Happy Holidays Everyone!
I’ve been taking a little break from the blog, from decluttering projects, from doing laundry… you know, all non-essentials. 😉
This is my first Christmas without my dad, and also the first Christmas where both of my kids are old enough to actually enjoy the magic of Santa. It’s been very bittersweet, and there have been many times that I have had a clear vision of myself on a roller coaster. White knuckles, loving it and hating it at the same time, just holding on for dear life. Before the holidays even got rolling, I knew I needed a survival plan. So, I decided to simplify.
I like to think of it like I am going into some sort of minimalist hibernation.
I don’t have a lot of emotional strength in reserves right now, and so I needed to remove all the extras. I needed to declutter my holiday to the absolute bare essentials so that I could live it as fully as possible.
Here is how I am surviving and thriving this holiday:
1. Selective Cancelling
I was once called a “raging introvert,” so Step One in getting through this holiday in one piece was to cancel the parties and gatherings.
I. Just. Can’t. The talking, the socializing… it can be so fun, but it can also be draining, and I don’t have it in me this year.
And that’s ok.
There was one exception. Some dear friends of ours invited us to the mountains. Skiing, hot tub, fireplace, snow… these are a few of my faaaaavorite things! And these friends of ours, along with their family, are so warm and kind and real and are the type of people that just invite you to BE YOU. Shoes off, feet on the couch, swearing-like-a-sailor, laughing and crying YOU. That kind of gathering didn’t drain me, in fact I think it saved me. Thank you so much, T family and TR and WR. I am full of gratitude for you all.
2. I did my best with presents and let the rest go
I had a whole post planned on what strategies I was implementing for keeping the holiday toy-splosion to a minimum, but then, you know… Hibernation.
I will write about it next year, but for now I will just say that I made a list and I did a decent job of sticking to it. I just plopped down in front of my laptop one night and gave my Amazon Prime a good workout. I didn’t worry about budget or sales because none of the items on the kids’ wishlists were even close to big ticket. It took me one night and it was done. My husband bought himself his presents because he is Superhusband. And we drew names for all the adults in my family (THANK GOD) and just had one person to buy for. I am sure I missed some people,
and that’s ok,
because anyone I would be buying a gift for is someone that loves me and has nothing but grace for me. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure seemed that way.
3. I spent a lot of time alone
Turns out, Holiday Hibernation is a dish best served solo. I have a very wonderful friend who reached out to me when my dad died and gave me the only advice (pretty much the only conversation) I actually remember from that time.
He said, “Grieve unapologetically.”
Accordingly, there have been lots of long hot baths, lots of meditation (in bed, under the covers… SO WHAT!?), lots of tears and alone time, and it has saved me. My sweet daughter even said to me, as we drove to my mom’s for our Christmas celebration, “But Nana doesn’t have an upstairs or a living room. Where will you go if you need to cry and feel better?” She wasn’t sad or pitying me. She was being observant and savvy… at 6 years old she sees that sometimes you just need a little alone time and a little cry.
And that’s ok.
4. I simplified dinner. And everything else.
Beef Wellington became Shepard’s Pie. No homemade whipped cream with Daddy’s French Toast. There may have been some mac and cheese, take-out, and hot dogs in there somewhere. And we all survived!
You guessed it… OK.
5. I stopped drinking alcohol.
I know what you are thinking… NOT OK.
I get it…If there is any time to have a nice big glass of wine, it’s when you are sad and stressed, right? I had several reasons for doing this, but I think more important are the benefits… which probably deserve their own post. Hmmmm.
For now I will just say that I was there for it all. I was present. I felt my way through the holiday, joy and grief and pain and loss and all. I will never have to do the first holiday after losing my dad again. It would have been easy to numb myself a bit, but then I knew next year would be just as hard. I wanted to go through it, get through it, and look forward to next year.
Bonus: I facilitated the easiest declutter of my life
Picture it: Christmas morning. Kids are psyched about all their new stuff, they can’t wait to rip into all those new toys. Boxes EVERYWHERE. I grab three big Amazon boxes and told the kids that we needed to make room for all these new toys, and to please run around and gather some things to donate. They instantly made it like a game, and those 3 boxes were filled in minutes! My husband and I just looked at each other, quietly picked up the boxes, and slinked off to the laundry room. And then high-fived.
Overall, it’s been a beautiful and restorative holiday. I have had lots of time home with my incredible husband. We’ve had more talks, more movies and popcorn, and lots more snuggling with the kids. It’s been wonderful.
So my friends, I hope this holiday is treating you well. I am so grateful that we are all on this path together. I appreciate all the support so much. I am so thankful to have this space with all of you!