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Not the Christmas I Had Planned

Uncategorized Dec 28, 2021

I distinctly remember a few holidays past.


One Christmas, many moons ago, I had 2 young, toddler-ish girls.


It was 1 pm on Christmas Eve and we had already completed everything I had planned until we opened a few gifts after dinner. 


I was bored out of my mind.


It was supposed to be a very festive day and here we were with nothing to do.


The girls were crawling all over me with excitement in their adorable sequined dresses, and perfect baby curls.


I did not know what to do with them.


We brought gifts to the neighbors.

We decorated cookies.

We painted our nails. 

We sang carols.


All before noon and there were hours and hours to go before bedtime.


I opened a bottle of wine as a sigh of relief and we started playing a card game.


I was literally bored out of my mind.


I loved my darling daughters so very much, but I did not want to play 6 hours of Go Fish.


The wine, although a bit too early in the day, seemed like an emergency floatation device in a vast ocean with no shore in sight. 


I was concerned about how I would both sip my wine and also stay sane, sober, and responsible through the evening. 


Once I started drinking, I never stopped. 

I knew this about myself even  if I didn’t have a so-called alcohol problem.


Another holiday several years ago was my first Christmas, after my

 “Three in a Row Eulogy Years”, a truly sorrowful time I don’t wish on anyone. 


I remember hearing the song “Angels Among Us” by Alabama come through my speakers as I was finishing the final preparations. 


I was so caught off guard with grief and pain that I didn’t know how I would make it through. 


I just wanted to sit and sob in front of the tree.

I did for minute, before I told myself to just get over it and stop acting like such a lunatic.


I was honoring the people I had lost, as best I could, with special ornaments, interweaving their seasonal pictures with my holiday decor, and reaching out to others who were missing them too. 


But still. 


The stabbing of the heart feeling of loss would not leave me.


It was hard to put one foot in front of the other those years and this holiday was full of sadness and loss. 


I couldn’t handle it. 


My intense emotions seemed too dramatic for even me. 


I was so grateful to open my bottle of red and let the wave of relief come over me. 


I could stop being so hard on myself. 


I could push this to the side for a minute and try to focus on my optimistic and enthusiastic elementary school aged girls in front of me. 


I felt so weak. 

I had no resilience. 

I was surprised at my inability to get over these losses. 


I considered myself a strong person who has made it through tough times before and in this moment I was so weak. 

I had nothing left. 

I felt like I was falling over with just a slight breeze and unable to stand tall.


I was, of course, also completely exhausted. 


From the holiday prep to the over drinking indulgence of holiday celebrating and my own daily alcohol habit, I was completely depleted. 


I was happy to be drunk and passed out by 9 pm so I could wake up at 3 am and play Santa. 


This was my job as a Mom. 


To pull myself out of bed to be of service even when it is killing me. 

I had been doing it since the day the girls were born. 


I remember one Christmas morning with my girls in their Disney Princess Flannel Jammies and curly bed heads just waiting for Dad to get back from Starbucks with my coffee so we could open  gifts. 


Their excited giggles and precious morning breath leave me no personal space. 


When my Dear Husband walked through the door and I took my first sip of coffee I was surprised that even this delicious nectar of the God’s did nothing to take my hangover away. 


I was hot and shaky. 


I absolutely hated myself. 


I smiled and nodded as the girls ripped open their presents, but it was all I could do to keep myself from vomiting. 


This is not how I wanted my Christmas mornings to play out. 


All my life I had played house and dreamt of having baby girls to spoil and love and here I was living out my dreams with a hangover that sucked so bad I could hardly sit up. 


Who had I become?


This Christmas I planned on hosting my in-laws. 

I had a perfect menu planned for weeks. 

I had borrowed a punch bowl from a neighbor. 

My house was decorated better than ever. 

I was thrilled to set my Christmas table.


Then we got exposed to COVID.


It was fine because after an hour on hold seeking results, the results came and were negative. 


So I continued about my last minute shopping and prepping.

And then I got sick.


So I got another COVID test and after 3 ½ hours on hold without results they told me their system was down, but I could in person for results. 

So I went in person and it was closed. 


So I rested and the next day I spent 2 hours on hold with no results again.


And everything was closed and there was no way to get another test, and regardless of whether it was COVID or not the right thing to do was to cancel my Christmas gathering and even though it was the right thing to do, I was crushed.


I don’t know how to be sick. 

I don’t know how to let myself be down and out.

I don’t know how to slow down and not hustle.

I don’t know how to not blame myself or be taken care of. 


Then there was a shooting at our local mall. 

Basically, all of our home away from home. 

My teenage kids hang out there all the time, and it’s where my gym/spa is. 


We had family members who were there just an hour before the shooting and neighbors who were in lockdown in the department store.


My kids could hardly be scared because they’ve been doing active shooter drills at school since they started. 

If they actually took any of this seriously they would be too scared to ever leave the house. 


No one we know was hurt, thank goodness.


It was starting to feel like the worst Christmas ever.

I am sober now. 

Almost 4 years. 


I was feeling better, but still keeping my distance from my family, which felt incredibly lonely. 


Then the best thing happened. 


My husband and my daughters took care of the meal and the clean up. 


I sat in a corner and allowed myself to be served and taken care of. 


I watched movies and finished a book. 


I napped on and off. 


The dinner got made. 

The dishes got done. 

Christmas wasn’t ruined. 


My family spoiled me with gifts, and they appreciated the ones I gave to them. 

I learned how to receive love this year. 

I learned how to let go. 

I learned how to be taken care of. 


This is not an easy lesson for a martyr like me. 

I tend to micromanage everything. 


This year I received the most beautiful gift of all. 

The gift of being held by a safety net. 

The gift of letting go and being caught.

The gift of being taken care of.


I am so grateful.

For my sobriety, for my relationship with my family, for my lessons learned. 

It was not the Christmas I had planned, but it was a beautiful Christmas that I will never forget.


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