The holidays are right around the corner – for better or worse. I can’t say that I’ve always been a cheery holiday person, even as a child. We had some crappy Christmases when I was little, and then, in 1982, I found out I’d be having a December baby. Wow! What a chance to change my Scrooge attitude! My sweet little man arrived silently in the wee hours of December 11, and died five days later. Mark was born on a Saturday, buried the next Saturday, and Christmas was the following Saturday.
That first Christmas was a blur. I know we went to visit some relatives but I don’t remember who or what we did. The next year, however, as soon as Halloween was over, when stores cleared out the leftover costumes and candy, I was blasted with how empty my heart was while the rest of the world (or so it seemed) was shopping, partying, eating, and having a grand ole time. The commercialism of the season was enough to make me a bigger bah-humbugger than Scrooge, but when I thought about Jesus and the “reason for the season,” my heart really broke. Christmas is celebrating the birth of a baby boy, and mine was gone.
I admit I was a complete and unapologetic bah-humbugger for a long time – years actually. Even when I had living sons to celebrate with, I still struggled through the holidays, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I kept it to myself, not wanting to spoil anyone’s cheer or damper my little boys’ Christmas, but it was HARD.
One year, as I was journaling through baby Mark’s birthday, I was thinking about the gifts he and his life have given me. It finally came to me that it was another gift of his that he was born and died in December. I remember Mark’s gifts to me more during this season of giving and receiving gifts. Perhaps his legacy wouldn’t have been so powerful for me if he had been born and died at some other time. I’ll never know, but I’m now grateful Mark came to me when he did . . . my very perfect Christmas present, my forever baby. His gifts have never stopped coming and usually in the most wonderful and surprising ways.
This change of perspective was what it took for me to toss my bah-humbugger attitude aside in favor of remembering the love in my heart. I can get through the holidays now with less bottled up anger and frustration.
With that said, I’m not going to tell you that I am ecstatic over the holidays . . . no. I still hate the commercialism and mindless gift giving. But when I need to be out amongst the hoards of shoppers or attend parties and family gatherings, I simply choose to modify my attitude to one of gratitude and love. For those few hours, I can breathe deeply, slow down my monkey mind, and find joy in the moment—I’m there in the moment. When that time is up, I’m free to go back to whatever mood the monkey mind wants. Often though, because I’ve made the effort, I feel exhausted and I rely on my little list of self-care tools:
• Watch a funny movie with my sweetie
• Read a delicious novel
• Yoga (although if the outing involved eating, this won’t work)
• Meditating for 15 minutes
• Take a delicious bath
• Write to my guardian angels
• Take a walk depending on the crazy winter weather
• And now that I have a puppy, I can come home and play with him!
For me, paying attention to self-care makes a huge difference in how I get through the holidays. When I’m rushing around with everyone else and working long hours, my bah-humbugger does a humdinger on my attitude. I confess – I frequently want to puke when I want into a mall with Christmas tunes blaring! At that point, I stop and draw in a deep breath. (Remembering to breathe through the holidays is one of the best bits of advice I can offer!) I remember the gifts my sweet baby Mark left me, and I remember that I have a choice in how I respond to the chaos. I choose to be positive and grateful. Sometimes I have to ask for help to do that. Sometimes I need to retreat into a little solitude. Sometimes I need to blast some tunes and forget the world. And quite often, I breathe into the season, I slow way down as the world speeds up, and I rejoice that I’ve been gifted with this life.
If you’re struggling through the holidays this year for whatever reason, and you’d like someone to share your angst with, please feel free to connect with me. I understand how hard it is, and I would love to help.
If you are going through infertility or the grieving the loss of a baby, here are a couple of support resources that can help from StorkNet.
Love and peace ♥