This Christmas will be better

End of November.

Thanksgiving has passed.

Onto the next holiday — Christmas.

Leading up to Thanksgiving I’ve been dreading the cold and snow. But now that I am getting used to the shorter, darker days and I’ve had my turkey, I can feel the Christmas spirit wrapping its arms around me. The thought of snow doesn’t seem so chilling anymore. Rather, it seems right. ’Tis the season to pull out the sleds.

I had a peaceful Thanksgiving Day with my family, followed by a trip to my hometown. My anxiety levels were relatively low, and I enjoyed my time with my mother, brothers and extended family. My oldest brother and I went on a familiar hike together that we haven’t done in years. It’s something we always liked to do, but life has gotten busy since we both got married and started families. Hiking with him as the snow fell, creating a pretty white coating on the trees in the woods, was time well spent. We checked in with each other. He told me about what’s been going on at his job and some travel he’s done. I talked to him about the progress I have made mentally over the last year, in terms of healing. We took a picture part way through the walk documenting our hike with big smiles and winter hats. I was so glad to reconnect with him.

This afternoon my daughter and I hung up some twinkly lights as we start transitioning from November to December. I am excited to turn them on this evening when it gets dark and feel all the feels, related to both Jesus and Santa, that (usually) arise during this time of year.

Last year my Christmas sucked. I spent Christmas Eve crying on the floor of my bedroom, drinking beer and sad-talking to my husband. It was awful. I hardly slept that night after being ‘Santa’ and on Christmas morning I put on a smile with a big serving of depression underneath. I was supposed to cook Christmas dinner for my family, mother-in-law, mother and grandmother, but I fell apart after we did our stockings and spent several hours in our downstairs crying, my grandmother keeping me company. Everyone else stepped up and I didn’t lift one goddamn finger to get that dinner on the table. But it happened. Without me. Thank God. All I had to do was sit at the table when it was ready to let my kids know I was okay. To just sit and be part of something, even if I felt awful inside. Looking back I’ve had revelations about how I got to that place on Christmas Day. There was just so much going on in my head. No need to rehash at this time. I’ve mostly made sense of it, so just revisiting it a little to acknowledge, This Christmas will be better.

I can feel it.

I’m going to send out Christmas cards this year. Years ago when I was just out of college, cheerful, and acting all grown-up I sent cards out and continued to do so through one failed relationship. After that I quit sending them. Since I got married and had kids I have never sent them. But this year I am going to. My decision is largely because my kids had school pictures taken, and I’d like to mail some out to family and friends. May as well be in a Christmas card. I haven’t bought any yet, but it’s on the list. I don’t want to get too ambitious, but I am going to try to write 2-3 personal sentences in each card.

Also on the agenda this week is to make a list of people I need/want to buy gifts for and brainstorm gift ideas. Then I’m going to start shopping, strategically and as low-stressfully as possible. Last year I waited until the last-minute and got so overwhelmed that I over spent and felt no joy. This Christmas will be better.

I’m going to stay on top of all things festive. Christmas should be the best time of the year, and I am determined to keep mine SIMPLE and MEANINGFUL, which is key in my opinion . Then and only then can I concentrate on the type of Christmas I want to create for my family and I. In doing that, I’m going to shrink my scope and not get caught up in the frenzy and hoopla created by corporate America. Jesus doesn’t care about all of that and neither do I.

Today after I cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, did laundry and other household duties I let the kids hang up a few decorations. As I swept away November, the magic of the coming season started growing in their eyes. We’re going to roll out the rest of our decorations over the coming days. On December 1st I’m going to start playing Christmas music in the house and on the radio and have a holly jolly time singing along. Then it’ll be time to bake and craft and goddamnit I am going to bring joy into my heart and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

My mother-in-law arrives on December 20th. We’ll probably get our tree up the weekend before. I’ll have the house decorated and the presents wrapped; the cookies baked and the cards sent. On December 24th we’ll go to church and pray before we put out cookies for Santa.

For the last few days of November I have a bunch of emails to catch up on, phone calls to return and appointments to make and after I catch up on ‘business’ I’m moving into twinkly time, with a mindful approach on what is important. This Christmas will be better. 

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