre-made tree while watching the snow silently fall outside.
Every year in life is different. I’ve learned to appreciate what is for this year and let go of any need to be what I was last year.
We have all changed this year. We grew up, we got married, we had a baby, we lost someone we loved, we changed careers, we moved out, we divorced, we went to college, we had an accident, we had rough spot in our marriage, our kids became teenagers…. the list goes on and on of what changes from year to year.
My advice is to keep it simple. Do what feels good. Just simple Be.