I have never been a huge Christmas person. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping for people, I love seeing my family (and now my in-laws) and I love seeing my step-kids, two niece’s and nephew’s face when they open presents. But I’ve never been one to like the music or that does a lot of decorating. Halloween is where it is at for me. I kind of missed out on Halloween this year, besides being able to go with my niece and get the cutest picture in the world. I didn’t get to do our annual party at mom’s house with the tons of trick or treaters etc. It is also my wedding anniversary, so that sweetens the deal for me even more. I couldn’t fully enjoy it, as I was recently diagnosed with my bipolar and was not yet stable. I was still really depressed and had a hard time even doing my decorations. Normally they go up on September 1st, and I didn’t get them up until October. Unheard of. Anyway, I digress.
I’ve not been as enthusiastic about Christmas during my adult life. I gave it the ol’ college try when I got my step-kids, as I got to experience the joy through them when they were little and we drove through the park that has the light show. I finally got to see how exciting it was to see their little faces light up when they got a really neat Santa gift. I loved helping them make lists for Santa. And this year, I had the MOST fun when I got to take my niece and nephew to go shopping for their parents and they saw Santa. I love seeing my two nieces and nephew more than I can even explain. Besides my love for my step-kids, I didn’t know you could love little people so much. Oh look, I digress again.
Christmas not being my favorite, I’ve tried really hard to be Christmas-y this year. I did a bunch of Christmas crafts with my free time, spending time with Evaline doing them, which is the best anyway. I got a lot of lights up this year outside, including the obnoxious blow up decorations (which I actually love in my yard). I had fun going all out this year. I planned for it last year by hitting up thrift shops and clearance sales and getting a Christmas village as well as the outdoor decorations. I still didn’t have the energy to put all of my outdoor lights out, but I did a ton more than normal. I made two wreaths for friends and did two separate Christmas trees. One is my decorative tree, and the new one is what I call my “nostalgia” tree.
Every year since 2010 my mother has gotten us an ornament with the date on it. Then when I married Connor, my in-laws all exchange adorable ornaments in a family tradition that has a different meal at each progressive house in one day, starting with breakfast at my house. We end with dessert at my sister-in-law’s. We call it the roundie round and it’s very fun. It’s one of my new favorite traditions; I love picking out the ornaments for everyone. So, because I had gotten so many of these in the past few years, I needed a new tree for them all.
I went all out this year (for me). Connor loves Christmas and says every year that he feels like he misses the entire season, that it goes by so quickly and this is why I have tried so hard to be a Christmas person. I still can’t do Christmas music except the 3 days before Christmas though. I just can’t.
My point in all this, is even though I am a nervous wreck of anxiety with being around so many people all at once, I’m learning to enjoy the season. I still am super anxious when I’m at either family’s house and there is a cacophony of sound and voices and people moving around and enjoying themselves. I get so nervous that the presents I picked out won’t be appreciated, though I try really hard to be thoughtful for every gift. I dread taking down and storing all of the decorations; that’s so much work. And now that my step-kids are teens, they are just hard to shop for in general. They want gift cards and money, and that’s just no fun to shop for. It’s mentally exhausting to prepare for everything, making sure I have each present ready to go in the right box to the right house. Making sure I get the kid’s mother a present too that is thoughtful. My house being utterly spotless for the visiting families (my whole family came over to my house today, including my Grampa and I loved it so much even though I was an anxious ball of nerves).
I think a reason that I’m so happy to be full of Christmas this year is that I’m finally stable. I don’t feel depression like I used to. I’m not FULLY stable, I still get some mood swings unexpectedly, but compared to the rest of my adult life, I’m the picture of stability. I’m grateful my wreck didn’t hurt anyone else and that I made it through the inpatient ward with my diagnosis. I’m so lucky to have my group therapy and that my work let me off for so long so that I could heal. I’ve never been one to feel very grateful, depression usually squashes that right out of you. But this year, I truly feel so grateful for so many things, there are so many people who have so little. Especially those who have mental illnesses like mine. Many aren’t as lucky to have such an amazing two families that love me despite my illness and love me like they do. My in-laws accepted my diagnosis and were just worried about me; they all reached out to me and told me to call them if I ever needed anything. I was so floored and so touched. I didn’t expect it. My sisters just took it in stride and didn’t blink an eye. They loved me as fiercely as ever. I’ve even been able to get closer to my middle sister than in any of our adult life. I love them all more than I can even explain.
Even Connor and I are better than we have been in years. We play and tease and flirt. All in all, I’ve enjoyed Christmas this year much more than I did Halloween. Everything was too raw then. Now it’s a Wonderful Life. 😊
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone. Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey with me.