Friday, December 21, 2012

Imperfect and Stress Free Christmas?

The holiday season is here. It's a strange time for me. I process so many different thoughts and emotions and I just don't know what I really believe in. 

I was raised in a Jehovah's Witness home. Well, up until I was 8. I had my first Christmas then. I never really felt that I missed out on anything by not having Christmas, but my brother and sister probably did. They were older, I was pretty young when it all changed. I never knew the fascination with Santa or the anticipation of gifts. For my first Christmas, I had to learn to keep my beliefs to myself and pretend to believe in Santa for my step-brothers. That was strange.

Now, I have children of my own. I openly admit that I go overboard at this time of year. Perhaps making the holiday more magical for my kids, makes it more magical for me as well. Yes, Santa visits our house every year and the kids are all excited right now. I look forward to Santa's visit just as much as they do. But, it's different.

Santa isn't about the naughty or nice list in my house. Santa isn't a creepy stalker that watches them while they sleep. Santa, and the Spirit of Christmas, is all about selfless acts. This is the time of year that we give without expectations, in fact we don't go seeking credit for any of the gifts we give. This is the time of year that I might buy coffee for the guy behind me in the drive thru more. This is when I will go out of my way to snuggle on the couch past bedtime, just to let the kids watch that Christmas special that is on at the worst time ever. (Who really thinks that it's right to START the show at bedtime?? Darn TV networks!) 

Santa gives. To everyone he can. And it's not just about necessities, it's the luxury items that we don't get through the year. It's a reminder that everyone deserves a little bit of happiness. We can be serious and hard working all year, but at Christmas we take time to enjoy the extras. 

My kids are spoiled. They rarely want for anything and I am thrilled that it can be this way now. It hasn't always been. But, my kids also understand money. They work for things they want. They know that we can't just shell out cash at every store, every day. They understand priorities and can sort needs from wants. They are smart, and because they normally don't whine for things, they get a lot more given to them. They are spoiled, but not spoiled brats.

Christmas isn't commercial here. Christmas is about the family time. One of the best things, the thing that the kids and I enjoy and remember most each year, is that Christmas day is the only day where we purposely try to stay at home in PJ's all day. We could rush out right after presents to visit everyone in the family, squeeze in multiple dinners at relatives. But we don't. Christmas day is mine. Instead of tearing into gifts and tossing them aside to leave, perhaps rush off to the next house and next set of gifts, we play. We share. We giggle. We build. We watch movies or sing songs. We savour the morning. We love when people come to visit us too, but it's really the only day of the year that we all try to just stay home and stay together. 

Macboy is almost 13. I know I don't have much of this time left. Soon, he'll want to go to friends or (yikes!!) even girlfriends homes.... So I will enjoy every second I can.

I don't think I could give up Christmas and go back to the religion I was raised, but I do know that I don't celebrate Christmas like anyone I know. Except my brother and sister, they are pretty close too. We're different and we're all okay with it. 

This year really proves it all. It is almost Christmas Eve and my tree still isn't decorated. In fact, we just picked it up a few days ago. We've got only half of our decorating done and about 3/4 of our baking done. I still even have shopping to do!! This has got to be the most imperfect and disorganized holiday we've ever had in this house. But, oddly, I think this is the most peaceful holiday I've experienced so far. I am not frustrated or stressed about being behind. We've had a lot of fun that has taken our time away. Why force things to happen in a certain way? 

Who cares what your tree looks like if the kids love it. Who cares if you even have a tree at all! Not one person has come into my house and said "Wow, you haven't done that yet?!?!?" Truthfully, everyone here is just waiting for the time off from school and work! We will finish everything just in time for the Big Man. And he won't decide to leave less in the stocking because I have less decorations up.

