Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Senses.

I have this habit of standing up for people I don’t actually know in stories. I can’t decide if the habit is horrible or amazing. If someone is telling a story, for example, of someone cutting them off in traffic and how angry it made them, my instant reaction is usually something to the tune of; “maybe they were rushing to the hospital to see a loved one who was just brought in from falling out of a tree, or they didn’t see you because they were so tired from working a double volunteer shift at the homeless shelter, or they were running late for their first day on a new job.”

When a friend is on hold with Dell for 27 minutes before getting help to solve a computer problem, I am most likely to pipe up with, “maybe they are evacuated because of a fire and no one is there to answer the phone.” I defend people. And I am guessing it gets pretty annoying. Because sometimes you just want to vent to someone, and let them listen and nod and know that you were “done wrong.” Apparently I am not the person to vent to; apparently, I defend people.

I guess I’ve always tried to have a bit of optimism available in the back pocket of my jeans. I’m the kind of girl that loves a page-a-day calendar filled with quotes on kindness, believes in the power of the people, and has once declared that “Sprinkles make the world a happier place.” (but seriously- don’t they?) So I should have found it no surprise that in the last few months, everyone seems to keep telling me they admire, appreciate, or are surprised by my optimism post broken-engagement.

I keep getting emails and blog comments and text messages and cards in the mail (oh how I LOVE those- real mail is quite possibly the best day brightener there is) that suggest I am optimistic. That praise me for being strong, and continuing to chase and find happiness throughout the last five months. Words that lift me up and make me feel all warm and fuzzy for handling a bad situation a good way.

The problem arises, however, on days I feel less than optimistic. On days I feel sad and lonely. I don’t want pity and I don’t want sympathy, but I want freedom from this.

It came to me during Thanksgiving weekend. I had a great four day weekend. I ate my pizza, and brownies topped with peppermint stick ice-cream. I spent time relaxing and reflecting on what I was thankful for and watching my favorite Holiday time movie. I thought about Christmas, and what makes me feel cheerful this time of year. And then I tasted something bitter.

I started receiving concerned text messages from parties who thought I would be feeling sad, and lonely, and wanted to check in to make sure I was okay. I felt just fine until reading these. I was chipper. I was excited for the holiday season. I was listening to Holiday Music CDs, and trying to decide how big of a tree to get. I put out a few decorations, and started my Christmas cards, and read a bit of Luke 1, and was ready for a Holly Jolly Christmas- but then, suddenly, and almost as if it had been there all along and it was just waiting to be uncovered, I felt the sadness seep in. And the loneliness creep in. And Then Heather Said, “I want to go HOME. I want this all to GO AWAY.”

And the optimism went out the window. Along with the Christmas cheer.

I no longer want a tree. And Christmas music made me cringe. And I didn’t want to watch Love Actually on TV. I just wanted it to be over.

The past week, I have kept searching for the cheer.
Is it in a box of Christmas Decorations at the office? Nope, it’s not there.
Is it near the brightly colored, cardboard tree cutouts that I have adored in Radio Shack? Nope, not even hiding in the corner by the shiney stuff.
Is it found at the bottom of my to-go cup filled with peppermint mocha? Negative.
How about when the snow started to flurry Tuesday morning outside my office window? OH, HELL NO.

I didn’t want any of it, and then I realized that it was okay.
I had a realization that it was okay to be sad and lonely. It was okay to be homesick, and long for the 23rd of December when I will be with my family in Texas. It’s okay to “just sit this one out.” And to go through the motions and not feel the cheer, no matter how weird it feels. I realized that it is okay to be the Grinch, as long as I didn’t let it take over my life.

And then it happened. I decided to bake. It’s like I had Isabel Stevens disorder and baking took away the pain. I decided to bake 25 different kinds of cookies to precede Christmas. And I started sifting flour, and beating egg whites, and rounding the dough into balls. And I caught myself humming. I caught myself humming a CHRISTMAS CAROL.

And I started thinking about what I’ll be giving to my Bloggie Secret Santa. And I did research for some gift-giving blog posts I plan on sharing soon. And I kept finding things PERFECT for everyone I know. And I remembered that it’s more about the giving than the receiving. And I remembered that’s what I love about it. Its not about me, or feeling loved, or feeling the warmth of a friend; its about you, and giving love, and giving the warmth of a friend.

And I got an early surprise gift, when a dear friend called me last night to share some wonderful news. And I giggled with her. And we celebrated through love and laughter and truth and friendship- though miles away. And my heart started to fill with joy for her.

And I came to work. And a coworker asked me if I would do him a favor and wrap some Christmas Gifts. And I SQUEALED. Because wrapping gifts is on my top five favorite parts of Christmas. And I remembered I had a list of my top five favorite parts of Christmas.

Suddenly I could smell it- Christmas. Cinnamon and freshly fallen snow and ribbons tied in bows. Evergreen and savory vanilla and the smell of my dads leather chair.

Suddenly I could hear it- Christmas. The crunch of cookies and bells telling of angels wings and the crinkling of paper. Reindeer prancing on the roof and jolly, rolling laughter and the clinking of ice cubes dancing into a glass, awaiting the liquid cheer.

It wasn’t until I accepted the mourning over what this Christmas could have been.
It wasn’t until I accepted the longing to be with loved ones.
It wasn’t until I accepted the Grinch who had appeared.
But it came. And it’s here.
Christmas time is here, and my heart is full.


  1. I love this, and you.

    Christmas time sucks for me this year and somehow your vivid description of Christmas just gave me chills all over.

    I just love how upbeat you force yourself to be. It is very inspiring, as always.

  2. Love this post, and I'm glad you're back in the Christmas spirit.

    And I think that should actually be called the "Isabel Stevens disorder." :)

  3. This almost made me cry. I really find something magical about Christmas. I'm glad you got the spirit back.

  4. I love this. You have to feel the rain to be able to see the rainbow... It IS ok if you want to "sit this one out" but it is also wonderful if you're ready to celebrate! :)

  5. I am happy to know I am not the only one who defends people, for no apparent reason. I do this to my husband sometimes when he is telling a story. I would hate that! I work on not doing it so much - sometimes you just need to vent!

    It's okay to not be optimistic all the time! That is too fake and draining. And the holidays are a roller coaster of emotions! I am happy you were able to find the cheer. Baking definitely does it to me too!

    (P.S. Just found your blog today... someone linked to your post about blogger gifts. Darn! Now I can't remember who it was!)


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