If you've been with me since the beginning, you know this blog is as much for myself as it is for you. I want to be better prepared for Christmas! I want to eke out as much warm holiday enjoyment as possible while shedding the unwanted stress that the hustle and bustle of the season can bring! I want to revel in the lights, music, sugary confections, sappy holiday movies, and warm family and friend gatherings that this season promises. I imagine also spending time gazing solemnly at the sky to reflect on the event that revealed God's love for us, the gift of a Savior. It's the stuff Christmas cards are made of!
Achieving that has been an uphill battle with elements beyond my control. Did I say I achieved it? No, I'm sorry to report I have not. I've been thwarted yet again from achieving my goal! Here's what happened this time:
1. Leaky roof - Rain poured in one day in early fall, staining my ceiling in two places. It took the roofers till a week before Christmas to come and replace part of my roof. The big black roof-trash bin sat in front of my house all weekend. I'm still waiting for the ceiling to be painted.
2. Broken kitchen pipe - an old pipe that ran between the kitchen floor and ceiling of the basement had to be replaced after it cracked and allow water from the kitchen sink to flow through a vent in the basement ceiling and onto the carpeted floor! The 6-ft-long hole in the ceiling is still there—near the fireplace where we always decorate and celebrate Christmas. I finally gave up on expecting the repairs to be done before Christmas. A friend helped me return my furniture to its original spot so that my daughter and I could set up our fireplace trees and hang our stockings, but at less than a week till Christmas, the trees remain bare as my attention is called elsewhere. Which leads me to #3...
3. Crazy work schedule - As a freelancer, I'm never sure what I'm going to be doing, but I count on flexibility. I can work any time of day or night—weekends too, if necessary. My next writing assignment, while lengthy, isn't due until April, so it's not the problem. Deadlines for my editing projects are closer, but by themselves would not have hampered my holiday fun, either. My third flexible job is as a virtual assistant to a voice studio; I've been asked to handle more small projects this month than expected. That has thrown my plans off a little, but when you add in a fourth job, the flexibility vanishes! This fourth job is temporary, taken to help out an old friend as much as to help pay bills. I subbed as his office manager several times last summer and fall, and now I'm in the office again—the week before Christmas (!!!)—while the new hire is away for a Christmas break! This was not the way I planned to spend the week before Christmas, and it has put a major crunch on the time meant for completing other work projects as well as holiday baking and outings. I'm working days, nights, AND weekends!
4. Sick child - My incredibly healthy daughter got sick—and stayed sick! Nothing puts a crimp in your plans faster than a sick family member. She came down with the flu more than a week ago. It knocked her for a loop and made her miss a fun Christmas program. After several days of sleeping, she perked up well enough in the mornings but still wilted early in the day and put herself to bed while other families were still watching Christmas movies and eating popcorn. She has a lingering cough and ear trouble and when given the option of going to see Christmas light displays or staying home, has opted to stay home. I feel so sorry for her—and for me!
5. No big family gathering - I miss those, but I'm not from here and not likely to experience one in this state! My family is 500 miles away, and it's shrinking each year. With our current jobs and financial situation, my daughter and I can't afford to travel to see our remaining relatives, and no one feels able to come see us. On top of that, my son, who has missed two of the last three Christmases with us, has decided to spend this Christmas with his friends—again. So with only my daughter and myself here, there will be no big feast that dreams are made of. It will be a quiet celebration made up of a favorite breakfast, opening of gifts, watching the Disney parade on TV, and perhaps playing some games or doing crafts while Christmas music plays in the background. To my further sorrow, my former husband has decided—for the first time since 1999—to have our daughter spend part of Christmas Day at his house. Not only will I not have that longed-for big family gathering, but I will be alone for part of the day. And car-less too, as he has requested that she drive herself (in my car) to his house 40 minutes away, so I can't even drive to a friend's house! Do you hear those sad violins playing in the background???
Where's that fun Christmas I worked towards all year? Christmas is just a few days away, and if I dwell on it too much, I get emotional. I had high hopes for entertaining friends and making it a Christmas to remember.
While I can't control outside events, I can control my attitude. But, sometimes I don't feel like it. Don't we all get that way? Like a child who has been denied a treat before dinner, I pout. I don't want to shrug, let go, and focus on something else. I want to worry over what I can't have! And what I can't have this year (again) is the fairytale, twinkling Christmas sung about in so many carols. Rather than mope and wish Christmas was over (my first inclination), I will work on adjusting my attitude. I can't change my circumstances, so I need to change my thought pattern. I choose to count my Christmas blessings:
- Jesus loves me, even when I have a bad attitude.
- Lovely weather allowed my daughter and me to enjoy "A Journey Through Bethlehem" this year.
- We got to attend a local Christmas parade.
- Four Christmas parties/events welcomed my presence this month! That may be a personal record! lol (This lifts my spirits. While I tend to be introverted, I do enjoy being included in such things.)
- My newsletter and cards were finished and mailed on time.
- Cards have been coming in the mail each day.
- My daughter got to sing at two events. When she doesn't have the flu, she's a wonderful spreader of glad tidings and Christmas cheer, and I enjoy watching her perform.
- The living room trees were put up and decorated right after Thanksgiving, so I've had them to enjoy.
- Since the delayed roof work prevented me from hanging outside lights, my electric bill won't be very high.
- I mailed my gifts on time. I feel bad when they arrive late to their destination.
- I got the stamps I wanted this year! (Usually by the time I visit the post office, they've run out.)
- I got my shopping done early. (I am a year-round shopper, stashing fabulous finds in a "gift cabinet" until needed. I also earned gift cards through Swagbucks and used those to shop online.)
- My name was pulled in a drawing for a book I wanted this month!
- I developed a recipe for double decker cherry chocolate fudge this month! I plan to enter it in a contest—that's how happy I am with it.
- I still have a house in which to celebrate Christmas, New Year's, and hopefully many more holidays.
- My daughter, when she isn't sick, is generally happy to help me with housework. Of course, she has her moments, as we all do, but on the whole she is a sweet blessing.
- My best friend is a blessing too! She is like a sister to me. I never had a sister, but she's my sister from another mister!
- The cash gifts I've received this month equal my mortgage payment! Now that is a God thing! The last unexpected check caused tears of joy to streak down my face as I realized how they all added up. God loves me and wants me to stop worrying about the future!
- I have such a huge supply of Christmas wrap that I will probably never need to buy more. And gift bags are reusable. *smiles*
- Mom sent me a Christmas stocking with surprises inside so that I don't have to fill my own stocking this year. (There may be nothing more sad than a single parent filling her own stocking on Christmas Eve.) Mom made me promise not to feel around in it! Teehee!