The hustle and bustle of the holiday season excites and invigorates many people every year.  Baking treats, traveling to visit friends and/or relatives, shopping for gifts, wrapping said gifts, exchanging the same said gifts, mailing Christmas cards and packages, cooking meals, decorating the house and at least one Christmas tree (I would decorate three Christmas trees each year while I was growing up:  the big one in the living room, my tree in my bedroom, and my grandparents’ tree in their living room), and planning get-togethers make up the typical holiday schedule for most people.

However, just the mere thought of these festivities that give to pleasure to many people also suck the life out of just as many others.  Maybe you don’t like to bake but have to help with it, anyway.  Maybe you dread family time because you’re dealing with a loss, or you’re not looking forward to seeing certain relatives.  Maybe you can’t afford to shop for gifts or send Christmas cards.  Maybe recipes for Christmas meals might as well be written in a foreign language, decorating isn’t your thing, and get-togethers with lots of people make your skin crawl.

This year, I am one of those people who has had the life sucked out of her by the above mentioned activities.

It was somewhat expected.  Christmas last year was rough, and as expected, this one hasn’t been a highlight, either.  For my sanity’s sake, I’ve kept the baking, traveling, shopping, wrapping, exchanging, mailing, cooking, decorating, and planning to a minimum this year.  I’d planned on going to my aunt and uncle’s house for their annual Christmas Eve party for dinner and my church’s 11:00 candlelight service, both of which are–at most–a 10 minute drive from the house, but a splitting headache that I’d had all day forced me to stay home on the couch all afternoon and evening while my mom and brother went to my aunt and uncle’s party.

I turned off the Christmas music that my mom had been blaring (she’ll deny that it was blaring 🙂 ), covered myself with two fleece blankets, took off my glasses, curled up on the couch, and gladly welcomed the second wave of sleep that was about to hit me, hoping that it would squelch the throbbing pain that made my head feel ten pounds heavier than it was supposed to.  However, I woke up a short while later, my headache just as bad as ever.

Since sleep was out of the question for a while, I went to my room and got my iPod, colored pencils, new coloring book, journal, favorite pens, and a few books to keep myself occupied in the living room.  (I preferred sleeping in my bed, but I needed to keep an ear open for any mischief that my two dogs, Dusty and Kirby, might get into.  Thankfully, they were in the mood to nap in the living room, too, at least part of the time.)  Reading was somewhat difficult with the headache, so I decided to work on the picture I started in my coloring book earlier this week.  (Stay tuned for a blog post on that.)

While coloring the kaleidoscopic design printed in my coloring book, I soaked in the silence of the evening.  No loud music.  (I never did listen to my iPod last night.)  No TV.  No radio.  No ringing phone.  (I left it on, but no one texted or called.)  Just the hum of the timer for the living room light, the pencil strokes on the paper as I colored, and the occasional jingle of Dusty and Kirby’s dog tags when they stood up a few times to ask to be let out.  (They really do ask.  It’s the look in their eyes.  🙂 )

It was the first time all day that I could actually hear myself think.  I relished the chance to enjoy simple pleasures, to reflect, to pray for people I love dearly, to journal, to enjoy my dogs’ company, and to slow down from all of the holiday hustle and bustle.   Despite being home alone with what my mom wondered was a migraine headache (I don’t think it was bad enough to be called that), it felt like I was truly celebrating for the first time all day.

I’ve never been against all of the activities mentioned earlier in this post, but to me, they aren’t worth stressing over.  It baffles some people how little I socialize, attend parties, shop for gifts (I try to make unique gifts instead…”try” being the key word here), create a Christmas list (I can’t remember the last time I made one, because the “things” I really want can’t be bought), or eat fancy food.  I appreciate those things, but I don’t need them to celebrate and be happy.

As you make your way through the rest of this festive time of year, I hope you take some time to celebrate how you want to, even if other people think it’s weird.  I hope you’ll take time just to breathe and soak in everything God has given us, not just at Christmastime, but every day of the year.  I hope you’ll spend time with the people you love and relish every second of it.  I hope you listen to your favorite Christmas songs and spend time with people you love, but I also hope you’ll spend some time in silence, away from other people, to do whatever you need to do to maintain your sanity.  If you’re planning get-togethers or trying to find that perfect gift for the person who’s hard to buy for, don’t stress about it too much.  Your time and love mean more to people than how the turkey was cooked or what you bought them for Christmas.  And if anyone is upset over your genuine efforts, don’t blame yourself.  Maybe they need to change their perspective.

Today, Christmas Day, has been less than ideal, but I’m still thanking God for what He has given today and before now.  I did spend time with some people today, but I’ve had a hefty amount of alone time today, too.  I just finished watching Little Women (one of my favorite movies; watching this movie every Christmas break has been a tradition for me since I was 21).  The day is winding down, and I need to get ready for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, all.  Merry Christmas.  Goodnight.

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