Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Ego has been Stroked...

WOW!  I feel good about myself!  People looked at my blog!  No one commented, but people looked!

I thought I was writing to myself (and my seven dedicated followers), but I signed on tonight out of curiosity (and insomnia, let's be honest here), and people had looked at this little blog of mine! I almost feel like a real writer. It's no wonder all those stay-at-home moms write about every detail of their day, post all their recipes online, and link every post on Facebook! It makes them feel important.

I feel a little like The Grinch, except instead of my heart growing, my head has grown three sizes today.

Speaking of all things holiday-related, the holidays are looming. Yes, that's right, looming. They're like a big, ominous black cloud over my head, threatening rain, sleet, hail, thunder, lightening and all other sorts of mischief. The only problem is, unlike other storms, the holidays involve everyone and they last six weeks.

I frequently enjoy a scenic drive from my house to my parents' house. I hop on crowded freeways, fight angry California drivers in luxury cars they can't afford as we race over the grapevine on I-5 into Central California's heartland. At the fork in the road, most of those lovely cars head for the scenic vistas offered in San Francisco. I, however, veer left and look towards oil fields and smog as the San Joaquin valley beckons me. Increasing my speed, I hover slightly above the ground zipping around silly farmers who think 70 miles per hour warrants driving in the fast lane.

Today I enjoyed a special treat. As I neared my halfway marker, I pulled over to get gas, some Butterfinger bites and a Pepsi Max, stretch my legs, and continue on my quest to beat my personal record time from downtown to my parents' house. As I walked back out to my car, it began to rain. Three hours later, I arrived, grumpy, frustrated, wet and one hour over my expected arrival time. My fellow travelers forgot how to drive this evening. Holiday cheer left my soul, and I hollered at them from my car, knowing that my exasperation coupled with my sharp remarks would improve my driving conditions.

As I neared my destination, it dawned on me. These people were most likely not traveling for yet another round of doctor's appointments like me. They were on their way to a relaxing holiday vacation. They were making memories, dang it. I passed one minivan where the passenger, most likely a mother, was reading a bedtime story to the children in back. My comments to that car are not exactly suitable for this forum. I'm embarrassed to admit that I did not find this family togetherness I was witnessing to be sweet. It was a nuisance. It was, to me, too quaint, too perfect, too happy.

You see, in many respects the holidays bring back some painful memories for me. They remind me that my life isn't exactly the way I'd like it to be. I don't have that picturesque family in a minivan. I'm not reading stories to my children. I'm reading creepy crime novels to myself at night and hoping I don't have nightmares. I'm not cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for my family, I'm going to be the female version of Dan in Real Life sans disgruntled children in tow, sleeping in the corner, woeful about life, listening to advice about how to be happy. Last Christmas I slept on an air mattress in my sister's home office. I had to deflate the thing every morning so people could get to the shower.

I didn't sing one carol last year, I didn't put up a tree, there were no halls to deck, no turkeys to carve. I spent most of Thanksgiving in my room, peeved that my cousin had to cook everything HIS way and that my gluten free food was taking up space in the kitchen. In a valiant effort to help me feel the holiday spirit, my aunt bought me a hot pink tree with beautiful ornaments and begged me to help her trim her own tree. I acquiesced. She'd just had shoulder surgery. How could I say no? I'm not THAT cruel.

Fast forward to this year. Disgruntled as I was with all the merry travelers this evening, I decided I needed both a sanity check and an attitude adjustment. Rather than going to my parents' home directly and spreading my cheerful outlook with them, I went straight to a support group held on Wednesday nights at our church. It's geared towards family and friends of addicts. Tonight's message was about coping with the stress brought on by the holidays. Apropos, no? It was just the dose of holiday cheer I needed. It worked almost as well as Xanax! I realized that, rather than focusing on the past, I need to look at the present, enjoy the good, and do what I can.

I'm hoping to spend half a day in my room this year.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll trim a small tree for good measure as well.

The moral of the story? Be kind to others this holiday season. You never know what kind of battle someone is facing. If you see a scrooge or a grinch, show some compassion, some love, and give the poor guy some chocolate!

If you are a scrooge or a grinch, put on your bah humbug hat and try to be a good sport. Don't be too hard on yourself. Just do the best you can. Enjoy the good things about the season, but don't rehash the old, bad memories. Talk to a trusted friend, have a good cry if you need to, drink some hot coffee or cocoa by a warm fire, read a crime novel, regroup and then try again tomorrow!

Now, let's hope the next six weeks pass quickly!

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