How I Spent My Christmas Vacation
OK. So there wasn’t exactly a Christmas vacation, except for the National Lampoon movie I watched five times. But the entire month of December is kind of a vacation, whether you take time off or not.
In a previous post I talked about how I always struggle with anxiety and depression at the holidays. So I made a concerted effort this year to combat those feelings. I tried to pay extra attention to how I was feeling, what I felt like doing, and what I DIDN’T feel like doing.
My mom went to a counseling conference once where someone talked about the concept of “musterbation.” (And every time she says it, I want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I’m some place far away. Ain’t nobody got time to hear their mother say anything that sounds remotely like that!) But as much as it tweaks at my delicate, feminine, southern constitution, it’s actually a really useful concept. We’re so caught up in all the things that we think we “must” do that we don’t take the time to think about what’s actually necessary and what’s just people pleasing and false expectations and most importantly – what we REALLY WANT to do.
Did I want to send Christmas cards? Yes! Did I want to put up Christmas decorations? No! And Christmas came anyway.
I sang in my church’s “Advent Lessons and Carols” program. I bought presents for a needy kid. I bought some cookies at a dessert auction to benefit students at Hope-Hill Elementary School. I went Christmas shopping with my mom. I visited my elderly aunt. I went to the choir’s Christmas Party and took silly pictures wearing a silly sweater.
When the blues and anxiety started setting in closer to December 25th, I put on my biggest hooded sweatshirt, my Dr. Martens and my Braves cap and went to the “Longest Night Service” at church. I was anointed and wound up with the wonderful essence of anointing oil permeating my cap. I turned down an invitation to a party when I was starting to feel overwhelmed. And when the night of December 23rd came and I didn’t think I was going to make it through, I reached out to my friends for prayers and support – and it came in overwhelming fashion.
We do our family Christmas on Christmas Eve, so when I got to the 24th, I thought I was probably in the clear. And then my car broke down in my mom’s driveway. Why does Christmas hate me so?
My mom, my brother and I debated how I was going to get home. I could drive the beat up old Chevy pickup truck they keep for hauling stuff. It’s usually kind of dependable. My brother offered to let me take his Mustang. But I was so afraid I would wreck his beautiful red convertible. My nephew finally looked at me in the midst of these conversations and insightfully said, “I can tell you don’t want to drive that stuff. We’ll take you home tonight.” My heart grew three sizes that day.
Maybe Christmas didn’t hate me after all. Maybe it just wanted to show me how much I have to be grateful for. I handed my car keys to my brother who took care of getting my car to the mechanic; and my nephew and his girlfriend brought me home to Atlanta and then turned around and drove all the way back to Douglasville. And I never cried. It only counts as crying if a tear actually runs down your cheek. I had incredibly huge lower eyelid capacity that night, I tell you!
I spent Christmas day at home alone. Which wasn’t a bad thing. I made a huge breakfast and watched about eight hours of Ken Burns’ “Baseball.” I went back to work Thursday, Friday and Monday and then was off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I came soooooooo close to road tripping to Cherokee, NC for New Year’s but never could quite get a plan to come together. (But just CONSIDERING doing something like that is a huge step in my fight for fearlessness in 2014!)
I spent New Year’s Eve watching “The Twilight Zone” marathon, and made a ribeye steak and baked potato for dinner. At some point I decided to do a photo diary of my evening with all my companions. (I’ve always said that if you can make yourself laugh, you’ll never feel lonely.) Then New Year’s Day I made a perfect Spinach and Mushroom Quiche, watched more “Twilight Zone” and slept through the Georgia game. Thank God.
So I made it through the holidays in pretty good shape except for that evening of the 23rd where I fell deep into the pit of emptiness. But I learned that I can do Christmas however I like – there are no “musts.” I learned that I need lots of sleep to combat my holiday anxiety. I learned that it’s not wrong or weak to ask for help. I was reminded how many people I have who don’t mind helping me if I just ask.And finally, I learned that Dale Murphy LOVES Red Velvet Pop Tarts. I am wonderfully blessed.
Happy New Year, friends!
Fearless in 2014!