I haven’t been here in a while. I have been experiencing some resistance to writing this blog, and I am not exactly sure why.
Well, that’s not totally true. Part of the reason is that I feel like a cranky elf who has been shot out of a Christmas cannon in the middle of Macy’s. The blinking lights, the aggressive shoppers, the store windows filled with freaky lounge-act puppets….
My brain feels like the Spin Art toy I had as a kid – the one where the paper spins around while you squirt it with different paints to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of color. I was an overly-aggressive squirter and my spin art usually ended up looking like dog poo.
It just all feels too much this year.
I know, I know. Bah humbug, right? Believe me, that only thing worse than my Grinch-like attitude is the guilt I experience as a result. This Christmas season reminds me of a party my roommates and I had in college. We had a brand new apartment on west campus, and threw an awesome party in our shiny new place. Everyone was having a great time until one of the party-goers – let’s call him Mike
because that’s his name – projectile puked into a standing, oscillating fan. He was a human puke sprinkler, showering the world with his bad choices.
This year, I feel like a Christmas Party Foul. I fan-puke on merriness and cheer.
I decided that If I couldn’t find my game face, maybe I should take myself out of the game. The first thing to go was the cards. I couldn’t seem to find the energy for it. The cheerful slogans seemed to be mocking me. But not doing a holiday card seemed so….scandalous. I tested the idea out on my friend Kat:
Great. It was decided. No cards.
But then I started thinking about it…what if the card boycott scarred my kids for life? What if this was their absolute favorite holiday tradition and I was fan-puking on it? By not doing a card, would they forever see me as the mother who simply could not “hold on to the magic,” or be “merry and bright?
Emma was helping me with the photo calendar we give my parents every year when I gently broached the topic with her.
“Hey Em, I am debating not doing a card this year.”
“I don’t know…we never got around to taking a picture.”
“Whatever Mom, it doesn’t need to be like a Vogue cover.”
“Yeah, I know…maybe…they are just kind of expensive. I thought maybe we could give the money to a good cause instead.”
She thought about this. “How about Max? We could donate to the hospital so the doctors might figure out how to make cancer medicines that only kill the bad cells and not the good ones.”
An old friend of mine has a 3 year old son with metastatic retinoblastoma. He has been at CHOP since September, and Emma I have been following their blog charting his progress and many challenges.
“Wow, Em. That is an amazing idea. That is exactly what we will do.”
“Ok, cool. Can I go play the IPad?”
I made the donation to neuro-oncology department at CHOP, and then finished up the calendar. But as I scrolled through the photos of my two healthy girls, I thought of 3 year old Mighty Max going through what no child should have to endure, and thought….
How can I not share these beautiful faces with the world?
So, I made a card. And it felt good.
Sometimes I think our resistance to resistance is what really sinks the ship. We feel like we need to be or feel certain way, and then when we don’t, we wonder, what the hell is wrong with me? When the only thing wrong with you is thinking there is something wrong with you.
Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at. Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. -Pema Chodron
I was at a yoga teacher training last Saturday, and I taught a 30 minute class for the other trainees. It was the first time I had taught in a while, and I was nervous about getting feedback. But the comments on my teaching style brought tears to my eyes:
“I felt like you were really present and yourself.”
“You are loving but not in a creepy way.”
“You are warm and welcoming.”
Huh. Who knew? Maybe I am not 100% Grinch, after all. Not the yoga percent, anyway. So that’s something.
The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves. Yes it’s never too late or too early to practice loving-kindness. -Pema Chodron
Maybe this Christmas season, the best gift we can give ourselves is a little compassion. Send the cards, don’t send the cards. Bake the cookies, buy the cookies, eat the cookies, screw the cookies all together. What if you can’t go wrong?
What if anything you choose to do is the perfect choice?
What if we stopped labeling choices as good or bad?
What if all choices were just….choices?
What you choose might surprise you.
Loved this, well worth waiting for. Give yourself a break every day. Merry Christmas!
Thank you Jane! A break every day – those are words to live by! Peace to you.
Ok, when I am going to see your perfect self? xoxo
Just remember you can’t go wrong because you still have your kids home for the holidays! You have no Idea how bad Christmas can be without them. Even just talking on the phone doesn’t do it! Gives me tears every year just to think about it! !!!!!!!!! Love Aunt Edna
It’s true, I am very lucky to have them, Aunt Edna! Big hugs to you, Uncle Larry and Matthew xoxo
Thank you for sharing it all with the world – all of you and all of them!
For you, anything! xoxo
I’m happy to read your blog whenever you are ready to share. Your last four sentences resonate with me. I read There Is Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber and your post reminded me of what Cheri was saying. I still struggle with these issues, but life is a process.
It sure is, Paul! And thank God for that! Thank you for reading and for your kind words.
I really needed this. I kind of hate Christmas and you totally let me off the hook. Thank you.
Lol, I am totally the off-the-hook friend! I figure everyone needs at least one;) It can be a tricky balance, but (sometimes) I find that when I let myself off the hook, I am free to show up for others in a more authentic way. Other times I am just being a lazy, cranky, self-centered piece of shit. But hey, it’s all an experiment. Peace and love to you, my friend. Namaste xoxo
Christmas is one of the worst times of year for me. I thank you for your words and your reluctant participation. I lost my better half some years ago and the holidays have not been the same since. I recently discovered our extremely tacky (beautiful) white Christmas tree with it’s purple lights and purple skirt are missing. It is presumed lost in my last move. I’ve been feeling pretty down about this but you’ve reminded me to be grateful for what I do have. I don’t know how or what I will do for Christmas and as Pamela said, thanks for letting me off the hook! -JM
Jeff, thank you so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so humbled and moved that anything I could write here brought you the slightest bit of comfort. I am so sorry for your loss. The holidays seem to shine a spotlight on our current emotional state, don’t they? And then all the pressure to be merry and bright. Sometimes I think our only choice is to try and find what brings us comfort, no matter how unconventional. Create new traditions to replace some of the old ones; the ones that are just too painful or impossible to re-create in your new reality. One of these years I am going to say, “ok kids, this year Christmas is in Costa Rica, and all we are getting from Santa are surfboards.” I am sending you healing energy across the blogosphere – thank you so much for reading and sharing your story here. Peace to you – Jessie
Yes, and that spotlight is blinding. (I shall be careful as to how this goes I have found if I let my words wander too far they can drag me into a dark place.) I am finding joy in the little things. The fond memories and my army of little dinosaurs. (my nieces and nephews, they call me Uncle Dinosaur 🙂 ) You are very kind thank you. Christmas in Costa Rica sounds amazing. (Random memory coming in) When I was a child I collected stamps and my favorite stamp was a very old stamp from Costa Rica. It had a beautiful beach scene and I always dreamt of running away and living on that beach. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!!! – JM