I always have a bit of a holiday let down. December is a big month for me: the start of ski season, my birthday, and of course, Christmas. Add in teaching junior high during this month full of expectation, and by the time Dec. 31 rolls around, I’m done.
In other words, I’m not a big New Year’s Eve fan.
I think the last time I actually went to a big New Year’s Eve party was in 1995 when I was pregnant with my first child.
I remember the millenium, taking down the Christmas decorations while the news blasted from my 9-inch black and white tv. I remember it well. Then, I had a three-year-old daughter AND a three-month old son. Fun times.
Needless to say, this New Year’s Eve I don’t anticipate much action, other than dinner with my now thirteen-year-old son, some quiet reflection time, maybe a cold beer, and, of course, some writing.
What I’ve also learned this year is that if I flip the holidays around, they don’t have to bring me down. In fact, I’ve learned that a few things about the holidays never go out of season, they instead are cultivated all year long:
This year we simplified the holidays. We cut back to the most important and meaningful traditions, and enjoyed the spirit behind the season. My daughter noted that there wasn’t a day when we didn’t have holiday music playing in the background. We didn’t miss a chance to sing along with “Feliz Navidad” or Taylor Swift’s “Sounds of the Season”. I learned that holiday spirit alive doesn’t mean leaving up the Christmas tree until spring; rather, embracing the simple, the fun, and the merry all year long is the route to happiness.
Getting Back to Roots
As a parent, I feel obligated to put my children first. Always. The holiday season cements these feelings – isn’t Christmas ‘for the kids’ anyways? No, I don’t consider myself a martyr, but rather, I see parenting as a huge commitment. And in order to do it ‘right’, I need to take it seriously. However, in 2012, I realized that I can take myself seriously, too. I’ve wanted to write professionally since I can remember. I studied English during college, and once I graduated, my writing stayed hidden inside journals. This year I learned that getting back to my roots meant taking a chance and being vulnerable. Last year, writing brought passion back to my life, along with courage, happiness, sadness, and stories, too.
This year I adored watching my children plan and purchase their gifts for others. With the innocence of children, they worked hard to find just the right gift for just the right person. Listening to them exclaim that they ‘cannot wait for me to open it’ made my heart beam. And despite all the tragedy of Sandy Hook, we learned that we can pay it forward. As my son and I participated in #26Acts, he declared it ‘awesome-just like a treasure hunt’ except in reverse. We didn’t finish all 26 by Christmas, but that’s more than ok; as we give freely in 2013, we hope others will be inspired to freely give.
I actually didn’t attend one holiday party this year. I prefer to keep it quiet, keep it simple, and keep it at home. So much of our lives is spent out in public that for me, the holiday season is a perfect time to spend with family. That’s not to say that good friends aren’t part of our equation, but simply, in a different, more personal way. I still send Christmas cards, and rejoice with each envelope that comes through our mailbox. In 2012 my list of friends grew in ways I could never have predicted; I met teachers from all over the country, new friends in Indonesia, and grew to know writers online from around the world. Good friends aren’t just honored during the holidays, they are nurtured all year long.
So I wish you all a happy and healthy 2013, the comfort of family and friends, and the courage to do what you never thought you could.
I’ll drink to that!