It is sometime in December as I write this. It is before Christmas, and one of those nebulous days between the 15th and 24th that I just try to ignore the actual date of so that I don't freak myself out by how close to the final countdown I actually am at any given point in time. I realize that this is a mind game that I play with myself...but since I'm the only participant and the referee...I think it is okay. At least I hope so. From a purely mental health standpoint, that is.
I've spent the past twelve months with full knowledge that Christmas comes on December 25th every year. Not one of those "floating" holidays like Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Memorial Day or the bank holidays that I'm grateful for...but half of the population doesn't receive. Wait. I really need to rethink that in light of our unemployment rate...but you know what I mean. I act like it is some big surprise every year that I have to rush around preparing for...when I've had plenty of time to get it taken care of...but haven't prioritized it all properly.
I know that I have about four or five activities that I'm going to do every year...and pretty much when those activities are going to fall. I am blessed to be invited to share the Christmas joy with several different groups...and now it almost doesn't feel like Christmas if I don't get to participate in some of these. I mean...for some of you...it isn't Christmas without the Living Christmas Tree or the church cantata. You aren't happy unless the Hallmark Channel is on 24/7 and you've seen the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special." Or perhaps, you have to bake certain items, see specific people, and decorate in a particular manner. Even if you don't feel like it, it has "jumped the shark" so to speak, or you grumble about it but do it anyway.
But this year...I am having a butt dragging, head cold surviving, empty wallet, slightly humbug Christmas. Which totally sucks, by the way. (Note: I do not normally condone the term "sucks" as a general rule...but some things do kind of breach from "eh" to "sucky" and we just need to call them what they are. I do realize that I could have used more graphic terms like "blow goats" - but that would offend my sweet friend, Andrea, who has a particular affection for goats as she is raising them. I could also opt for "bites the big one" but I think that's worse than "sucks" - so "sucks" it is. And Mom, if you are reading this...I'll save you the time to e-mail...I know that I was raised better.)
Some years are like that. You stand in line for everything from stamps to boxes to checkout. People steal your parking place...and your joy. You wipe the sweat from your forehead (in DECEMBER) and deal with checkout clerks who don't even bother to wish you a "Merry Christmas" because to them you are one more problem that they have to get through so that they can go home and get off of their feet. Your poinsettia dies. The Christmas tree skirt is christened - twice - by your new-ish shih tzu.
At least that's been my experience this season.
I have a friend who tells me that I cannot fail to enjoy Christmas if I am in attendance at the church's Christmas cantata. I've also been told (at least ten times) that it is a "Christmas music program" and not a "cantata" - but if it involves singing, is a program and is at the church...it is a cantata. Kind of like I don't differentiate between makes and models of cars outside of "SUV, sedan, van, and sportscar." I realize how hard these folks work to put on this program, and how fortunate we are to have a wealth of talent at our church. And every time that I've gone...I've enjoyed it. But I have to space out my attendance a little bit or else it becomes just one more thing that I have to do...rather than something that I want to do.
This year, I had the hacking cough that would come on explosively and embarassingly at random times...and thought that it was probably best that I stay at home. I mean, nothing says "rude audience member" more than hacking all through a performance or falling asleep and snoring because the medicine decided to have the opposite effect than intended. Except possibly what my friend, Jackie, posted last night about the mother of all rude people...a woman who set up a tripod in the center of the auditorium so that she could film her child's Christmas concert. Never mind the other parents that were sitting behind this struggling to see their children through or around this thing. So, this year...no Christmas music...other than the Christmas radio station that I keep on in my office when I'm not listening to Rush Limbaugh.
Okay, Mom, roll your eyes. It's fine.
I suppose that I have found that this year my heart is heavy for families that I know are missing loved ones this year. Our family is missing my sweet mother-in-law, Barbara. And on a smaller note, I am missing my nine year old shih tzu/yorkie mix, Rebel. Yes, I have Riley to entertain and delight me...but I miss my little faithful friend. The news from Connecticut didn't help matters...nor do reports from Washington D.C. that make me wonder if we will make it through the next four years or not without having another national divide like the Civil War. I was in a "Facebook fight" with the wife of a family member this week, and I apparently made her so angry over the subject of gun control (technically, my refusal to discuss it until the funerals in Connecticut were over) that she "defriended" me. Of course, I did the same thing last month to a former sorority sister who put some very inappropriate comments regarding race on there and then attacked me for having an opinion. And trust me when I tell you that I almost always have an opinion. About just about everything.
