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Thoughts about the holidays

Happy Holidays 2014! 

Hope that everyone had a great time with family and friends this holiday season. We have enjoyed all of the things we have been able to do with family and friends and the gifts we have given and received.

I’m sitting at the dining room table gazing at our Christmas tree. Looking at the lights and each ornament, remembering its significance to our family. One happens to catch my eye; two pair of boots, one for a dad and one for his son. It commemorates Sam’s first year hunting with the boys in 2013. Many airplane ornaments hang on our tree showing that Sam and I are pilots. And the favorite dog ornaments with pictures of Molly commemorating each year she has been with us.

As a kid, it was so hard to wait for the holidays to come. From winter break, to seeing what Santa had for us and being able to stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year. Now as adults, we put in the work our parents did for us, picking out the gifts, writing out the cards, setting up the tree, and visiting friends and family. As I have grown up, the meaning of the holidays has changed, from the one who just experiences it to the one who creates the experience.

It’s an honor to create the holiday experience for those we love. Playing Santa and staying up late to build a bike, even though the instructions are as clear as mud. Standing in line for hours at the toy store to get that specific toy that will make Christmas just right. Baking the goodies for all of the dinners, school and work activities. I smile a lot when I’m wrapping gifts and putting each one under our tree. Anticipating how happy they will be when we unwrap them the next day.

With all of the good things the holidays bring, sometimes I wonder why I’m so relieved when they are over. Part of it is all of the work that goes into it, but I enjoy seeing how the hard work pays off. The smiling faces of family and friends with what they have received from us or how our meals or desserts turned out. Another part of it is giving the time to write out cards, decorate the tree, put lights on the house. All things I really enjoy doing.

Sometimes putting this experience together takes away the time we get for ourselves to relax and get other projects done. But, during the holidays, a lot of projects go on hold. On the other hand, the holidays can also be a motivator to get some of those procrastinated projects done before having family and friends over to celebrate. So, I still don’t really know why I can feel relieved that they are over when I enjoy them so much.

Other people in my life have had different experiences that have affected me this year. My Uncle suffered a mild stroke. He was in the hospital for a couple of days and is now at home working with a physical therapist to get his strength back. One of our neighbors had a massive stroke and passed away on Christmas Eve. A childhood friend’s dad passed away this past fall. I consider my family very fortunate that my uncle will be o.k. I think a lot about the children of our neighbor and my childhood friend. It will be a very different experience for them celebrate Christmas without a parent this year, just like it has been for me the last six years.

After the holidays in Minnesota, it turns into at least three months of winter, and either being huddled inside catching up on indoor projects or enjoying an outdoor winter sport. It becomes a great time for me to research and write, for Sam to go ice fishing, and for the kids to go snowboarding. For others, it will be dealing with a loss and accepting how different it feels to be without them. Our loved ones will always be with us in spirit, but it isn’t the same as it was when they were here. So, when I start to wonder why I feel relieved that the holidays are over, I’m reminded that those feelings are important to me, but are not a big deal compared to what others have to deal with. Be grateful for what you have during the holidays and always.

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