Merry Christmas

And so it is Christmas again. Too soon again. Christmas always comes too quickly. How does that happen? We can’t wait for it to be Christmas time each year. And then it comes. And in a flash it is over.

But something is different for me this Christmas eve. For once I am not feeling rushed. There’s no sense of pressure hanging over my head. This is partly because we celebrated a few days ago with my family; or more accurately, we celebrated with the half of my family that still lives in this state. I’m getting used to the fact that the celebrations that included all of the family are no longer to be. I’m getting used to the fact that employers don’t all shut down for the weekend, or on holidays, or even in the evenings. So we celebrated when we could manage to get as many of us together as possible. It’s ok. I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate the times when we can all be together, even if those times don’t fall during the holidays. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate with Mark’s family; all of them. They are a big family and we will spend a good part of the day with them. It will be an effort, as usual, to get everyone showered, dressed and out of the house on time after our own morning celebration. Tempers might flare and a few impatient words might be said, but we’ll get there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My sense of ease is also due in part to a lack of festivities. Tonight, Mark has to work, so it’s just the kids and me. This will be the first time we’ve just stayed home on Christmas eve and not gone off somewhere else to celebrate. The last couple of years, when my extended family ended the tradition of gathering on Christmas eve,  we were invited to celebrate with friends. It was nice to be included, but the kids said they felt like they were intruding on our friends’ family time. We were very welcome there. Just felt slightly out of place. So tonight it’s just us. We’ll eat a nice dinner together. We might bake some more Christmas treats. Maybe we’ll watch some of our favorite Christmas movies. A couple of years ago this would have seemed like not enough. But this time it feels like more than enough. I’m just going to relish this quiet time with my kids who are growing up more quickly than I’d like.

You see, I have begun to realize over the past year that my life is a gift. I have been guilty of not appreciating it though. I was reading a daily reflection this morning and the words for today hit home. “I determine whether or not I’m going to view my experiences through a negative or positive lens. If indeed my perceptions are negative, then it stands to reason my life will feel out of whack, and…I can spend years pouting in my cave. Thank God I don’t have to pout, fuss or complain. I have the option to smile, chuckle or laugh.” *

I have spent years pouting in my cave. But since I started literally counting my blessings in writing this year, my perspective has changed. I’m finding, especially now, during this time of year, that it is so much more clear to me what a gift my life is and how much time I have wasted feeling slighted because I chose to cling to the negative instead of focusing on the positive.

Mark’s longtime coworker, “Rimpy”  was recently diagnosed with a type of liver cancer. There is no hope of recovery for Rimpy. In fact he called the guys at work last night. He called to say goodbye. He’ll spend his last days at home, receiving hospice care. Mark said it was the most difficult conversation he’s ever had. Rimpy told him not to be sad. He said he’d see Mark and all the guys on the other side, someday soon. What a bittersweet Christmas this must be for Rimpy’s family, knowing this is the last one they will spend with him.

We don’t ever know what each day will bring. I think most of us operate on the illusion that we have day after day after day to make things right. Maybe we do and maybe we don’t. All I know is that when my last day comes, I want to arrive there knowing that I had embraced all that had been offered to me. I want to have learned full well that what I expect or desire or demand is not necessarily what is to be. But I hope that I will have learned to accept and trust and embrace even those things that don’t seem like gifts, but end up being so, only in disguise. I don’t want to have missed out on one single gift because I failed to recognize the events in my life as roads to happiness. This Christmas, my immediate family is together. My parents, though far away, are healthy and content in their warm surroundings. My husband may be at work this Christmas eve, but he will be with us all day on Christmas day. This Christmas, I realize that my life is abundant.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my wish for you is that you find your life to be abundant too. Merry Christmas!

*Marilyn Meberg, Choosing the Amusing

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29 thoughts on “Merry Christmas

  1. Now that my kids are getting closer to being completely on their own, I know that very soon I’ll have to deal with celebrating the holidays without all my family at home. I’ll call you for a shoulder to cry on.

    Peace!

  2. I tend to feel that if I get through a day, or a week, or a month with no major flailex then that has been time well spent. As you say, you never know how many days you have left and I try to get something positive out of every one.
    My family is all together this Christmas, which is a very nice thing for us. I doubt we will be able to manage it next year, so that makes it even more important that we get the most out of this one.
    I liked your post, Terri. Good thoughts.

