Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding the Spirit Anyway

I can't tell you how many times I have sat down at my computer over the past few weeks wanting to write.  Needing to write.  But the words don't come.  I don't know if I can explain why.

Maybe it's Mom Syndrome.  It's such a luxury to take the time to sit at my computer and pour my brain out, that it feels too selfish.  I sit here and think I should pay the bills.  I should put the laundry away.  I should exercise.  I should get the Christmas shopping done.  I should get some wrapping done.  I should cook something to feed my family.  I should CLEAN, for God's sake.  And when I sit here, alone with my brain and my keyboard, to write, that's all I do.  At least when I watch TV I can fold laundry or iron or wrap or dust or whatever at the same time.

Maybe it's just too emotional sometimes for me to write.  Maybe I fear that I don't have anything important to say, that nobody cares anyway.  Maybe it's a combination of all of this.

Whatever it is, here I am, again.  I'm writing anyway.  When I started this blog I did it for myself.  I still write for myself, so I need to not care if nobody else thinks it's important or even reads it.  I try not to worry about that, but there is a bundle of people out there that actually read this little blog, and I really want to make it worth their while.  It's an arrogant thing, really, to write a blog and ask people to spend their time reading what you say.  So thank you for indulging me.

Sandy Hook.  What a punch to the gut.  I cannot begin to comprehend what happened in Newtown, those babies.  Those parents.  Those families.  That town.  The devastation is something that is impossible to understand, yet we try anyway.  It could have been anywhere.  It could have been any of our babies.  It is affecting me, every minute of the day.  I have a constant stomach ache, and I know it's because I can't stop thinking about the horror.  There is no right answer, no logical solution, because what happened is not logical.  There are steps we can take to try to feel safer.  We can talk to our kids and help them feel safe.  We can argue about gun control, mental health, politics.  But the thing that really shakes us, that nobody really talks about, is that there is no real way to protect people from this kind of horror sometimes.  This can be an evil world.  We just have to do our best to survive it, and try to remember that the world is also a beautiful place, filled with love and peace.

I will put these families in my prayers every night.  I will ache for them over this Christmas.  But while I do that I will live my life, even though it feels a little bit wrong.

It's Tuesday.  A week from today is Christmas Day.  A Very Merry Christmas to all of you.  I'd love to know how you all are doing this year!  My preparations have been slower than normal this year.  Thanks in part to the late start due to my hysterectomy, but also because I am not hosting the family this year at all.  Add that to the trauma in Newtown, and it's been a little more difficult this year for even me to maintain my Christmas spirit.  I channeled Buddy the Elf this morning, in an effort to get my sparkle back.  I was alone at home, so I figured, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."  I plugged my iPod into the radio in the bathroom and sang along to Christmas songs in the shower as loud as I could, got dressed, put on my sparkliest Christmas jewelry, and got a few presents wrapped.  It really did help.

You know what else helps?  All the lovely Christmas cards that come in the mail every day!  I swear, they bring me more joy than presents.  I absolutely LOVE all of them.  The old-fashioned greeting cards, some even just with a signature, no note, no picture.  Long letters filling me in about what's happening in the lives of people that I maybe haven't seen in a while.  Pictures showing me how big everyone's kids are getting, or how nobody other than me seems to age.  Ha!  I treasure each and every one, and the fact that somebody keeps me on their list.  And maybe it's old fashioned, the whole Christmas card thing, but here's why they mean so much to me:

We send out Christmas cards.  I don't do a long letter.  Mostly because I'm sort of lazy, and I'm so open on Facebook and my blog that my cards would seem redundant.  I used to take a family picture, make lots of prints, and enclose it in an old-fashioned card that I would sign.  I recently switched to the new-fangled photo cards where you can design them on line, pick them up at the store, and send them out.  I made the switch to those simply because they're cheaper.  Envelopes are even included!  Anyway.  When I sit down to sign them, stuff the envelopes, address and stamp them, I think about every single person or family that I send one to.  Whether it's on purpose or not, I do.  I remember a moment or two that we shared.  I wonder how they're doing.  I hope they're happy.  I admire their cute kids.  I spend a moment with them, in a way.  And if that's what happens when others fill out their cards, then that means that the card I'm opening in my kitchen is filled with more than just a photo and a name.  It's a greeting, a little love.  And I devour it.  It feeds my spirit.  So thank you to those of you that send them, whether I'm on your list or not.

So here's to another beautiful holiday season.  I hope we all can put the families that are in pain this year in our prayers and our hearts, and have a happy Christmas through any tears we may shed.  It felt good to write this evening.  I feel calm, I feel like I've had a successful visit to my therapist.  If you read this, thank you.  And feel free to prod me if you feel like I'm hiding from you again.  I need this outlet.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hellooooooo World!!!

Just over 4 weeks since the surgery, and I am pretty much back to my normal self!  Still putting up with some restrictions, and still waiting for the disfiguring swelly belly to go down, but other than that I'm back!

