Christmas in July

The proverbial “first Christmas.” He married me…and the cat!

Over the past several days, I have had the opportunity to have some very deep and thoughtful conversations with some really great people. I absolutely love these kinds of conversations and feel so honored when people trust me with even just a smidgen of their personal world. I have friends in my life whom I trust and I firmly believe we need people like this in our lives that we can trust when things just get a little wonky. Because, life does get wonky.

As I was listening to each of these friends, I was thinking (because I process ALL THE TIME) that so many of us go through big life changes that we may not always be up for. I think we all hit some point in our lives when we start to realize that the bigger picture is a lot harder than what we initially thought and when we get there it can be overwhelming and confusing. It is likely that the resources (stuff we used to do to help alleviate the confusion or feeling of being overwhelmed) that we previously used just don’t seem to be as effective as they once were. There are also times when we just feel plain scared to move on and we get kinda stuck in a place that we just don’t like very much. It’s hard to find a ticket out of that place, but eventually we need to pack up and get the heck out. Trust me, I’ve been there. Took the vacation photo with Instagram and posted it to Facebook…then “liked” my own picture.

One day I will share the trilogy (it actually is three parts) that is my dating relationship with my now husband but for now I will start with saying that for a large part of our relationship I was confused more often than not. One Christmas when “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” I was feeling very sad. I was celebrating alone, in my apartment…with my cat. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I had always held off on getting a Christmas tree of my own until I was married – some ridiculous standard I adopted to ensure that my first married Christmas would be spectacular (you can almost taste the impending disappointment can’t you)! I bought into this first married Christmas idea so much that one year I went as far as buying all kinds of fresh garland and wreaths just so I could savor the smell and sights of Christmas without the emotional committment of a tree. I still couldn’t bring myself to buy ornaments – such a legalist! Well as it would be, here I was sitting in my living room hanging out with my cat and being very dramatic about the fact that I would NEVER get married. Halfway through my pity party, I decided to crash it. I crashed my own pity party. Thank goodness I did.

I grabbed my favorite wool cardi (insert single cat lady jokes here) and headed to the Christmas tree lot. It was only two days from Christmas so the pickings were slim. There were either $200 trees or $30 trees. I grabbed one of the scrawny ones asked for a $5 discount and headed on my way. I didn’t have a lot of money (remember, single, cardigan wearing cat lady) but I put about $20 more into a decent set of ornaments (I still hang those on my tree today). When I got home, I decorated the heck out of that little tree, made myself some hot tea and put on my Christmas music. Then I cried. No, I full-out bawled. I cried for all the Christmases that I had allowed myself to go through without feeling like I deserved a tree. I had withheld something good from myself because I was waiting for something “bigger.” Any therapist worth his or her salt would say that is a “no-no” although they might not necessarily say it like that.

I knew there was a bigger picture alright but it didn’t match what I thought it might be. For that moment, that Christmas, my bigger picture was being single. And being the dreamy, hopeless romantic bordering on fantasy person that I am, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations for myself – and that elusive spouse. Without consciously knowing it, I had created a bigger picture of my own. One that included a cottage by the beach, three well-behaved and striking children, a perfect husband and all the time in the world to tuck myself away in a coffee shop reading and writing until I felt like I was done…the end. 

It just doesn’t work like that. Well maybe it does for some folks, but it didn’t work like that for me. And I’m pretty thankful that it didn’t. I learned a lot during that little Christmas with the cat. I learned that first and foremost, I deserved a Christmas tree whether or not I was married (geesh already!). I also learned that trying to see the bigger picture is not as easy as it may seem. There is a reason that God only give us stuff one piece at a time…it’s because it’s usually all we can handle.

Sometimes we just need to look inward (a bit, don’t want to get stuck in there now), show ourselves some grace and know that we deserve the biggest blessings God can dish out. And, you may just want to get yourself a cat for goodness sake. Mine was a true confidant…such a great listener!

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Categories: All The Rest

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