exploring life and love with pictures and words

A most wonderful time of the year . . .

IMG_3737The holidays always heighten that empty, something is missing kind of feeling. As busy as I am with work, wrapping up a major remodel of my home, shopping, and holiday gatherings, there are moments when I am alone with my thoughts; when I’m stuck in traffic, before I fall asleep, and that time between waking up and actually getting out of bed each morning. Traveling faster than the speed of sound, these tiny video clip memories whirl around inside my head, and for some reason I always pause for the ones that hurt the most, lingering long enough to make my heart ache.

My thoughts hit a variety of emotional nerves, longing, loneliness sadness and sometimes regret. I miss my parents terribly during the holidays. The memory of my mom’s last Christmas, seven years ago, is bathed in the amazing light of our family’s love. I remember leaving her one night and kissing her three times on the lips, between each kiss saying, I love you, I love you, I love you. I watched my siblings and my dad show beautiful expressions of love as well. I felt grateful for those moments, and even joyful as I had the chance to love her so deeply, and for my mom to know and enjoy the depth of our love while she still could. At the same time, I watched my dad suffer great heartache, the man who believed he could keep all of us safe, could not save his wife from cancer, so God damn sad. Today, it’s hard to think of this time without crying.

Maybe I’ve watched too many happy holiday movies, and as a result my expectations are out of whack. I can’t even peruse Facebook these days without reading a truly heart warming story about selfless acts of charity and giving. It seems joy abounds. If so, shouldn’t the season increase my happiness quotient? Instead, I dwell on sadness and love lost, relationships that made Christmas a dismal holiday, and the many Christmases I have been disappointed by unfulfilled expectations, and my own poor choices. Why can’t my holiday funk be fixed by the magic of Christmas?

I’m not sure how to love the holidays, but, I know two things. First . . . I am not alone in how I feel, the correlation between loneliness and depression during the holidays is old news, a rough time for so many people. Which leads me to the second thing I know . . . No one wants to hear that you don’t like the holidays. Do an experiment and udder the words, I don’t like the holidays. You’ll get a laundry list of all you should be grateful for, a reminder that helping others is the best way to help yourself, and a crash course on changing your attitude.

Nobody asked, but here is my advice. I have done all of the above . . . I make gratitude lists, I read them and add to them every day. I am grateful! I volunteer my time on a regular basis to folks who can use my help, and it gives me great joy to do so. I find happiness in every day and when I don’t, I smile anyway. My life is good and ALL of these actions keep me from attending too many pity parties. As good as life is, my heart has many achy moments and I sometimes feel sad and lonely, the holidays are especially hard. During those personal lows, I seek out family and friends who are willing to come down into that dark hole with me and say, this sucks, I am sorry you are sad, it breaks my heart to know you are lonely, I will sit with you as long as you need me to .  . .

I used to think that admitting sadness was a sign of weakness. Now I know it’s a measure of strength. A willingness to be vulnerable not only gives those who love me an opportunity to help, but it allows me to connect with those I love so that I am emotionally available when they need me. I have learned that vulnerability and connection are vital in creating healthy and strong bonds in our friendships, our families, and as humans sharing this planet.

Last night, completely unexpected, I had the opportunity to be a friend; to allow someone I really care for to be vulnerable in my presence, to follow this person to a very lonely place and say, I’m here with you, and I’ll stay here as long as you need me . . . and I did. My heart was lifted, and my load a little lighter from the experience. Funny how that works. . .

I have much to be grateful for this week . . . a gathering of girlfriends, Christmas Eve with friends, Christmas morning with my grandson and Christmas Day with my entire family in my newly remodeled home. I am so fortunate and it’s okay to feel a little sad too, important people are missing and no amount of therapy, charity work and giving of myself will ever erase the sadness of missing them.

Good memories linger too, my mom’s annual baking, and home delivery of her special Christmas treats, decorating the Christmas tree each year with my kiddos, and a white beach cruiser, detailed in pink with black polka-dots, the most thoughtful gift I have ever received.

This Christmas . . . be vulnerable, connect, love, and allow yourself to be loved.

xoc

ps . . . it’s okay to feel sad during the holidays . . . I’m here and I’ll sit with you

23 Responses to “A most wonderful time of the year . . .”

  1. Mary

    Beautifully said! I’ve been missing my CA friends, my parents and my sister … especially my sister so much this year. But, I’m grateful to be here with Mari by my side as I write to you. Thank you and Merry Christmas, Christine!

