What a wonderful holiday. I totally love Thanksgiving. My daughter and her family came down (they'll be back after Christmas) and my niece and her family were there along with my boys and assorted girlfriends. We ate way too much, screamed at some football and laughed until our sides hurt. No drama. No guilt.
That's why it's called the Magic House.
After they left on Saturday, the hubs and I decorated the inside of the house. It looks great and I only had to trim the tree once since at the end of last year we bought a pre-lit tree for downstairs (we already had one for upstairs). And then it happened...
The melancholy set in. That danged anxious, sad feeling I get every year around the holidays. I fight it and fight it and eventually it goes away, but it can leave me feeling flat and not fully present. It sucks. I've battled it for many years and have often attributed it to depression, money troubles or seasonal affective disorder but really, I've never put my finger on exactly what it is.
I know for a fact it's why I loved holiday parties so much. Parties were an opportunity to escape the melancholy. Dress up in festive holiday attire and head out to a place decorated with Christmas lights where we would eat yummy food and, of course, drink our faces off. The more parties the season held the better in my opinion. Of course I spent too much, ate too much and drank so much that I can barely remember most of the parties. But oh they were FUN!!! At least I think they were...
Anyway, after the kids were born the holidays changed and became about Santa and the magic that was Christmas. To see their little eyes shine when they opened their gifts. Or the wonder when Santa came to mass and knelt down to bless the baby Jesus in the manger. Those were also great escapes. Ones that I will treasure always.
But down deep, the "thing" bubbled and brewed. That anxiety, depression, melancholy was merely sleeping, waiting for a chance to pounce...which it inevitably ended up doing. Break out the bubbly! Time to take a ride on the Escape Express! First and last stop...oblivion.
During my first few sober Christmases I never gave it a second thought. I put the feeling down to being sober. After all, how freaking boring is Christmas without wine? I have special Christmas wine glasses and everything! No wonder I can't get in the "spirit", I'm freaking SOBER!
Except this year I know that's not the case. I LOVE being sober! I wouldn't give up this sober life for ANYTHING. Then why do I still feel this way? What in the world is wrong with me?
So I stopped and tried to really examine what I was feeling. Anxiety...check. Sadness...check. Flat...check. What is at the root of this?
Then it hit me...I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall. You see, there's no way my life can feel or be this good. Something bad is bound to happen...it always does. The holidays of my youth were always spent waiting for something to spoil the good time. My father got drunk and spoiled it. My mother brought drama where ever she roamed. The crazy side of my family ended up fighting. IT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING.
So now I literally refuse to let myself get caught up in the good feelings for fear that I will be disappointed later when it all goes to shit.
Here's the thing...so what if it goes to shit. I've carefully cultivated a home filled with love and support and joy. Ours is a drama and guilt free home. It's warm and loving and caring and kind. It's the home I always wanted when I was growing up so even if shit does happen, we'll all be there to support one another and deal with it as it comes...just like we always do.
So it's time to stop living in the past. It's time to live in the NOW. Not dwelling on who made me feel what way 40+ years ago. Not worrying about what might happen. Not trying to control every fucking thing that may or may not come our way.
Just enjoying the spirit of the season. The joy of a well chosen (or made) gift given freely and unconditionally and filled with love. The warmth of family together and enjoying being that way. The celebration of the birth of God's only Son. All the cheesy Christmas movies. Digging in the bottom of my purse for change so that I can drop something in every red kettle I see.
Just being and loving in the Magic House.
PS - If you have a minute or two and you pray, please send up one for the families who are living with the aftermath of the New Town shootings that happened last December 14th. This must be an awfully hard time for them.