  3. I know exactly what you are talking about. My Christmas is all bundled into one day – tomorrow. Toinght is quiet, and I still have some preparing to do. Years ago, I would be in the midst of chaos, and paper flying all over from unwrapping presents.
    I work Friday. NO party at my job, nor bonuses. Very unerving, but I am happy for what I do have, and the blessings that many times go un-noticed.

    Merry Christmas Terri, to you and the whole family!

  4. Terri, even though this year will be different for you (and hubby working), I wish you a very extra special Christmas. You are loved by many!

    *hugs*

  5. Thanks for this, Terri. I’m sitting here feeling very sorry for myself, wondering if I will ever have someone to help me play Santa to my little boy. Wondering why my ex gets to fly to his parent’s and I’m alone, again. Wondering if I will ever find someone I even want to love again. And your post really hit home. I’m so immeasurably blessed, and even the bittersweet moments are worth savoring. Aren’t they?

    Merry Christmas, Terri. ((((HUGS))))

  6. Terri,
    I so enjoyed this. I know what you mean about doing less and feeling less pressure. I used to think I had to run around to all the planned events for Christmas Eve to give the kiddo the full flavor. We’d come home late and feel like total strangers to our home. Looking at each moment as a blessing means it’s possible to stay home and relax and make the most of what is right in front of us.

    Merry Christmas!

  7. One of the best ‘gifts’ I get each year is knowing that I raised strong, independent, self-sufficient children into their adulthood. Although they are not with me during the holidays, I know where they are and that they are thinking of me, that they are spending their holidays with their spouses and children, and making traditions of their own. Isn’t that what life is all about, anyway?

    Merry Christmas to you!

  8. Sounds like you’ve learned some very important things along the line. I have never been one for “big” Christmases, and this year was even smaller as I used all my gift money for a project helping others enjoy Christmas.

    Sorry to hear about your husband’s coworker. Cancer is such a hideous disease. I hope the gentleman can enjoy the days he has.

  9. Well Terri,
    It appears that I am learning to appreciate the simple things too. I was called in on my vacation days during Christmas but my family and I do not view that as negative. I am thankful I have a job and work hard – as I can tell Mark does.
    I pray that Rimpy’s family can find peace in knowing that he will no longer be suffering even though he will no longer be with them. We have family who are gone but have many fantastic memories.

  10. The peace and contentment you are displaying can only bring you closer to what you desire. And your family will only be better for it. What a gift to all.

    Thank you for sharing your journey and merry christmas.

  11. Maybe there’s something in the air that is bringing “less stress” over the holidays or something like that, cause here, we actually had a long-drawn out Christmas -three different times of gift exchanges, food and such, along with two church services (Mandy and Maya went to the first one, my son, and three female friends of his and I went to the second service), but we had a minimal amount of squabbles between Kurtis and Maya, a good bit of attempts at sharing between them and thankfully, no full-fledged meltdowns from either of them! Got my cookies baked in time and in adequate quantities, fixed two fairly large but yet reasonably easy meals too.
    Maybe getting more priorities, less expectations too, helped here. Sounds like it worked that way for you too! First time I can remember being in bed by 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve too for me! And also, having a chance for a nice nap after brunch today as well. Little gifts, most appreciated!
    Enjoy the time with your family, hold them close in many ways today (and always) because as you said so well, we sure don’t know what tomorrow will bring nor how many more tomorrows we will have together so get the most bang for your buck! My theory there! But, I know you know how I mean that too!
    Merry Christmas and the best of New Years too for you and yours!
    Peace!

  12. “when my last day comes, I want to arrive there knowing that I had embraced all that had been offered to me”….yes, which is why my birthday this Dec turned out to be so special. Cdnt be with people I had wanted to be with, but there were others who made it special for me… :)

    Hope you have great year ahead, Terri, hugs.

  13. Time spent with family is one of the greatest gifts there is. When you’re younger, you don’t think so. Then, you begin to realize that you might not have as much time as you think. I had a great Christmas with mine. I hope you did too. God bless you guys.

  14. As you always say. Life is Good. we have ups and downs, but cherishing what we have is a good thing. You are a wonderful woman with a great family. What else can you ask for?

    Enjoy the Christmas memories.. and make some.

    O (G)

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