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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Assessing the Holiday Ups and Downs

This holiday season was a doozy.

You ever start out totally gung ho in November and then when November sucks down the drain quicker than you can blink, it's December and you start freaking out because there is so much you need/want to fit in? 

What was weird about this year is the ups were accompanied with downs or at least downer elements.

I entertained family so they could get out of the usual chaotic setting and really busted my butt to make a nice dinner/dessert but I could tell they weren't digging what I made which made all of the exhaustion that I put on my Virgo self feel like it wasn't appreciated.  It wasn't until 3 weeks later that I was told they both enjoyed being out of the usual setting and had a good time.  So it felt nice to be acknowledged but I will think twice about going to the kind of trouble and expense I did.  I think they'd be just as happy out to dinner and I wouldn't have to kill myself getting ready and putting all of the touches I like.  But the Mr and I did have a nice time afterward looking at Christmas lights.

I love baking and this year put that love to the test because I did it six times.   I know the few I truly enjoy doing it for appreciated it.  (Woodsy!)  Because I'm a dork, I didn't think to batch bake cookies with like baking times until the last two times I did it.  (Like all 350 degree cookies in the bottom oven on three sheets and the two 375 degree recipes in the top oven on the commercial size sheet.)  I would've been done in like 90 minutes over 4 hours.  Planning has got to be key and I've got notes down for the future which probably won't be this year since we're out of town over the holidays.

Holiday gatherings started on a good note with Thanksgiving being the best and most having people pretty jolly, the second gathering being a little less enthusiastic but still good and Christmas being so so but reminding us why we won't be here for it this year which already brings down my stress levels.  I was appreciative of the good times we had and disappointed people couldn't keep their issues to themselves on the day it counts most.  I have to accept that they will continue to deal with crap the way they always have and I will deal with it in a way that brings me peace to enjoy the season.

Another thing I have to accept is that Grandma is coming to the end of her time on this Earth and it was never more apparent than Christmas Day.  Anyone who has ever gone through dementia (or any terminal disease) knows that there comes a point where you pray for them to go peacefully in the night so that their suffering is over.  I said my goodbyes about 2 years ago and at this point, all I want is two or three sentimental things and I'm done.  Both the Mr and I are done with her husband as his true colors became evident quite early and once she's gone, I will truly have no reason to talk to him.  If there is anything good that can come from her situation it's that the Mr and I had a lot of talks about what we do and don't want should we ever find ourselves in the same God awful position.

We had my best friend visit and it was the first time I've seen her in about 18 months.  We had a lot of time to gripe about each others family crap, talk about the things that are going good, commiserate over Star Wars stuff, open gifts and eat a good meal together.  It was a perfect visit and the only downer was the time warp that meant it was time for her to go too soon.

I had a reunion with family I hadn't seen in years, some in over 30 years.  I will do a separate post on this but I was also reminded why I don't see some of them...ever.  You ever see family members and think "if I didn't look like them, I would swear I'm adopted." 

I really hated feeling by the time Christmas rolled around that I was just too exhausted to feel a whole lot of holiday spirit.  On the upside, I was very happy to see the Mr was surprised to get his R2D2 that Santa got him.  That little bastard cost what our entire budget usually is for each other but he's done so much to help me on the work end of things, I try to make sure he knows his work is appreciated.  I also told him not to get used to the extravagance.  LOL  But watching him roll him around the house and call him "buddy" and smile and say he truly felt like a kid at Christmas again was worth it.

A weather "up" was getting some snow.  We got a spit on Christmas Eve and I don't think we qualified as a true white Christmas but I'll take what I can get.  We've gotten a few inches since the holiday but just enough that there isn't a snowshoe base and if there is,  it's like 5 out there and too dangerous to do it.

