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.
It is officially “cuffing season” and ya girl Miz Cook wants to weigh in on the notion and give some advice to those who might be yearning for a partner. I am by NO MEANS an expert on relationships. But I do consider myself an expert observer of human behavior, so with that being said, I think I might have some useful information for you as we enter this time of year where being single is really for the birds.
For a definition of this phenomenon, I went straight to Urban Dictionary because, well, I don’t think this is a Webster’s kind of thing. UD gave several “definitions”, but the gist is, when it gets cold outside and as the holidays approach, being single is less alluring. This time of year can be lonely, so it is common for single folks to link up and become involved in a relationship. But before you jump the gun OR the broom, read on and mull over my thoughts.
It is my honest opinion and belief that before you can extend and share love with anyone else, you must fully love YOURSELF. Too often we look for the missing pieces of ourselves in another person. Several years ago, I went through a pretty messy and painful break up. I sought counseling to help me navigate my way through some of my emotions. One of the things I learned, in a very tearful session, that I carry with me to this day is this; when you are in a relationship, in order for it to be successful, you must see yourself and your partner as a full circle. Each of you are (or should be) complete on your own- autonomous. When you join your circles together, you create a third circle, also complete, that represents your relationship. But if you remove that third circle created by the joining of the original two, those two circles are still whole. Did you follow me, because in my brain, I explained that spot on…reality doesn’t always align with my brain though, so my fingers are truly crossed on this one because I REALLY want you to understand what I am trying to say here...it is the premise of this entire article. Self-love is imperative (no, not THAT kind of self-love-freaks) before you can try to love anyone else romantically. Sometimes, despite the way it makes us feel, what we need more than a relationship is to be completely and fully single and grow comfortable with ourselves. Date yourself-take yourself to dinner or the movies or shopping or to the beach to watch a sunrise or sunset. Get to know YOU, what do you like to do? Who are you? When you are comfortable with and enjoy your own company, you carry yourself with a confidence that attracts people to you.
Now, let’s talk about when cuffing season ends. Usually right around Spring break, you will see all kinds of Instagram photos captioned #teamsolo or Facebook posts with a single pair of feet in the sand. Why is that? Because nothing lasts forever…all good things come to an end. And when they do, I implore you to refrain from airing your dirty laundry on the same venues you posted your bliss. Because why? Because one day soon, it will again be cuffing season and you will again be sending out pheromones attempting to attract a mate. Pheromones are strong, but words, they are even stronger. So don’t let yours come back to bite you in the badonk. Hurting after a breakup is natural. It is as much a part of the cycle as courting itself. But posting about how your ex did you wrong, or any subliminal, bitter posts of the same genre for that matter, won’t fare well with someone who sees you as a potential love interest. At least not someone who is WHOLE.
Pardon the cheesy analogy here, but this is where this whole conversation comes full-wait for it…CIRCLE 😉 A whole person will seek another whole person. And whole people are less likely to be messy, or malicious, or downright ugly when it comes to matters of the heart. So, as you swim through the pond looking for your fish, keep these thoughts and pointers in mind. Hopefully, they resonate with you and you find them useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback from this post, so do me a solid and chat it up below! Thanks for reading!