Sunday, December 25, 2016

Magic of the Holiday Season

Who Defines What the Holidays "Should" Be?

Dear Readers,

Happy Holidays to all of you! 

I am always reflective this time of year. About 6 years ago I made a conscious decision to put distance between my immediate family and myself. I lost my dad 11 years ago this past October and nothing has been the same since.

It was a decision some may have issue with, but we can never really know what it is like to walk in another's shoes. As I have experienced several traumatic experiences and loss throughout my life, I am in a place where I need to do what is best for my well-being and mental health. This includes surrounding myself with positive people and making decisions that might be considered outside the norm, particularly at holidays.

My Inner Child

I have always carried my inner child with me. In fact, I think that is what helps me through the tough times. I love the magic of the holiday (Christmas) season. It is not about the decorations, gifts or food. It is the feeling around the day. My favorite story is the Polar Express and I have several sleigh bells from the story. That is what I love about the holiday. Believe is my favorite word (I have it everywhere!) and it is how I think.

I love to laugh, make jokes, pull pranks and just have fun. My students tell me I am funny, positive and always happy. It means so much to me that they feel that way.

My Old Soul

On the flip side, to complement my inner child, I also am an old soul. I have experienced things that make it hard to connect and relate to my peer group.

Sometimes I feel much, much older than my 39 years. I am a far better giver and nurturer than I am a receiver. It is difficult for me to show my vulnerability and ask for help. I am a writer, not a talker. I do not like the feeling of "burdening" others with my problems, issues, etc.

But sometimes I pay a price for bottling everything up and not allowing people in. I am extremely protective of myself and will push people away when I perceive the situation as "threatening" to me. What I have found is the people who love me for who I am, are willing to accept my flaws as well as my incredible kindness and generosity, are my true friends.

Meaningful Holidays

The way I spend my holidays, may not be what most consider as "typical", but it works for me. I have always been someone who beats to her own drum, is quirky, unique and does not care what others think. I love my independent "me" time. I am comfortable being alone. I do not have to constantly be surrounded by others to be happy. 

When people ask what I am doing for the holiday, I want to say, quite frankly, "Whatever the heck I feel like." Here are some of my favorite memories from Christmas.

  • Spending the day swinging on my friend's back porch because of the unseasonable warm weather and then coming home and going for a long walk around the neighborhood.
  • Going to midnight mass with a colleague and her family.
  • Getting called to Christmas dinner at a friend's house by her mother because we were playing with Legos.
  • Having an amazing Italian Christmas Eve at a friend's mother's house.

This year, I get to spend the day with Ellie the school therapy dog. It was one of my best Christmas mornings ever watching her open presents. 

Creating New Traditions

I read somewhere that when you experience loss, a positive action is to make new traditions. Here are a few of mine.

  • If I send cards, they are to first responders thanking them for risking their lives to save others.
  • Instead of exchanging gifts with people I know, I do Random Acts of Kindness.
  • I make it a point to spend quality time with my students the week before break. I know some of them are not looking forward to the break and holiday. They would rather be in school.
  • I do not cook, but thankfully have a Wegmans within walking distance. I choose what I want for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. Last night I had macaroni and cheese (yum!) and today will most likely be chicken fingers and rice. My sweet treat was a candy cane donut from Dunkin Donut. Happy as a clam!
  • Sometimes I go to the movies on Christmas Day depending on my mood and what is playing.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you choose to do, however you choose to spend your time or whoever you choose to share your holiday with, as long as it makes you happy it is exactly what you should do. 

If you choose to spend it alone (in a healthy mindset), that is absolutely fine. 

Everyone has the right to spend the holidays in a way that makes them feel happy, positive and comfortable.

My Wish to You

I wish you all happiness and peace in 2017. May all your dreams, wishes, hopes come true.

All you have to do is.....