Letting Go of “Lots” for Christmas


Throughout life, but especially right now in the Holiday Season, I am finding more and more each year, that I am having to let go. Not of people necessarily (though that does happen) but definitely let go. I am having to let go of plans and expectations, of details and striving.

I really wanted this year to be different, simpler. Doesn’t that sound odd, though? Striving for simplicity? I tried to lower the number of gifts bought (losing battle, usually, but maybe I’ll try something different next year). I have tried to embrace the quiet moments (difficult with a rambunctious five-year-old and the never-ending work of teaching). I tried to get everything done early (yeah…was still ordering gifts as recently as Saturday morning). I feel like I’m constantly striving for a goal but missing it somehow and then having to let go of what I thought were pretty good plans. Even worse, I’m having to let go of expectations that I somehow managed to place upon myself without even realizing the weight that was settling on my shoulders. You, too? Well, welcome to the club. More and more I am feeling like Cindy Lu Who, wondering what happened to my joy in Christmas, while, all the while, I’m rushing around like mad, the same as every other Who in Whoville. After all, there are still Christmas programs to attend and participate in, pitch-ins to cook for, papers to grade, and presents to wrap.

Every year, I say the same thing and I feel like I fail at that one thing: a simpler, more meaningful Christmas. I feel as though I lose myself in the attempt to make sure that it’s special for my dear ones–which is, of course, important–and I forget to enjoy it myself. Then I blink and…Christmas is gone.  The season is over and the softness of the lights becomes glaring, a reminder that it’s slipped through my fingers again.

Is this you, too, by any chance? Well, then. Trust me, dear one, you are in excellent company. The rush of the world is hard to resist and sometimes we just end up striving anyway and feeling like we never get much of anywhere. But there is good news! Christmas hasn’t passed us by yet. Like Scrooge, we still have a chance. We still have a chance for a glass of wine/hot chocolate/egg nog/cider before the silent glow of the Christmas tree. We have a chance to find those little moments of peace and quiet. We still have a chance to let go of some “lots” for a bit more of “best”.

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Ten Years Worthy: The Right to Celebrate


Today, I celebrate my tenth wedding anniversary, a decade of marriage. While other hearts are full of grief and sadness and heartbreak for a myriad of other reasons and they are wading and sorting their way with bare-nerved pain through some of the most difficult of processes, today I celebrate love and progress and growth and partnership. And I have to admit something: the brain weasels threaten and the question rises in the back of my mind like a lump in my throat, a weight in my chest that threatens to stifle and suffocate.

What right do I have to it? What right do I have to be happy, secure, and glaringly in love? What right have I to celebrate in the midst of the trials and troubles of those in my life? I know that I have written on this before, though the circumstances and point of the writing were somewhat different. Still, it is a notion that I struggle with, this right to feel happy, to be happy.

And yet I will. Not necessarily because I deserve to be happy but because I choose to be. Twelve years ago, I made the choice to say yes to the young man who asked me on a date after chivalrously driving me to the airport to fly home for my aunt’s funeral. I chose to say yes when he stood in my dorm room on a Tuesday a year later and those blue eyes of his asked me to marry him (partially because I didn’t give his voice a chance to get the words out). I made and still make a choice to say yes every time since then that he has asked me if I am sure, if I am happy, if I am still glad that I joined my life to his.

Yes. I am sure.

Yes. I am happy.

Yes. I am still glad that I am here, that I am his wife, that we are family, that we are together.

I say yes because it is the truth.Today, I will pray for those who hurt, who are in pain. Today, I will put on a slinky dress (congrats to any fellow fans who get that reference) and enjoy a beautiful dinner with wonderful people and celebrate all that is good in life, for, yes, there is much good. Amidst darkness and pain and sorrow and grief, there is good. There is grace. There is hope. And I will celebrate it all today.

Today, I will pray for those who hurt, who are in pain. Today and every day, I will do my best to care for, encourage, love on, and support them, as they have always done in pouring out themselves for me. But, today, I will also put on a slinky dress (congrats to any fellow fans who get that reference), enjoy a beautiful dinner with wonderful people, and celebrate all that is good in life, for, yes, there is much good. Amidst darkness and pain and sorrow and grief, there is good. There is grace. There is hope. There is love. There is family. There are triumphs. There is new life. And I will celebrate it all today.

 

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Photography by Jordan Barclay. http://jordanbarclay.com