Tomorrow is December. Every year, I'm amazed by how quickly the holiday season arrives. Like, wasn't it just July?
This year, I'm surprised to find myself feeling...good. Calm, even. The holidays have been a minefield for me ever since my mother died when I was 25. For a long time, I tried to do things she had always done as a way to honor her memory and to try to comfort myself. I would bake the cookies she baked, be sure to put up her nativity set, watch White Christmas on a loop, wrap all gifts with a flourish, and work hard to keep my family together.
Last year, I didn't put up any decorations in my own house. I didn't bake cookies. I just didn't have it in me. I was still working to recover from my deepest bout with depression and I couldn't seem to make myself do much of anything except sleep and eat junk food (and, let's be honest, watch White Christmas on a loop).
Two things that are giving me hope that this year I won't have to succumb to despair:
1) I finished all of my Christmas shopping before December 1st
2) I am actually looking forward to hosting my whole big blended family for a holiday weekend
So far, I've put up two Christmas trees, the nativity, my bottle brush tree village, and I even changed the cloth on my kitchen table to be seasonally appropriate. This is huge progress. All that's left is to wrap gifts and I'd like to bake some cookies this year. Not too many cookies, but a few.
I also have big plans to embrace hygge this winter: no more sad evenings spent in bed wishing I weren't so bummed about the winter months. Instead, I'm gonna load up on throw blankets, warm socks, hot cocoa, and maybe a whole stack of cozy mysteries. Doesn't that sound nice? Who wouldn't want to spend a winter doing that?
What is really bolstering me this year, though, is the (finally) successful combination of medication and therapy that I've found. It would be foolish to pretend that it was some magical reason that I'm feeling so much better, more engaged, and less anxious. It feels strange to admit, but I really have worked hard to get to this place where I'm not dreading something horrible around every corner, to not spend every moment in bed, to not feel utterly isolated. It's a comfort to me that this hard work has paid off. I'm not saying I won't still have a meltdown if my pie doesn't set up correctly, but I am saying that the meltdown will not derail my whole holiday celebration. It'll come and then it'll go and I'll pick up a frozen pie at Safeway and I'll survive.
The holidays are brutal. I'm feeling better, but I know so many others are feeling terrible. I hope they know they're not alone. I hope they know that things can improve, will improve. I hope they know that hard work does pay off.
Honestly, I never could have imagined I'd feel this relaxed about the holiday season. Here's hoping I haven't jinxed it!