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January 6, 2020

My heart cracked open.

Journal Entry #71

The holidays are upon us.

Which means, so is the stress.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Belize, where this whole journey of Leishmaniasis started.  I was bit by hundreds of sand fleas on Christmas Day…an anniversary that has my body aching and my mind whirling.

Last year, Christmas could have been summed up in one word.

BLISS.

We left on December 18, 2018 which meant that all of our family/friend celebrations and visits were spread out and enjoyed in advance of the actual holidays – with very little stress.  When we were in Belize, we had to keep reminding ourselves that Christmas was coming, that “tomorrow is Christmas Eve…”  It was so relaxed, the sunshine was warm, the kids were content.  There was no hustle.  There was no bustle.  There were no last minute runs to the grocery stores, last minute gifts to buy, no work to cook a big meal, no worrying over how clean the house was, no family politics, no pressure to be somewhere because it was expected of us, no worry that things had to be perfect.  There was a direct interrupt of traditions. There was quite literally, NO stress. And the Rum Punch was amazing!  

Bliss.

Christmas is a hard time of year for so many, and I am no exception to having “feelings” other than happiness and excitement during this season.  It is a time where I miss those who have passed on.  Especially my dad, who died on December 28th, 2001.  And others who were important to me, like Dot (2017),  Laurie (2019), Uncle Gene (2019) and all of my grandparents. It isn’t necessarily a feeling of loss or grief or sadness for me.  It is a remembering or a reflection of their presence in my life and the special things we would do together to celebrate or prepare for the season.

It is a time where I feel pressure to make the holidays perfect for the kids so that ALL they feel is the excitement and happiness.  I know I set an unrealistic expectation of perfection for the holiday season – sending out 100 Christmas Cards, making homemade Christmas chocolates, hosting parties, decorating, making centerpieces, shopping and wrapping parcels, gifts for the neighbors, teachers, helpers…and the list goes on.  I don’t know that I am different than any other woman or mom out there…but I find myself wondering this year, how did it get to this?  Why such a need for perfection?  Why such a tight hold on traditions?  When I reflect back on that first Christmas where Jesus was so humbly laid in the manger I can’t help but think how perfectly imperfect that was.  If the King of Kings was born and celebrated amongst the ox and lamb in a stable, how is it that we have gotten to this place of glitter, expensive gifts and atrocious waste?  What happened to celebrating life and love, just as it is?  Where did this need for perfection and keeping up with the material world come from?

I found myself resenting Christmas this afternoon as I was whipping up my Potatoes Royale.  One kid was in their room on the computer watching Netflix.  One kid was shooting pucks on the net in the driveway.  And my husband was tinkering with last minute Christmas preparations.  And I thought…why?  Why is there so much emphasis on the food?  On the drinks? On the cleanliness? On the games? On the gifts? On having everything just so?  And why was I the only one in the kitchen preparing this meal for 14 people?

Then something happened.  Something that is hard to explain.

It was like an out of body experience, there with the potatoes and I…it was like I was hovering above, watching the madness unfold when I realized that it wasn’t about perfection at all.  I was preparing that meal, for people that I love and cherish.  I was preparing that meal, because that was the “excuse” for the family to get together.  I was working my ass off because it was my way of showing the family that I am thankful for them and that I love them.  It wasn’t something that I HAD to do, it was something that I WANTED to do.  It was then that Canyon came in the door and asked if he could help.

And my heart cracked open.

I have been so emotional lately, crying at everything.  Overwhelmed easily.  Anxious about insignificant things.  And in that moment, when all I wanted to do was throw the towel in and say “fuck it!” this shift and realization hit as if God Himself reminded me of the reason for the season.

There is still time to go before the big day.  I am reminding myself that it isn’t about having a perfect Christmas, it is about being together, enjoying the magic, and celebrating life.  Which, after the year that I have had, is not only important, but essential.

I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me wishing I was on a beach somewhere, making memories with my family, away from the stress of the season.  And one day, I can see us doing Christmas that way again…without the bugs!

That being said, I am happy to have those that I love and those that love me here.  And stress or no stress, the reason for the season is bigger than any perfection or stress or pressure that I put upon myself.

It is all about the LOVE.

Xo Juli

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