Our miniature dashboard tree is decorated with red bows and multi-colored glitter ornaments with a small nativity nearby. I’ve made the kids’ favorite white chocolate pretzel mix, the puppy chow (not for puppies–Chex with chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar), and peppermint bark. The cookie dough ingredients are ready to be baked before the kids arrive in the next few days. The ham is in the fridge and I’m as prepared as possible for the meal preparation. I’m waiting on two more packages, but the rest of the presents are wrapped and ready to go. All three daughters will be together this Christmas–a rare occurrence–so it should be a perfect holiday. Reservations are made for our Christmas Eve Eve tradition at our favorite Italian restaurant, and we have plans to visit the drive-through Christmas light display (slide show below). I’ve made a valiant effort to make things festive and I’m determined to get through the holidays as lighthearted as possible for my family.
There’s only one hitch, it’s a going-through-the-motions thing and not a heart-felt love for the holiday season. I’ve perfected the fake-it-’til-you-make it Christmas cheer while trying to hide underlying sadness. I remember Christmas mornings as a small child and how wonderful it was to get my favorite toy from Santa. My grandparents always hosted Christmas Eve. I sat close to my beloved grandfather opening gifts while munching on Christmas cookies. Those memories are near and dear and probably the last I remember with a full heart of joy. Our family had a string of tragedies, starting with the sudden loss of my grandfather and several young family members in the years to follow. With each traumatic loss came a profound sadness. It was hard to get in the spirit of the holiday. The gifts rang hollow and family gatherings gradually dwindled.
It’s not a matter of dwelling too much in the past or being overly cognizant of the losses, the heart comes to a place where it accepts and moves on. The constant stimuli of love, peace, joy, family and friends, gatherings, parties, etc., can exacerbate or enhance the melancholy in the hearts of people susceptible to the holiday blues. I’m extremely blessed to have a family who understands my emotional moods around the holidays and accept my snappish bursts of temper and immediate apologies with understanding. They go with the flow if I’m crying one minute and laughing the next. I have people who love me and know the reasons behind my holiday moodiness. Many people do not have a solid support system with the feeling of family or community. The season of peace and joy can be the loneliest time of year.
I’ve learned to shift my focus from Christmases past to Christmas present. I am going to enjoy the time with my family and marinate in their exuberance for the season. It’s their love that lifts my spirits and makes the emotions of the season easier to navigate.
Please, reach out to someone who may be lonely or could be struggling with the holiday sensory overload. Don’t try to force the joy of the season on them, just accept them where they are. Let them know they are loved and understood. Even though high spirits may not be returned, people will always remember kindness.
It’s my wish every single person reading this has the amazing blessings of love of family, acceptance of who we are, and hope in the wonderful adventures the new year will bring.
Random Bits of Trial and Error wishes you a blessed and merry Christmas and a happy new year filled with experiences outside of the comfort zone.
Love from my heart,
Happy Trails and Merry Christmas. (Big Red keeps asking about Lexie. Please giver her his regards)
Merry Christmas to you, also! Lexie sends her regards to Big Red with hopes he finds a special doggy toy under the tree!
happy christmas and such wonderful reminders )
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Dawn, you truly are my sister! I have been sad for many years around Christmas! Until this year! I have many people(5) fighting for their lives! One in particular, friend/coworker, is fighting for tomorrow. I am healthy, loved and have what I need and decided this year will be different and it is! I am healthy and the odds are good, I will be here and I will embrace everyday to its fullest! I love your blogs, heart and spirit! Hang in there! Love you and Mike with all my heart! I need lots of pics of all of my beautiful nieces!
We will take LOTS of pictures!
I’m so sorry for your losses and the sadness. Christmas can be complicated. You want to be cheery but there’s an emptiness when you’re missing people. I pray for you that this year, with all your daughters together, you can let the pain fall away and be healed by fullness of your family, all brought together by you. Blessings to you all.
Christmas is complicated! Wishing you many, many blessing this Christmas season and ALWAYS! Dawn
Looks festive! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and safe travels!!! See ya soon!
Thanks, Mike! Merry Christmas!
Your tree looks great, and you sound ready. I hope you can enjoy the season gathering with your three daughters without too much underlining sadness. Merry Christmas. 🙂
Having them all together is such a blessing, and I’m so incredibly thankful! Merry Christmas to you and yours!
