Sunday, September 20, 2015

Is it my favorite time of the year?

Frustrated, temper lost, exhausted, sad, drained.


These words and phrases describe my past three Thanksgivings and Christmases.


I remember going into autumn as a kid. I grew up in the mountains so the aspen trees would be lovely yellow and orange, and in my opinion colorful aspen leaves are the prettiest! We'd more often than not get an early snow, making me even more excited for Christmas. My birthday is always the week of Thanksgiving so I'd be with family frequently and my parents always made sure my birthday didn't get sucked up in the busyness of turkey cooking.

Then once December hit, I would turn into this giddy little girl smiling ear to ear. My dad always had the tradition to get the Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We'd decorate the tree and the whole house that weekend and always putting on my dad's old-fashioned lights that would melt an artificial tree. We'd spend December driving to look at Christmas lights all over the place, my mom and I would bake and decorate cookies, and I always looked forward to the Christmas Eve service at church.


Oh, how things change as you lose the blissful outlook of a child to the reality of adulthood!

From Halloween to New Year's, my days consisted of single parenting, single marriage-ing, single holiday-ing. The only thing my husband came home for was to sleep. His job at Honeybaked Ham required he work a good 80-120 hours per week for November and December.

I caught myself asking if this really was my favorite time of the year over the past three years. The magic was gone, my energy was nonexistent, my stress level high with to-dos, and no one to share the special moments with other than two very young, beautiful, but needy girls. Daddy being gone and Mommy being part zombie, part lunatic took a toll on them as well and they acted out because of it, thus adding more fuel to my empty tank.

Can you relate? Do you feel the stress already mounting come November 1st? Do you dread the list of presents to buy, food to cook, family/friends to entertain? Not to mention the day-to-day activities of cleaning, child rearing, and trying to be a decent wife, friend, or simply a functioning woman?

Or are you simply alone in all of it? You may even be married, but it's possible to feel completely isolated even in the midst of a crowded room, or in this case a crowded season. You're struggling to get out of bed in the morning. You let your kids run all over you because you're just too tired to deal with it. The house is a mess because you have just had enough of life and can't take it anymore. The thought of preparing a turkey just sends you right over the edge. Buying presents makes your heart sink because it's just not in the budget.

I'm not here to give you tons of advice and write a "The Top Ten Ways to Not Dread December 25th" column. I just want you to know you are special, you are strong, you are lovely, you are not forgotten, and you are not alone.

Now even though this isn't an advice column, I'm sure there are many practical people out there, so I will briefly share what helped me get through these seasons. I prayed- a lot! I reached out to others, particularly my mom since she could stay with me and help with the kids. I found a babysitter so I could get a pedicure on my birthday. Even though it was just me, I made sure we as a family made memories. I took naps whenever I found the time. I made sure my daughters and I weren't trapped in the house so as long as the weather was good, we'd hit the library, the park, go shopping- anything to avoid feeling stuck in the house. I counted each and every blessing and wrote it down to remind myself of it later.

Friend, I hope this encourages you! Your lovely self has the same struggles as many other women, myself included. Seasons pass. Make the most of what you have and enjoy it, even if it seems impossible. Give enjoying it a try. What do you have to lose?

My husband has a new job now, so I'm hoping and praying he will actually be around. It's still retail, so you never know how that will go. Still, 2015 is actually the first year in a while I'm looking forward to it instead of bracing myself for a storm of a season.

I'm going to do my best to not brace for the season, but to embrace the season. Won't you join me?