My gift to you, to anyone who reads these words, is a reminder that Christmas isn't about rushing or stressing, it is not about getting gifts or buying expensive stuff, it's not even about charity and giving to the less fortunate. Christmas, my dear friends is about love and sharing. So, stop stressing. Start loving. Bake imperfect cookies WITH your kids. Forget the nitpicky village on the mantel - you know the one, that big thing with fake snow that gets dragged all over the house, the one with the awesome looking pieces that the kids aren't even allowed to PLAY with - who will judge you for not putting it up? Volunteer or donate somewhere because you love your neighbour, not because you need to 'give back.'

Put yourself in a giving mood, look through the eyes of your children and remember what really matters right now. It's all the same things that are important year round.

So breathe.... and embrace imperfection. 
That's what makes it all special!.

Enjoy your holiday.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Spirit of The Season

Another year is drawing to a close. It's amazing how fast this year has gone and how much has changed. I think we don't realize the passing of time in quite the same way until we have children. Not to say that you have to have kids, but it sure drives the point home! Looking at the complete change in clothing, since they've outgrown all the clothes they wore a year ago, is amazing. The subtle changes in their faces are awe-inspiring. My little people are turning into grown ups before my eyes. 

Even Angel Baby. She was so painfully shy a year ago. Now, she is a chatty little girl. She still gets overwhelmed from too many visitors, but she is opening up to those that are close to us. She is learning, oh my is she learning, all kinds of things. She can name her letters and numbers. She can almost count to 20 without help. She is writing some of her letters. She has a defined sense of humor that I just adore. She is definitely not a baby anymore, she is my big girl in all ways.

Art has really come into his own. Being on his own at school this year, since Macboy has moved on to junior high, he is truly becoming more independent everyday. He is a sensitive boy, but is learning better ways to cope with his frustrations. He is sporty and attentive and organized and so, so smart. He's also grown a few good inches this year. He amazes me, and I tell him that often.

Macboy.... I can't even begin to tell you the changes he's shocked me with. It is enough that I want to scream at the teachers of the past "Look at him, he's doing exactly what I told you he could. If you would have just listened to me and pushed just that little bit!!!" He has gone from modified school work and lower expectations to exceeding the expectations of all of his teachers. One has even told me that he taught her a few things already this year. His self esteem is skyrocketing, simply because his teachers don't just demand things and not follow through, but they truly believe in him. I am so very proud of him. His Tourrettes is barely visible now, which is a great indication of lower stress within him. I am .... there are just no words for how I really feel. Inspired is one, but it doesn't say it all.

I transitioned from working at home to just being at home. I've had a few little odd jobs and spent more time writing. I am getting my home in order and taking care of myself and my marriage. Two things that definitely lost my focus while I was trying to do too many things at once. I have my english degree in sight and am working towards getting to full time university. September 2013, I will be starting school along with the Angel Baby. For all of those people of my past who have told me I'm crazy, or that I can't do it, I will. I have had three wonderful reasons showing me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. 

Unfortunately, I know I can write but no one else really does. I have buckets of words to share, but I'm not quite at the point of making a living off of it. Many items I wrote for work belong to the company, not me, so I can't really use the materials in a portfolio. I feel I need something behind my name to prove that I CAN. 

My goal of my novel by Christmas hasn't worked out well, and Nanowrimo just didn't work for me this year either. But... I am not giving up. Ever. I look forward to the day that I hold a book in my hands that has my name on the cover. It will happen. Even if I only publish one copy, just so I can hold it myself. I will see it happen.

So much has changed this year and has filled me with gratitude. And that is the spirit of the season. Being thankful and giving back. Helping those I can, because I've had help more than once. I am surrounded by love, another part of the spirit of the season. There is peace in my home unlike ever before. I look forward to another spectacular and challenging year of growth and change in my life.

Thank you, for spending another year visiting my little blog. I'm humbled by how much the community has grown without any real efforts on my part. I'm just doing what I feel I need to do for myself.

Do you feel these wonderful things in December? Or do you feel the stress of the Christmas season and expectations? I wish for Peace for all of you.