Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Present- No More Waaaas

If you just met me and/or just became my Facebook friend, you might think that I am Mrs. Christmas, full of happiness and joy and ahhhhh. But wait (insert record scratch sound)...You may not know that I used to be a pretty big Grinch. I wasn't really grumpy, no it was more like I was sad and maybe jealous and possibly a little bit bitter. Can I blame it on my mother? Um, YES! I can (and will!)  also blame my ineffective coping skills and poor life choices. Hell, I can even blame picking "communications" as my major in college and never getting a great job that paid a million dollars.  

So yeah, for years Christmas and all the joy and expectations associated with the holiday season filled me with a sense of Christmas Past doom and gloom. It reminded me of Christmas Eves as a teenager spent with my mother crying and me saying silent prayers that her life, our life, would change. My mom was sad and suffering from undiagnosed mental illness(es) all those years ago. She was also in the beginning stages of an impressive opiate addiction. But back then, a million years ago in the 1980s, nobody talked about stuff like they do now. All I knew was that she cried and was sad and upset, and that she usually ended up yelling about our father who had divorced her and "ruined her life," and then maybe she'd say something cruel to my sister, brother or me and then go into her room to be alone. 

As I got older, the holidays didn't get easier. My mom was still sad and suffering. I was still silently praying for a Christmas miracle, that she would be happy again and that everything wouldn't be so sad and so tense. The older I got, the less I prayed and the less hopeful I became. Waaaaa. 

But wait (record scratch again).... I fell in love and got married and had my own babies. Hope! Except I couldn't shake my holiday bitterness and hold-over childhood Christmas anxiety. To make things more annoying, my fancy "communications" job didn't pay much and I felt stressed out about money and buying presents. Waaaaa.

Every Christmas season I went through the motions. I got the babies' pictures taken at Sears and made them into Christmas cards (oh my god! it was before digital cameras and Facebook and I feel so old!) and mailed them to everyone I knew. I started traditions. I married into a tradition-rich family who loved Christmas like no other family I'd ever met. I enjoyed watching my babies and sort of enjoyed parts of the season. But the anxiety, the bitterness, the angst stayed with me like a bad habit. I spent much of the season a little short of breath and grumpy and crying off and on and resenting my mother and Christmas Past. Waaaaa.

But wait (record scratch yet again)...over the past couple years I started to feel less angst and more joy. I'm older and wiser. Here's the real turning point, now when I think about Christmas Past I think about the history I've made with my own sweet family. I've been Christmas-ing as a mother myself now for 14 years. The memories we talk about are the traditions my husband and I created with our own kids. We laugh about the time Peyton ate ALL the candy canes when he was a toddler and how Wade literally climbed up the Christmas tree and how Lucy always got so into the "magic of the season" and how JT always had/has to visit Santa to tell him exactly what he wants. 

These are my memories now. This is what fills my Christmas Past.

I moved on a little, I let go a little, I healed a little. The relationship with my mother is still sad and tense and uncomfortable and I do not see her at Christmas. There will inevitably be a moment where my heart hurts because of my relationship with my mother and her sadness and for all the Christmases that were spent with us crying and hurting alone in our rooms. But I won't get stuck in those feelings. I look around at the family I've worked so damn hard to build and protect and the only thing I feel is love and joy and tremendous gratitude.

So yeah, I'm THAT lady posting on Facebook about my Christmas tree cutting tradition and hanging paper snowflakes around my house and smiling in pictures and maybe even wearing a god damn sequined Christmas sweater. I'm smiling because I'm grateful and full of love and pride and my god, it's all so much silly fun. I'm smiling because I get what it's like to feel alone and bitter and jealous, and um, joy feels so much better. There's a lot of Christmas Past for a lot of people. I get it. My Christmas wish/prayer is that everyone gets a little healing, a little moving on, a little silly holiday fun and joy and love. If that's not possible right now, I hope for the season to move swiftly without too much pain and that my pictures don't annoy you too much.

I still stress out about money and never have enough around Christmas, but the paper snowflakes and Christmas tree-shaped cake do make the stress better. And so do my funny, go-with-the-flow, cool kids and patient, loving husband. My right now, my Christmas Present, is pretty rad and I'm loving it and going to be posting about it all over social media and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and ahhhhh! (no more record scratches, no more waaaaaa's)

Here's our silly Bring Back the Elf Magic Night tradition:

I'm hard at work hanging my paper snowflakes. lol.
On Elf Night we have waffles and marshmallows for dinner.
The kids love it.
Our elf on the shelf is an old wrestling figure that we named Keith and he is the guest of honor at Elf Night.
Here's the story of Keith.

After dinner and after the elf magic ceremony, we watch the movie Elf together. 
Keith doesn't get too crazy. He just kind of shows up around the house in different spots until Christmas. Sometimes he leaves notes for the kids but he's not very tricky or naughty.

Here's a short video from our Elf Night-

(Click here to watch the video.)


  1. OMG. OMG. JT's curls in the middle of the Christmas Past collage. Aw. No wonder you don't have the Waaaaaas anymore.

  2. I needed to read this post today. I need to read it every day this holiday season. I'm so glad you've found joy in your amazing, beautiful, wonderful family, my friend. Happy Holidays to you all! xoxo