It is just over a week until Christmas. Like most R.W.’s, I’ve been hurtling towards the big day on Warp 10 Overdrive for several weeks. I haven’t had any available time to write, and for someone who finds sanity in words, that’s not a good thing. But here I am, spending several hours on a Sunday evening on a plane (more about that in a moment), with some forced sit and breath time, and it is making me consider what a wacky time of year this can be, and allowing me some time at the keyboard. I feel my heart rate calming already. It’s funny how such a magical, lovely season can be so filled with stress and exhaustion. Every year many of us RW’s vow that “next year will be different” that we “will simplify”, we will “start prepping earlier” and have “more relax time.” Hee hee, we make me giggle.
Then there’s the whole emotional side of the holidays, exaggerated of course by the aforementioned stress and exhaustion. This year for me has especially felt like a mixed bag of emotions, and I know I’m not alone. My older brother has had several health issues and hospital stays, our beloved pup is in his last days battling cancer, I’m fitting in a business trip right before Christmas, I still have some last bits of shopping and wrapping and cleaning to do, I’ve had a head cold, and oh yes, today happens to be the 26thanniversary of my mom’s passing. Yet on the flip side, I love my job, we will have a full house of family for Christmas, my son amazes me every day as he works his way through his Senior year of high school, and we have not only a roof over our heads, but a beautiful home that I love to decorate for the season.
Nearly every other RW I know is trying to carry around a mixed bag of challenges. Caring for elderly parents, coping with cancer, worrying about wayward loved ones, dealing with financial issues, mourning a loss, hosting a hoard of people for festivities… and yet all knocking themselves out to make the holidays special. Why? Because in the end it makes us feel better, and makes us feel like we are in control of our lives when so much we are carrying in that sack is out of our control.
We want our lives to resemble a Hallmark movie during the holidays with the amazing outfits, perfect scenes and happy endings, and we yearn to find the magic and wonder we felt as kids. Speaking of kids, we desperately want them to have an amazing Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza, filled with fun and traditions and family and memories. So we pick up that heavy bag and we keep hustling along, singing our favorite carol as we go. We remind ourselves what the holiday is truly about, and reprimand ourselves when we start to lose sight of that and get cranky or anxious.
The lesson I’ve learned, especially this year, is we have to all cut ourselves, and each other, some slack. There are many out there who are suffering in some way, and this is a very difficult time of year for them. We need to be sensitive to that, and lend a helping hand when we can. There are even more out there who are lugging that big mixed bag of issues, and we have to recognize that some days are joyful, filled with laughter and amusement, and other days are going to be deeply sad, frustrating and anxiety-inducing. We need to determine when it is ok to offer platitudes and quote the Grinch, and when it is better to say “it’s ok, you aren’t alone — and you’ll get through this.” We can offer to carry that big satchel, or better yet, lift out some of the heavy things and focus on the light fun ones.
My wish for all RW’s out there is that at some point, even if it is at midnight on Christmas Eve, or two days later when the hustle and bustle has settled down, that we all have a moment to just stop. To breathe out the bad, and breathe in the good. To admire the beauty and joy we’ve created. To hug loved ones. To think of each other, and this journey we travel together. Put down that heavy sack, pick up a cup o’ cocoa, put up our feet, and be thankful that we have this wacky, mixed bag life.