I totally understand, Dawn. My childhood Christmases were huge extended family affairs and would be so full of fun and sharing. After my dad passed (35 years ago) my mom tried to keep things going but it wasn’t the same and slowly, as the family moved farther apart (both in distance and emotionally) we stopped getting together at all. Now we each have our own family gatherings and while it is nice to visit with our kids, they are adults now and my decorating the house has gone from something in every room to a broken Charlie Brown Christmas tree I got at a discount at Michaels a few years ago. I just don’t have the energy or inclination to pull out all the lighted village houses or string lights outside. Not really Bah Humbug, just lack of interest. I agree about watching out for people who are alone, though. I know it can be a very difficult time for some. Happy Merry Christmas to you and Mike, Dawn. I am grateful for our blogging friendship. Janet
I’m so grateful for our friendship, also! Wishing you and your family a beautiful Christmas!
Saw this and deemed it ok for an old salt. To you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
A Sailor’s Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived in a crowd, In a 40 man berthing, with shipmates so loud. I had come down the exhaust stack with presents to give, And to see just who in this rack did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight did I see, No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree. No stockings were hung, just boot close at hand, On the bulkhead hung pictures of far distance land.
He had medals and badges and awards of all kind, And a sober thought came into my mind. For this place was different, it was so dark and dreary, I had found the house of a sailor, once I could see clearly.
The sailor lay sleeping, silent and alone, Curled up in his rack, dreaming of home. The face was so gentle, the berthing in such good order, Not how I pictured a United States Sailor.
Was this the hero whom I saw on TV? Defending his country so we all could be free? I realized the families that I’ve seen this night, Owed their lives to these sailors who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play, And grownups would celebrate a new Christmas Day. They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year, Because of the sailor, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many lay alone, On a cold Christmas Eve on a sea, far from home. The very thought brought a tear to my eye, I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The sailor awakened and I heard a rough voice, “Santa, don’t cry, for this life is my choice.” “Defend the seas this day, So others may rejoice.” The sailor rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep. I kept watch for hours so silent, so still, And we both shivered from the night’s cold chill. I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight. Then the sailor rolled over and with a voice soft and pure, Whispered, “Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, All is Secure.” Merry Christmas to one and all.
On Sun, Dec 17, 2017 at 8:19 AM, Random Bits of Trial and Error wrote:
> randombitsoftrialanderror posted: ” Our miniature dashboard tree is > decorated with red bows and multi-colored glitter ornaments with a small > nativity nearby. I’ve made the kids’ favorite white chocolate pretzel mix, > the puppy chow (not for puppies–Chex with chocolate, peanut butter, and” >
I love that poem, and it’s so appropriate for the season. Thank you so much for sharing, Sir. Wishing a wonderful holiday to you and yours. Dawn
Merry Christmas to you too. Try to enjoy what you have this Christmas as it sounds like it will be a great one 😊
It’s going to be wonderful. i just work on shifting my focus, and it all comes together. Merry Christmas to you!
I love your miniature Christmas tree. I’ll be praying that this Christmas will be an especially meaningful one and that the ghosts of the past will flit by quickly.
Thank you, Anne! I’ve so many blessings and I try hard to concentrate on each one of them. Having the girls together will be wonderful! Wishing you and your family a lovely holiday and a blessed new year!
I’m so glad you’ll have the girls with you. We’ll have both grandsons and their uncle. Merry Christmas!!!
Love your honesty, Dawn. I struggle with depression and find it hard to share how I’m really feeling at times of the year when I’m supposed to be joyous. I’m glad you have the love and support of your family.
BTW, I sent you an email about our plans over the next month.
Thanks, Julie. It’s a rough time of year for so many people and there’s a stigma about speaking out. I did get your e-mail and sent you a reply–hope we can work around the ‘fly in the ointment.’ Dawn
Dawn, I appreciate your honesty in this post, this baring of your heart. You have faced incredible loss and I am sorry for that. Nothing I can say will remove that underlying grief which remains. But I read also in your words an incredible strength and resolve to enjoy life, to appreciate this rare Christmas with all three of your daughters.
Your suggestion of extending kindness to others who are also hurting is spot on. For me, it’s what people don’t say that often hurts the most. I can’t go into detail, but suffice to say that extended family gatherings have become increasingly more difficult for me. I try to be kind and interested and ask about their children and their lives. But when that is never reciprocated, it’s hurtful.
I wish for you a most blessed Christmas of precious time with your girls and the rest of your family who clearly love you with depth.
Well put. Merry Christmas and happy New Year. I loved this heart felt post.
Love the post. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy, and healthy, New Year filled with safe travels.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, also! Wishing many wonderful adventures now and always!