This year has been a rough Christmas for me. I won't go into depressing details, but the Holiday Malaise hit me hard. But therapy seems to be working and making me a stronger person willing to address my needs, so this year I gave myself the best gift ever. I gave myself the gift of simplicity.
Hubby has three church members who have separate mysterious, undiagnosable and possibly terminal illnesses. He has not been home much since the nearest big hospitals are an hour away in a different state. He's been going back and forth to three different hospitals AND working extra hours to create a meaningful Advent season for the church. As a result, the season preparations have fallen to me and E to do by ourselves. Instead of going out and getting a large real tree for the living room we are never in (as we have done every year), we bought a smaller, skinny fake one that fits in our tiny family room. I'm not normally a fan of fake, but it was so easy. I still baked 6 dozen cookies, but instead of making them all from scratch, I bought the pre-cut refrigerator cookies AND I didn't bake anything else for the shut-ins. Instead I took all of the sugary treats my preschool parents made me and split them up for Hubby to take and share. That way they didn't destroy my diet and I didn't drive myself crazy by trying to add one more thing to my already packed schedule.
Instead of buying tons of presents for each other, we decided we wanted to spend our money on going away to a cabin in the middle of the state this week. E still got a few gifts from Santa, but then we set a $15.00 limit per person. I am so looking forward to getting away (as long as the hospital people stay out of ICU). We are meeting some friends who have two daughters around E's age at the cabin and I am finally going to get to talk to a girlfriend. Plus, the husband is one of Hubby's best friends and also a pastor, so you can imagine how much bitching is going to occur.
But the best gift I gave myself this year was refusing to allow my parents to come up for Christmas. Unless snow prevents us from driving the 5 hours to their house, we are going to leave right after church tomorrow and go to our old town and spend a belated holiday with them. Which leaves just the three of us here spending quiet family time together. I didn't realize just how much I struggle with people here at Christmas. It doesn't matter if it is my parents or Hubby's, I become obsessive about creating the perfect Christmas for others and ruin my own. I gave myself the gift of no criticism this year. If I burn something, forget something, drop something, no one will care. If I am tired and just want to watch TV with E, no one will complain. I don't have to entertain, feed or worry over other people. E and Hubby wouldn't care if we just had tv dinners for Christmas. For the first Christmas in a long time, I can just breathe.
And lastly, (as weird as it may sound) for the first time in 17 years I gave myself the gift of a sports injury. Wednesday when I was doing a chest press on the Cybex machines, something in my chest popped and I had shooting pain. I stopped that exercise and continued with my workout. When I went back on Friday to do another weight workout I noticed a muscle in my chest was tender and swollen to the touch. Not enough to prevent me from working out, but enough to make me realize just how far I have come this year. I am damn proud of this muscle strain. It's symbolic to me. 6 months ago I was terrified of my back going out, or my neck twitching and I couldn't lift a thing. This Christmas I worked out so hard I popped something and went back for more. I call that a win.
So while I may be struggling through Christmas this year, I think I have a lot to be proud of...and thankful for. It's been a tough year, but I made it through. And I made it through by becoming a stronger, better, healthier person. Here's to 2011!
Merry Christmas...or as Charlitan says, Happy Holiday of your choice!