Mixed Bag

December is mixed bag, you guys. We SAY it’s about peace and goodwill, and then we race around buying gifts and busting our asses cooking giant pot roasts or something. Sometimes we lose the meaning in our great race to celebrate, and we often end up over-indulging, over-extending, and over-spending.

Many people (especially those of us who live in the darker, colder climates) suffer some seasonal depression at this time of year, too, because we think the holidays are “supposed” to be a certain way, and when they’re not, we’re hugely disappointed. We may be facing a first (or tenth) December without a loved one. We may be struggling to make ends meet and not able to do for our kids what we’ve done in the past. We may be far from home with no real plans for the holidays. There are all sorts of things that can get us down this time of year.

I can tell you it’s hard for me this time of year. From Thanksgiving all the way to mid-January, my little family has not only the major holidays but multiple birthdays, and my kids are experiencing their third Christmas without their dad living with us. You think it’s going to get easier, and I suppose on some level it does, but it brings a kind of melancholy into your life that you don’t expect to keep showing up. People move on and keep going, but the scars are there no matter how much healing you think you’ve done. And for so many reasons, it hurts just a little bit more at the holidays.

I realized the other day that I was just pissed and aggravated and missing my family in Florida. And instead of trying to shove it down, I decided to just own it. I walked around that day crying when I needed to, cussing when I needed to, and then straightening my butt up in the evening for my kids because honestly? They’ve seen enough of Mommy doing that.

After they went to bed that night, I sat up listening to Christmas music and watching the lights twinkle on our beautiful Christmas tree. I reminded myself that pain is part of living, and that without it, we wouldn’t know joy and peace and contentment. I counted my blessings (of which there are many), and I said a little prayer asking for the grace to let the bad days come and go as quickly as possible – because they DO come, whether we embrace or ignore them.

I want to spend this month giving and being. I want to remember that it’s not about the presents or the food or the rushing around. It’s about the people you love and who love you. It’s about finding a little extra time or money or love to share with those who need it most. I find when I get busy asking myself what I can GIVE, my melancholy lifts, and my energy soars.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is it’s OK to feel whatever you feel this time of year. Go ahead and feel down if you need to, and then try not to stay stuck there. December is a mixed bag. Use whatever’s in yours to propel you to the new year the most graceful way you can.

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