Sunday, December 1, 2013
The holidays. Two words, but it can mean so many different things. I would say the general vibe I get from the average American is a happy one when it comes to the end of the year celebrations. I know out there though there are people who really dislike them. I read somewhere once that depression rates spike during the holidays. A couple of days before Thanksgiving I was listening to NPR and they had etiquette specialists on talking about how people can deal with their families. I smiled and agreed with almost everything they said.
I have run the full circle of emotions when it comes to the holidays. I have been the child that loved so many parts of Thanksgiving at my Aunt Pams and have memories of having to wait in anticipation through church service one Christmas Sunday morning to open my presents when I got home. I have seen my parents filled with so much sadness during the holidays I secretly begged for no one to be happy. I have had a dear friend killed just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Sometimes when you can't get a Christmas tree because your mom is single and its just too hard to figure out how to get one, you wish no one had one.
People joke that they are just a Scrooge during the holidays, but I know deep down that there is pain during the holidays because for some it rubs in the sadness that is all around them. I feel for these people. I wish no one would be alone or even feel alone, especially during a time when everyone else is celebrating togetherness.
I use to hate when people in my church would tell me to be thankful for what I did have. Or to have "joy." I think all along what I wanted was for someone to admit that there was pain. And that the things in my life weren't right. It didn't seem fair. I don't think joy should be shoved down one's throat.
For whatever reason though, I am no longer in that stage of pain. There are still hard issues in my life, but growing up can help heal things when you choose to let it. Choosing to forgive and to love in your own adult life can be the most freeing thing one can do. Having my own child has also helped to move me forward. All of my family loves Blanche so dearly. In a way we are back to the magic of childhood once again.
I have also been so blessed with Andrew's family. I do wish all of our family, my side and his, could be close by. But as I have written before and even in my last post, I always feel comfortable and loved with Andrews family. This year I do think I am even more grateful for them. Andrew's mom and step-dad hosted Andrew's two sister's families and our own. I was not expected to really do anything the whole weekend. I kept offering or feeling guilty, but Andrew's mom assured me one year when I wasn't pregnant I could cook and clean more. This year the weekend really did feel like several days of thanksgiving. There were rough moments for sure; Blanche cried almost constantly for an hour and half after her nap on Thursday, and I had know idea why. But it was sweet to see Andrew's sisters try and make her smile and Becca try to find a show that would comfort Blanche. Big family functions can be overwhelming for a toddler or with a toddler. I am realizing that everyone, myself included, can try and make things easier and smoother. I have had experiences where people just sit and stare, but thankfully this wasn't what happened.
Andrew's mom taught toddlers for twenty years, so she was filled with good ideas for her grandkids. Their newer home here in Texas doesn't have huge trees with lots of leaves falling, but she did carry back a full trash bag of leaves from a neighbor's yard to her own during our walk. Blanche and Jonathan absolutely loved jumping and rolling around in the big pile of leaves. It was also comical to see Showpa racking leaves again and again with a treeless backyard. Gigi also had the idea to fill bowls with beans and gave each child spoons and cars and let them go wild in the backyard. She's a walking pinterest board for toddlers.
As I have gotten older I have realized that even though there are harder seasons of life than others, that there are always hard aspects in life. And I know I am probably sounding cliche but I have found that it is easier to be thankful when I focus on the good. There are so many hurting people out there that have things that are so much harder that they have to work through. I didn't enjoy Andrew having to work Thanksgiving Day, but I am also thankful for how he is working so hard to provide for us. I may be uncomfortable during the end of this pregnancy, but I am so thankful there's a sweet little baby causing that discomfort. I know each day I can think like this as well.
Even today for example, I can get overwhelmed thinking about how tired I am and that Andrew is as well. We had only a few hours to go get groceries before he had to work the rest of the day until eleven tonight. Blanche was a little crazy and cried a lot at the store. But I know that I can be thankful there is money for food. And that even though life can be busy and nonstop at certain times, the Lord will meet me where I am. Andrew and I aren't huge believers in the American dream. Sometimes it does seem like thats what we are working so hard for, and maybe why I have even in the past not enjoyed the holidays and the American culture that goes along with it. But as I was riding in the car today, feeling big and pregnant and a little overwhelmed I could feel God telling me to take a moment at a time. To focus on the relationships around me and the love I can give, rather than the to do list. Sure, diapers have to be changed, laundry and grocery shopping has to be done, but I am realizing most of what truly matters is the attitude in which I do those things, not necessarily the list itself.
What can make the holidays so happy or sad is the relationships that they focus on. No one can control those around them, but each of us can control ourselves. We can choose to love. I have found the more I choose to love the more love I have received in return. And really, that is what I want to teach Blanche about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sure there are fun traditions, but I want Blanche to know the love behind why we celebrate in this season.