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Barb

    So authentic and courageous of you to write these words. You can never go wrong being true to your feelings, I love the part where you talk about having friends go down that dark hole with you. Those are true friends, we don’t always need a pep talk and advice, sometimes we just need someone to journey with us to the sad places. Priceless. XO

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    • Bare Naked in Public

      Thank you Barb. Funny . . . any courage I have at all comes from those who read by blog and encourage me to keep on going. I love the connections, the support, the validation. Feels good. xoxox

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  3. Karen Shatafian

    Beautiful! I always get chills when I read what you have to say because it resonates with me so. I think Hollywood has done all us real folks a disservice. The holidays for me are like anything else, I take the bad with the good and stop trying to make it something it’s not. For me, I just want to be real. So if that means crying in a heap at the base of my tree because I miss my mother so, then that’s what will be. My loved ones will just have to deal!!! I hope you have a joy filled week, but if you don’t, that’s okay too! 🙂

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  4. Lori

    Thank you Christine, so beautifully written and so honest. You know that I am not a fan of this time of year either, I do try but it’s a struggle. Love you friend. ❤️

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  5. judy

    I love your honesty. Reading about your mom and dad made me cry and cry. It just feels so close to home.
    My last years Christmas puppy(Strider) has his head on my lap looking up at me wondering why I am crying. Both my pups are so very sensitive. 🙂
    Enjoy your Holidays as best you can.

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      • judy

        Basil and I will make it to OC. I have to see Sue’s new house. Sister Sue is moving into mom and dad’s as we speak so we will also visit HB.. I want to take Basil to the pier. We’ll be in SO CAL Jan 7-14th

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  6. SilverGirl

    I don’t just ‘like’ your post – I ‘LOVE’ your post!
    Again… ‘I’m feeling it’ :o)
    I’ve been feeling hurt and sad at times.. but trying not to dwell in my own self pity.
    All that the dwelling seems to do is snatch away at my energy and my life piece by piece. I lose my spark, my health and my potential.
    Instead this Christmas I’m focusing on finding peace and happiness in this present moment (peace even in my sadness, peace even in the injustice of my situation).
    Although Christmas this year for me is bittersweet, and it will be very small .. it may just be my first ‘real’ Christmas ..?
    …I’m sitting here trying to fathom what I just wrote – what does that mean…?
    I guess it means that my Christmases in the past were somewhat fake..
    They were all about the food, the gifts, the stress, the struggle and the dysfunction – fake friends and a fake idea of love.
    This year it is about peace and love for me (… and surprisingly self love).
    Thank you for this post.. helpful again :o)
    Christmas blessings to you xx

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  7. Mary

    I don’t know how I missed this post, but it’s so, so, so true. I think the holidays are especially difficult because they accent the loses — the empty chair where a loved one sat, the rituals that someone else now has to do, the memories contrasted with the lost tomorrows with the ones you’ve loved and lost. This reminds me how important it is to be aware, supportive, and understanding. Someone very close to me suffers greatly during the holidays. It’s become such a predictable pattern that I do not show nearly the compassion and patience as I should. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. Your piece paints the picture so vividly that I will work to do better. Thank you!

    Christine, one reason why your blog is so critical and important is that by sharing such a deep part of yourself, you are helping so many. It’s also saddened me to realize that I have often missed the hurt you have felt behind your vibrant smile and your glowing personality. You really do know how to put on the best face and move forward, and yet I see here how important it is to face those dark places and share what’s really going on inside. Your blog is a gift, and yet it feel trite to say that. Its what I truly feel. I love you. I hope to learn to be the better friend, to sit by quietly and let you feel.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Bare Naked in Public

    Mary, you are a wonderful friend. Whenever I write, contemplate, criticize or just ponder, I reflect and think about how I measure up to my own words. Nobody is perfect. I just hope to be more thoughtful, more purposeful about all of my interactions with the people I love and complete strangers. It can only make this world a better place right? Best to you in the new year, looking forward to many walks and conversation. xoxoxox

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  9. Phyllis Kerlin

    Goosebumps. I’m not a fan of the holidays either. So I find one moment I like and say “that’s my Christmas!”. Mine was Friday night when I slept on an air mattress with family. It was wonderful. Love you so much, C.

    Liked by 1 person

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