I saved up a gift certificate I had to try this vibroacoustic therapy I'd been hearing about for the 29th.  It was with the same lady I had this other therapy with for one session and she's a talker.  I made it pretty clear as we were heading down that I had a stressful holiday season and was looking forward to laying back and totally relaxing.  She saw fit to start her yammering about keto, going to the gym, her boob rash that has been improved with dry brushing and her insurance...for 30 effing minutes.  Finally I said "I'm just warning you, I can feel myself slipping so don't be surprised if I don't answer you" and she's like "I can be quiet now."  Okay, why do you need to be in there with me at all??  It was very relaxing once she shut her keto hole but since she insists on being present for that stuff, I doubt I'll do it again.  Just go listen to Liquid Mind or Yellow Brick Cinema on YouTube and you'll get the same effect mentally.

My other work stuff got a major boost just before the holiday and now all of the work-aheads I did are coming to an end.  I have no choice but to get back to full steam ahead and I suppose that has always lingered in my head all holiday season,  Anyone who is self employed knows that you really never have time off and a "normal" workday is a thing of the past.  It can be the hardest job with the longest hours you've ever had for the least amount of money.  (I'm typing this on NYE which is on a Sunday and many have the day off and yes, I worked Christmas Day too here and there.)  Your mind is always thinking on ways to get ahead and though I've bought some blogging and YouTubey kind of classes, finding ways to fit it in and not lose my mind has proven challenging.  It's also funny how your family and close "IRL" friends rarely read or support you when you're self employed because if you're not in a cubical, it's not a "real" job.  I had to empathize when I watched some movie about a writer and he was with his family on Christmas and they were wowed over his recipe and he said "hello, it was in my book."  They all looked at each other and they're like "yeah, none of us reads your books."  That's what makes you appreciate the ones that do suppport you all the more.

For me the biggest down was failing miserably on the food front.  We haven't weighed in for 2 weeks because our distended bellies are enough to tell us that it's bad.  I have been emotionally eating my way through the downs so starting the 22nd, I just said screw it.  The ONLY thing to stop it from going totally off the rails is we did make sure we exercised every day.  It didn't make a huge dent because as they say, you can't out exercise a bad diet.  Now, we're like everyone else in the diet boat.  I'm tired of feeling full and disgusting all the time.  Sigh.

What were some of your holiday season highs and lows?

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  1. We took back our holidays many years ago. The first year we traveled. That broke the ties. The next year we went to friends instead of Family for thanksgiving and we have been doing that ever since. Probably 8-10 years now. So now we do what we want for Xmas also, and enjoy it. (Which means almost no extended family, Just immediate family).

    As I read what you wrote, I have a suggestion. Only do Family for one holiday and travel for the other, every year. So next year do family thanksgiving, travel for Xmas. The year after that, travel for thanksgiving, Family for Xmas. If you see them less, they might be nicer when you do.

    I have simplified my cooking immensely. Many years ago I made a list of all the thanksgiving dishes I was making. Then I passed the list to Family and asked for stars next to what they cared about/wanted. Many dishes received NO stars.

    We also do two meals a day over holidays (all of us) and that helps hugely. I still have college kids, so the holiday thing rolls on for a couple weeks.

    (Are you sure the people you are baking for really want it? If someone gave it to me, I would seem appreciative, but I would actually wish they had not.)

    1. That is great that you're found a schedule that works for you for the holidays! I know much of the change in holiday mood is due to caregiver issues and having to squeeze way too many people into a space that can't accommodate everyone. Christmas day was awesome food wise because I didn't bake a dang thing. (I learned a few years ago everyone is on sweets burnout by then so I haven't bothered).

      The only person I baked for that didn't specifically request it was someone whose dad just died, the dough was already made and I knew baking would be the last thing she'd want to do so that was a sad, special circumstance.

      Thats a good idea on the stars by dishes thing for those who host. I've gotten wrangled into mashed potatoes the past two years and I'm going to tap out on that one. It's too much to try to get It together, keep it warm and travel with it. If they don't like it, a KFC is up the street! Ha!

