Are you still with me? Okay.
Christmas is definitely not the "most wonderful time of the year" for a lot of us. This is the time of year when we miss those who are no longer with us, we ache for broken relationships and feel acutely the strain of others. It's an overwhelming time of year for introverts (and procrastinators) like me and I quickly get to the point when I'm asking the Hubs "are you sure we can't just skip the whole thing?"
I have just a couple encouraging words - for me as much as for anybody else.
Remember I am not alone. This time of year is hard for a lot of us. It's hard for me to see the other people who are struggling because we are usually either a) avoiding everyone and everything as much as possible or b) pretending that we are fine. But really, chances are, that girl in the check out behind me is wondering how she is going to get through another holiday season and that guy who sat behind me at church is counting the days until it's over and we can all get back to business as usual.
Someone has just moved to a new town. Someone is trying to get through their first Christmas since a big loss. Someone is wondering how in the world they are going to pay for anything special this year when they can barely pay the bills. Someone is stuck away from home. Someone has lost their home. This time of year it is hard not to get sucked in and stuck there in those difficult emotional/mental places, but this year I am trying to remember that despite how I feel I am not alone with this struggle.
Stop trying to compete. I have this inner ideal self that I often judge against my current mess. Or I compare the way my family celebrates the holidays with how I remember them as a child, or how I see other people celebrating. This year I am going to stop it, or at least try to catch myself when I get trapped in competition. I am not going to let the fear of imperfect or less-than keep me from doing anything at all.
Pick one thing. So maybe I won't get to everything on my list - what is one thing I can do? Okay - I'm going to do that. Maybe it's one tradition I want to start or maintain, or one thing I've been meaning to do for awhile but never seem to get to. Maybe it's one thing today, or one thing this week, or one this this season. Pick one thing. This year I'm going to try to get together with some of my best friends: that is my one thing.
It's not all about me. That's the biggie for me. At some point I've got to get over myself, pick myself up, dust myself off out in my big girl panties and do what will make someone else happy. It's easy, really deceptively easy, for Christmas to become an entirely selfish time of year. I want to fix that awesome breakfast (for the satisfaction it gives me to pull off that holiday recipe) I want to give that perfect gift (so that friend will like my gift best), I want to decorate just so (because those pictures will look so awesome on Facebook) but if I can get over myself and remember it's not all about me - I've taken a big step away from the gloom that shrouds this season. From filling a shoebox to go far away, to sponsoring a child at your local school, from buying a goat for a child around the world to buying a mocha for a friend who could use some cheering up. Volunteering time, donating to the local food bank. Just stopping to look my kids in the eye, wrap my arms around them and treasure them and get unstuck on myself.