Navigating the Journey Into Christmas

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Christmas is almost upon us. I have one friend who is working an acquisition at his company, and he is unsure if he’s going to make it home for Christmas. He managed a short visit with his parents this weekend in anticipation of missing the holiday. He’s taking bets on whether or not he’ll be there on the holy day. Another friend’s Mother died this year, and they have opted out of the holiday completely. She said Thanksgiving was so brutal that they are just not up for doing anything for Christmas. Yet another friend is in the middle of a divorce, and she took a tropical vacation. She’s posting pics of Christmas cleavage, sandy beaches and key lime pie.

I was just looking at the weather forecast, and they are already forecasting an apocalyptic storm that will strand travelers at airports all over the country. It’s kind of amazing to me that Christmas goes on at all sometimes. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never been one of those stuck in an airport over the holiday, but I certainly know people who have been. It seems that every year there’s a massive storm that messes up the holiday for at least one area of the country. One year there was a massive snowstorm while we were traveling from Chicago to New Orleans on the City of New Orleans. The heat went out on the train, so we practically froze to death that night in the sleeper car, but the train keeps rolling even when there’s snow. We pulled into the Memphis station, and the streets were like ice rinks. Not a car was to be seen. We were traveling a lot slower that day to the weather, so we ordered a bottle of wine and partied as we watched Yazoo City fly by. We took a nap before we got to the Big Easy, and a Merry Christmas was had by all. Obviously, this was before I stopped drinking. It was one of my better memories. The fact that I remembered it at all was an accomplishment.

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I know people who have nowhere to go for Christmas. I know people who don’t want to go where they have to go for Christmas. I know people who want to go where they have to go but only for an hour or so tops. There are others who have so many places to go that their itineraries rival O’Hare’s flight schedule. And then there are those folks who actually enjoy their families, and can’t wait to go. One of the local 12-step houses is having an Alka-thon on Christmas. They will have a meeting every hour on the hour for those folks who are having a difficult time making it through the holiday without alcohol. The holidays can actually be very, very stressful… and that’s even before you add all of the unplanned expense.

Last year I had the holiday blues really bad. So, this year I’m putting plans in place to be connected and try to avoid the worst of it. This evening I was starting to feel a little down. I took a walk with Ashok and cooked a healthy dinner. I feel much better now. I’ll take an Epsom Salt bath after I’m done writing and retire early. A good night’s sleep should help. I’m looking forward to my week off this year. I’ll be visiting the homeplace of Steel Magnolias, a new friend in Huntsville AL, and an old friend in Tennessee. I’m sure it pass by like a whirlwind, and I’ll be hurtling toward my 54th birthday in January before I can say St. Nick.

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Anyway, I think we should all focus on the reason for the season and remember that it’s a remembrance of a grand event that changed the world forever. They say Jesus was really born in July or August or something, and, honestly, today it feels like summer in Baton Rouge. I took a walk with my dog in shorts and a t-shirt. The Christmas lights were twinkling on all the homes, and I was sweating. It’s just bizarre. But, maybe down here it’s more like the real Christmas than a white Christmas ever is. My sister-in-law and I looked up ‘Yule’ Friday because we had no clue what it meant. It was actually the name of the pagan festival that became the Christmas holiday season. I imagine that in days when people really lived by the seasons, a winter festival celebrating something wonderful was just what they needed to keep them from going crazy in the dark, cold, snowy days.

If you are feeling down, don’t beat yourself up. More people are depressed around the holidays than any other time. It will pass. You could do some things to help yourself out. Up your self-care. Don’t fill up with sugar and alcohol. They are both depressants. Take a trip. Get a change of scenery. Exercise. Laugh. There are lots of funny things around at Christmas to help out with the stressful time. Make it a point to watch Scrooged with Bill Murray or A Christmas Story. I know they have nothing to do with Jesus but neither does booze, and everybody seems to enjoy that.

Leroy the Redneck Reindeer

2 thoughts on “Navigating the Journey Into Christmas

  1. There were several years between marriages where I would drop my son at his dad’s house and it was so hard to leave him and go back to my family celebration alone. I chose to take that time to go home to our little apartment and just spend some time with myself, quiet Christmas music on the radio, a good book, a crossword puzzle, anything to just separate myself from what I “should” be doing with my day. Wouldn’t you know how much I missed that stolen quiet time once the new husband and subsequent children came along? I’m happy for you that you are in a better space this year than last, and hope you enjoy your time with family and friends.

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