Hellooooooo World!!!

It has been a crazy month, folks.  The Christmas Season is officially upon us, and I have vowed to be present in all of it, and breathe every sparkling moment in.  My house is pretty much decorated, but I have some finishing touches yet, and I still have to do the deep clean.  The restrictions on my still-healing body make that difficult, but not impossible.

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.  I know we did.  It really was one for the record books.  We went up to a ginormous old log cabin that my mom rents out for the whole pile of us.  There were 26 family members there this year, and it was Heaven to be with them all for three whole nights.  It was loud and peaceful at the same time.  We had the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever eaten.  We not only decided to do an ugly Christmas sweater contest, but every single person there participated, and wore their sweater the Entire.  Day.  This proved my self-held theory that we all secretly LOVE the Christmas sweater, and if there were not such a social stigma attached to them, we would all be wearing them.  I know I will be wearing mine more this year.  Even if it is in the privacy of my own home because I'm not sure the hubby wants to be seen with me in it.  So there, Miss Ebony, you had me pegged!

One of the best things I took away from the little excursion was a renewed love for extended family.  I obviously love my family, but there are things I tend to take for granted.  I am blessed to be near a large extended pool of kin, and I see them all regularly.  So regularly, in fact, that I think I forget how special it is.  But one of the nights up at the cabin, I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. chatting with my aunt, my cousin, and my brother.  About everything and nothing at the same time.  It felt so good to be with them.  Not worried about how I look or what I say, safe in the knowledge that they love me no matter what.  And not even aware that I felt so safe or why, just comfy and cozy with them.  And how remarkable it is to know that there are people in your life that love you like that for no reason.  It's fun to talk about the past with extended family, get different but related viewpoints and stories, or complete holes in your knowledge of your own heritage that you didn't even know were there.  It was just really cool.

Except for the fact that we were up waiting for one of my cousins to get back from the emergency room where he was getting stitches on his middle finger from a pecan pie incident...

It really was a great, memorable time.  My boys brought a buddy which made it even better for them, and my hubby had no work conflicts this year, so having him there made it perfect.  Already looking forward to next year.

So I am in full-on, manic Christmas mode now.  I have started my Christmas shopping, slowly.  Many of you who are aware of my obsession with Christmas may be surprised that I am not one of those people that get all my shopping done neatly and calmly before the month of December is upon us, but no, no, no.  You see, I have such a love for all things Christmas that I EMBRACE the insanity of Christmas shopping.  Part of my joy is waiting to make sure that the stores are decorated before I do my Christmas shopping.  I need to make sure that the coffee shops are serving the Christmas drinks.  Like the Fa la la la la la latte at Caribou.  I need to wear a Santa hat when I shop.  I want the stores to be a bit busier.  Christmas music over the loudspeakers.  Bell ringers at the kettles outside the doors.  And if possible, snow in the parking lots.  That makes it perfect.

I have (mostly) decorated my house.  This is a bit of a sticky wicket for me this year.  I can't lift anything 20 pounds or heavier yet.  You'd be amazed how much that limits me.  But I'm working around it.  I have slowly been working through my bins, getting all the regular stuff out.  This is a monumental chore each year, as I have around 50 bins of Christmas decorations.  Seriously.  I am not exaggerating.  Hubby says I have a disease.  I jingle when I walk this time of year!  But in the spirit of full disclosure, I have never used every single item.   There are a few bins of lights that might not make it out, maybe some garland I didn't have a place for, maybe a few damaged items I don't have time to fix or the heart to discard.  But the majority of the collection gets displayed.  And my hubby has some Clark Griswold in him, believe me!  He loves exterior lighting, and me, enough to actually drive his lifter out so he can put lights in the trees higher than the house!  I love that man.

Okay this is getting way too long.  I could go on and on about this junk, but I'll save it for another day.

Just one more thing--

Yesterday I was in the car, and I had an experience that I have many times a year during the Christmas season.  From Thanksgiving on, I pretty much only listen to Christmas music.  I have a ridiculous collection of it, and it truly is my little soundtrack.  I have many versions of "Oh Holy Night".  And several of them get me.  Along with a couple of my versions of "Little Drummer Boy".  And by get me, I mean all the way into my core.  I start with goose bumps, move to having difficulty singing along because I'm getting emotional, and end up actually crying.  Because I feel it.  I feel that Jesus really is the reason for the season.  And I am deeply grateful for Him and for this gift of Christmas.  And "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful."  I am so comfortable and so happy celebrating this season with my glitter, my red and green draped all over my house, my shopping, my singing, my baking, my general good mood and too much food and cocktails.  This is a season for celebrating the birth of Jesus, and that is a JOYFUL occasion.  It is a time for generosity and for giving.  For loving your family and friends and singing for no reason.  Smiling at strangers and over-tipping your servers.  Believing in Santa.

And wearing ugly beautiful Christmas sweaters.