These kind of things can really bring you down for the holidays.
So can having a head cold. I believe that Christmas spirit was leaking out of me along with...well, whatever. Know someone who is annoyingly chirpy? Well, just drop a flu virus at their house and watch the fun-o-meter drop from "I can't WAIT until Christmas!" to "Please wake me when it is over" at the drop of a Santa hat. Such is my lot this year. I was so looking forward to a pleasant season in this year of extra days - the year that Thanksgiving falls as early as it possibly can - on November 22nd. And I got an excellent start, too. Had my Christmas cards out before December 1st even.
But I couldn't get the one package I had to mail off on its merry way until last Saturday. Hope it arrives in time.
I've made my share of spinach dip, have already gotten one Dirty Santa gift that I hate, and I have the 2012 ornaments on the tree (thank you, Jamie at J. Mitchell Art - [and if you haven't checked her out on Facebook...you totally should]) and I have enough festive events ahead of me to make me feel all warm and cozy. (The warm part is because of this stubbornly mild December and some lingering hormonal issues that will not be discussed in detail here, of course.)
My tree is lovely...probably one of the prettiest we have ever brought home from the lovely Christmas tree lot at Home Depot (Big Dave's "home away from home.")...and it doesn't look like it could burst into flames at any second spontaneously and without provocation like the one last year did before we even put it in the stand. All of the presents are bought, tagged, wrapped, and under the tree or organized in a way that I can actually find what I need when I need it for distribution to various parties over the coming week. We've had a precious girl (Brecksyn) visiting us...and I've had some great quality time with Jill at the gym...even if she makes me go back and do cardio with her a second time with her although I've done my own cardio so that I can get it over with before I lose my resolve. (Frankly, I could do cardio nonstop from now until 2014, and I'd still be morbidly obese...so it's fine.) I've also had some pretty marvelous Christmas cookies from the kitchen of my friend, Michelle, in Macon, Georgia (who could manage to find the post office a whole lot better than I could, thankfully.)
It is raining outside as I write this...and I am on vacation. Normally these two things shouldn't go hand in hand without gnashing of teeth..and most people (especially those who are tropical location or beach bound) would be whining but I honestly couldn't care less about that right now. I'm sitting here in my robe and pink Crocs and have nothing on the agenda other than going to the gym tonight and attending a branch (where I work) party later on...if I'm up to it. Oh, yeah, and take the two grandcats and Riley to the vet for a shot (Riley), a free check up (for the new shelter cat, Taylor) and a nail clipping for both cats so that they don't draw blood as they try to "bond" in their new household. Granted, this rain means that I will have to do puppy pad duty on steroids today...but other than that...it is fine.
I'm hoping that I can capture some Christmas spirit today. Of course, I could always follow the lead of my hilarious friend (who shall remain nameless) who texted me the following yesterday: "Instead of struggling with holiday spirit, I just went to the ABC store and 'bought' some."
Well, you go girl. :)
I think that I'm going to spend today just praising God for all of the things that have gone right this Christmas. For the time I've had to enjoy my friends and family. That we have a legacy of love in Dave's family that means that I'll see his sweet Mama's spirit in the eyes of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. That my folks will be with me on Christmas morning...and that we will enjoy our little traditions and our present opening for another year...just as we have for the past several. That I'll cook myself into oblivion beginning today...although I'm just starting out slowly with Christmas cookies and working my way up to two big meals. One of which I'll share with my friend Bonnie and her family...a tradition we've been observing since our girls were two years old (they are now 22).
Maybe I'll do 26 acts of kindness between now and the first of the year in memory of the children and teachers lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and try to make someone's day that I don't even know. I'll spend some time reflecting on the gift I have as a Christian living in the Southern United States surrounded by people who love me at best...and tolerate me at worst. That in spite of being way overweight...I am still pretty healthy otherwise. The bills for December are paid. The lights are on. The food in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator overfloweth.
Yes, I am blessed.
I am also blessed by having people who will actually pull up this page and read my rambling thoughts. Who think something that I might write is meaningful, or funny, or just entertaining. If you do...please click one of the buttons below. They should work even if you don't follow the blog. Just want to know that you are out there. In fact, if it is more than 26...I'll do that many acts of kindness in your honor. As a thank you for just being out there.
Merry Christmas to you.