  2. Happy New Year!
    The high point of my Christmas was having my eldest not depressed for the first time in more years than I can remember. After struggling for years he made the decision to medicate and I couldn't be happier with the results. Another high point is I had 2 of my 4 brothers here on the 26th. The lowest point was my brother commiting himself to the mental ward. He is bipolar and went off the rails. So sad and I feel helpless when I comes to him.
    I'm glad the season is over and looking forward to a great year.

    1. That is great news he found meds that are helpful to him! So wonderful you could have some of your brothers there to share the Christmas spirit! I'm sorry to hear about the brother having to be committed. Hopefully he can get the help he needs to be well going forward.

  3. I'm happy the season is finished too. Lots of good, lots of not-so-good ... time to undo and get back to my old normal (with a few upgrades, hopefully LOL) Happy 2018!

    1. Funny how the season tends to bring a steady ebb and flow. Even the most wonderful time of the year isn't immune. (Or it tends to ramp up! LOL). Here's to getting back to it!

  4. Every holiday season has these ups and downs but some years I guess we're either more immune, or numb. I think our plan to travel every other year is going to give us a sense of change without changing everything for good and that will help us to appreciate the good times better, perhaps. All I know now is that I am ready to move on from this one and get back to it!

    1. Yes they do and there is a wonderful peace you get if you're dealing with someone's crap on Thanksgiving on a travel year because in your head you're thinking "I don't have to listen to this on Christmas!" Why didn't we start this like 5 years ago? Ha!

  5. I think my biggest down was committing way too much time and effort into things that I shouldn't have. I went overboard in some ways and literally every single weekend and Monday I was running all over town delivering things or fitting in social plans that I really wasn't up for. I told the hubs that I wasn't going to do that anymore because by mid-December I was completely drained and my house was a disaster from piles of crap everywhere. I think I was trying to force things into "merriment" and the more I did that, the less merry I felt. lol I need to learn more about balance. Do you watch The Middle? Sue did the Year of Sue (which was hilarious) and I've taken my own version of that and am calling 2018 The Year of Simplifying. Truly making a daily effort to get rid of excess anything - food, papers, junk, thoughts. Whatever it is that weighs me down, I want to remove it. It'll take a lot of work, but when I look back on my life I think of how often I half-assed things and then wondered why nothing changed. Does this mean my life will be grand? No. But if I can "unclutter" those areas that cause me stress or grief, then that's positive change right there. Over the weekend I cleaned out two kitchen cupboards (that wasn't planned, but was bothering me) and I felt great afterwards. I didn't allow myself to overthink or second-guess myself and just pitched what needed pitching. So that's a start. lol

    1. That can be a big issue especially that time of year. We know we only have a certain amount of time and want to do so much to make others happy or feel special that we end up on the back burner. (Hell, kinda more like behind the stove behind the gas line with 2 year old crumbs we didn't know were there) I think your goal for the new year is a good one and I hope to join you on that. I spend much of 2017 looking around at the bursting seams of the house putting off doing anything about it until after the holidays. Here we are. :-|

    2. I had a year where I took care of ten things a day in a very messy three car garage. Ten a day was doable. And steady progress. When I got near the end my husband helped me over a weekend and we cleaned and scrubbed.

      I also am a big believer in cleaning out one drawer at a time approach. whether it is a drawer or cupboard a day or a week, it gets it done without making yourself crazy.

      I also get my holiday stuff done by thanksgiving. Whatever I decide to do that year - decorations, pictures, cards, gifts, notes, boxes ready to ship, guest beds and baths ready. (We go out of town for thanksgiving and I never cook.) This has made a huge difference for me. I enjoy the holidays and company so much more.

  6. I am back on the wagon again after about 4 months of a feeding frenzy. Christmas especially was bad including all last week as I ate anything g and everything to "get it out of the house before D-Day, aka Jan. 2." I too am sick and tired of feeling uncomfortably stuffed and guilty. So time to get this regain back off AGAIN!!

    1. Isn't it funny how we do that? "Let's get it out of the house...and into our bellies!" LOL I'm guilty too, girl! But let's be thankful that we have the desire of getting back to the way we were instead of giving up completely! I'm sure we're in good wagon company!


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