Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tis The Season...

When the holiday season rolled around this year, I remember thinking "Nope. No way. Not interested. No Christmas for me this year please." If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that 2013 has not been a stellar year in our household. There have been a few drastic changes since last winter. In fact, this is my first holiday season without my beloved dog Ritz. To say I wasn't looking forward to it is an understatement. I haven't worked full time since May so I wouldn't have nearly the same amount of funds to spend on presents as I have previously. My brain could come up with all sorts of reasons that Christmas would be awful. However despite my best efforts at ignoring it December arrived anyway, in all it's bright cheerful glory.

Typically at this time of year I'm gritting my teeth to get through my To Do list one item at a time, until it's January and things go back to normal. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a "Christmas person". I'm an only child from a small family and while I certainly recall that Christmas was fun as a kid, it's never been a huge fancy deal for me. I said that to someone recently and she replied "Are you a Christmas hater?!" Woah, I definitely wouldn't go that far! I like the idea of Christmas time, just not the actuality of it. I like all the special food, exchanging gifts and hanging colored lights on the house. What I don't like is the frantic feeling that comes with all the obligatory shopping, gift giving and socializing. There's always a lot to do in a short amount of time!

Each year my boyfriend and I trek into the mountains on our snow shoes and cut down a tree to bring home and decorate. While I have never loved the idea of a live tree in my living room, it's one of the traditions we are making as our own. I was fully prepared to make the trip again this year as a part of my own process of moving forward without Ritz. We couldn't go last weekend due to dangerous sub zero temperatures and this week my other half is battling the illness I had a couple weeks ago. I could feel how heavy his heart was when he admitted to me that we probably wouldn't be able to go get a tree this year. While I was secretly dancing a jig inside, I never like to see someone I love be sad so I thought of a compromise and went searching for the small fake tree I knew was tucked away someplace in our house. It was high on a shelf in a closet where it's sat in its dusty box since before Reggie & I were even dating. I put it up this weekend and hung our smallest ornaments on it's flexible plastic branches. It's definitely not the same as a big live tree but it still feels Christmasy.

Last year's tree
This year's tree

Unexpectedly, putting up that little tree started a chain reaction of holiday spirit in me. Once I got it decorated I was even inspired to hang some lights around the living room window and put a wreath on the front door. On Sunday I spent the entire day with a friend, baking and cooking like maniacs until we had her kitchen  covered with cooling racks and colored frosting! After I put together plates of goodies for some friends, I decided to dig out greeting cards to attach to the plates. As I was filling out the cards I started thinking of other people in my life who deserve a card and a note of thanks. Handing out those cards and treats this week has been pretty powerful for such a small gesture. Everyone appreciates knowing they are thought of and most people I know like cookies too! For me, finding a way to show my gratitude that was within my means was incredibly important and left me feeling more comfortable and hopeful about my current circumstances.

Going through tough times this year made me acutely aware of the people and circumstances in my life that are positive. While part of my heart is still sad and grieving for Ritz, the rest of it is full of joy and love for the sweet puppy I have for his first Christmas with us. My loved ones rallied around me when I was low and celebrated with me when I reached new milestones. My mom also lost a wonderful dog this summer and has a new puppy. I'm looking forward to visiting her more than I have in as long as I can remember. Introducing our pups will be fun!

My two dogs with Santa this year
So, during the times I catch myself thinking "I can't wait until this year is over", I stop and take a deep breath. Even though my life is different than it was a year ago, it's simpler. The people who are in my life now are there because I have actively chosen to maintain those relationships. I might not be working full time but when I do go to work at a temp job, I'm happy to be there. I don't have any co-workers to bicker with or a staff party to arrange that no one actually wants to attend. I'm not going to visit my family because I feel obligated to but because I want to spend time with them and give the few special gifts I've bought. Instead of feeling like Christmas is about obligation, today I feel like it's more about opportunity. Because my life has changed so much this year, I'm quite aware that by this time next year it could all be altered again. It makes me hug my friends and listen patiently to my mom repeat a story. I still wouldn't call myself a "Christmas person" but who knows if that might change by next year!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got into the Christmas spirit a little. Nice cookies.