It is that time of year where our dreams are consumed with white Christmas’, chestnuts roasting on an open fire with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. Unfortunately for some, a white Christmas turns blue, the chestnuts are burning rather than roasting and visions of long lines and short money dance in our heads.
After my relocation from Ohio to Florida a few years ago, I battled with a bad case of home sickness. I pretty much thought I was immune because I’ve always been free spirited and without ties to any one place. It turns out, I was more tethered to those tradition (and people I shared those traditions with) than I cared to admit or even realized. One of the things that helped me through this time of transition was to create new traditions. This period of my life is a rebirth of sorts, so it only made sense that new customs and traditions would be a part of said rebirth as well. So, with that said, I started baking because, to me, that’s what any red-blooded American woman does at this time of year. I then went to the local dollar store and loaded up on small cardboard gift boxes and filled them with my baked goodies. I drive a little red car, somewhat sleigh-like and I am rotund much like St. Nick, so it was just natural I’d load up my treats and make pit stops to the homeless with my little boxes of homemade holiday goodies. It might seem weird to you that someone would want to give the homeless cookies, but to me it just seemed like a natural way to spread some holiday cheer and keep me from wallowing in my sadness. They smiled, I smiled so all in all I’d say this is a successful new tradition!
The first holiday without a loved one or the first one you spend newly single can be especially rough. Memories come flooding back and leave us feeling the void of that special person. Every Hallmark movie has a happy ending and we tearfully sit on the couch, eating the Christmas cookies we didn’t deliver to the homeless all whilst drinking our selves into a state of deeper sadness. Two things here, 1) alcohol is a depressant. If you know you tend to struggle during this time of year, it might be wise to cut back on the bottle popping. No sense in exacerbating the situation, right?! 2) Allow yourself to be sad. Acknowledge the hurt, the loneliness, the sadness and then release it. There is absolutely someone out there who has it worse than you, but that doesn’t mean that THIS isn’t the worst to YOU. So, go ahead and process your feelings. There is no unwritten rule that says you aren’t allowed to miss someone who was a special part of your story.
I am the mother to 4 sons. I was a single mother to those same 4 sons for most of their lives. It goes without saying, my budget was tight. I struggled month to month to meet the demands of housing and utilities. Finding the “extra” money needed for Christmas was nothing less than a miracle. I had to be creative and admittedly, more often than not, found myself robbing Peter to pay Paul to make it through the yuletide season. One of my most memorable and creative Christmas memories to date is the year the boys and I collected pinecones to decorate the tree. We had lost most of our holiday decorations in a storage unit that didn’t get paid on time. Our Christmas tree was amongst the things auctioned off or disposed of. I didn’t have enough money to buy a real tree, but luckily I found a used tree at our local thrift store for next to nothing. It wasn’t anything much to look at it, but with a little TLC and some creativity (and lots of glitter and gold spray paint) the boys and I transformed that overly loved, artificial Christmas tree into something quite beautiful that we were ALL very proud of! The pinecones we gathered were dusted off and cleaned up. I then, along with the help of 4 very eager little boys, sprayed them in a can of gold spray paint. We drizzled gold glitter over the freshly painted cones and once they dried, attached a ribbon to the end. We bought some clear lights, a spool of wire ribbon and hung the pinecones on the tree. It was STUNNING! Things improved significantly for us in the years to come, but we had so much fun decorating our tree that Christmas, that we reused those same pinecones, ribbon and lights because the memory meant that much to us. And this was all BEFORE Pinterest folks! Today, I can hop on that site and give you a billion ideas to make Christmas a little easier on the budget with some pretty incredible DIY gifts.
As always, these are my experiences and I share them in the hope that it will help someone out there who reads my babbling blog. If you are one of the thousands of people who suffer from holiday or seasonal depression, my heart goes out to you. You are not alone, and your feelings are valid. If you need to talk to someone, my inbox is open to you. I am not a mental health professional, so if you feel like you need professional help or think that you might harm yourself PLEASE call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). This is a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL call. I hope you find happiness and peace this holiday season that lasts a lifetime! Godspeed.