Not My Merriest Christmas*

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day filled with family and friends… or at the very least that you got a good nap in.

I was not at my best today. It was a hard day for me, and I didn’t try as hard as I should have… but let me explain a little.

I mentioned earlier that S & H woke up with fevers on Wednesday morning. What I was hoping was just a 24 hour bug just wouldn’t go away, and after 3 days of non-stop fever I knew I had to get them seen. Luckily my doctor’s office has a urgent care walk in clinic on Saturday mornings, and after a long 2.5 hour wait we found out that they both have strep throat. So, my Christmas plans changed from light tours and family visits to antibiotics and movie marathons.

I knew that we likely wouldn’t be able to go up to my parent’s house to be with my family today. I made a back up meal plan just in case and I got organized… but if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t mentally or emotionally prepare for it. Deep in my heart I hoped somehow that all the stars would align and the kids would be well enough to go.

We had our little family Christmas Eve last night, just us. It began with me feeling badly about accidentally burning the Chinese food I made for M & I, and my still not quite well kids were fading. We watched the old Grinch movie together, read the Christmas story, sang Away in a Manger, then put out our plate for Santa. This year he got some egg nog (dairy free, of course) a muffin and a few carrots for the reindeer. The kids collapsed into bed and fell asleep almost immediately–even P, who is our chronic late night partier and liked to leave his room 103847 times before finally going to bed. M and I went to work playing Santa and Mrs. Claus, then spent an evening cozy on the couch watching our new show: Designated Survivor.

The kids all slept in until after 6:30, so I actually had time to shower and get dressed before going down. They all lined up at the top of the stairs while M went down to check and see if Santa came. When they went tearing down the stairs to see their stockings it was… magic. S was beyond excited, and I think H is the funniest gift receiver in the world. Everything is amazing as he opens it. P hopped around and had to see what everyone else got, then proceeded to try and eat all the treats from everyone’s stockings. We opened presents, and I think the kids had a really great Christmas. M did most of the shopping for the kids, and he really hit it out of the park.

As we were opening presents we noticed that P was coughing quite a bit. It was deep in his chest and his nose was running, and while he’s always a bit saucy, he was more irritable than normal. We hemmed and hawed for a bit, but finally over breakfast we made the call that we needed to stay home today. I knew in my heart of hearts that the kids just weren’t up for it, and if I dragged them out, I’d be doing it for me not them.

Even though I knew it was the right decision, it was like something broke in me right then. I’m a little ashamed to say that I shut down and lost my Christmas spirit. My mom called, and it was so great to talk to her and my Dad, but I knew my siblings were all on their way and I wasn’t and it was really, really hard for me. I know I’m an adult now with a family of my own, and at some point this was going to happen… but I just wasn’t ready for it to be right now. I’m 33 years old, and this was my first Christmas without my family. I missed them.

So, I went upstairs to “fold laundry” and had a good cry.

I knew I was due–it’s been a long week. After a week of worry and not much sleep, I’m worn out. I wanted to go home today and be a kid again, just for a minute. It didn’t happen, and I was sad. So I cried, then I got on my knees and asked for a change in perspective to help me get through the day.

I eventually came down and got to work–made lunch with the kids, tidied the house, read my book and eventually passed out on the couch. M quietly herded the kids downstairs to let me sleep. I was in and out for almost 2 hours… and as I lay there I knew that Christmas is what you make it. I just… I guess I don’t know how to “make it” on my own. I don’t know how to make it feel Christmasy and magical, but I need to figure it out. I was not my best today, and I feel like I took something away from the rest of my family and I feel badly about that.

After we had the kids in bed, M went downstairs to clean up and I still felt a little adrift. So, I went to an old anchor that I’ve neglected for a long time… too long. For the first time in months I sat down at my piano and played a Christmas carol, trying to bring back some of the Christmas spirit I had lost earlier in the day. My fingers were rusty and hit every wrong key imaginable, but I just kept playing and eventually a cobweb or two fell off. I played through one book, and then another. I played for over an hour until my shoulders hurt because I’m so out of practice with my posture. As I played I remembered why I used to play–music gives me time to think and reflect. To get perspective. Earlier today I fell to my knees in tears asking for help to shift my thinking, and tonight I got it.

I wasn’t at my best today. I’m sorry. It was a hard day and I missed my family… but in doing that I missed out on really seeing my little family right here. I was not who I wanted to be today… but I know I can be better tomorrow.


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