I used to dread December.
It was short lived, those years of Holiday-dread, but they were heavy while they lasted. I have come to a new space where I embrace the imperfection that is my family. It's kinda freeing, you know? It took some major processing, some counseling, and some healing to get to the space of embracing..but I'm here. And I'm thankful.
I love my family.
I don't know that I would have said that a few years ago with the confidence I can say it with now. I also don't know many people who are in their 20's-30's and say their entire life/family has been peaches and cream, so I'm just another human walking the earth.
December used to bring me so much angst. Sadness. Grief.
December marked dread. Or more specifically, December 25 did. For a few years while our family was being broken into bits and rebuilt into new fragments, the Holidays represented a chaotic tour of Oregon in 24 hours or less. I shed a lot of tears in the car during those drives to and from different branches of our family, up and down the I5 corridor, mainly because I was exhausted.
Brokenness is exhausting.
But as I said, I have landed in a space of embracing the chaos that is my beautiful family. Something that helps is that we have spread out the family traditions and events and get togethers to the entirety of December, rather than smooshing it all into one 24 hour time period.
My family is no more perfect than yours.
Now, every weekend in December is Christmas. What was once viewed as exhaustion and dreadful has transformed into something I look forward to all year. And for that, I thank my family.
I am thankful the branches of my family decided to claim an entire day or weekend, aside from December 25, for inviting us into their homes to celebrate the holiday. We aren't perfect, we are still a big mess because reality check: we're humans.
We didn't all vote for the same person and we aren't all happy about the outcome. We vary in views of the world and tastes of the tongue and communities for our people. Some of us like mayo while others don't, but none of us like pickles. Sometimes conversations are weird. We all like each other, though, so that's something to hold onto, right?
My family this holiday is no more perfect than yours.
As I became a mama, the traditions we are recreating as branches of my family gather at various times in December, mean so much to me. I cherish these weekends with family more than I ever expected. Memories in the making, you know?
I am learning to dance in the gift of presence, to observe my parents become grandparents and to accept and embrace their [new..is 2 years new?] spouses as my kids' grandparents. I'm loving the bond that is forming between cousins and second cousins and whatever-cousins..so many types of cousins and aunts and uncles and all the parts that come together to make our crazy looking family tree.
As we approach December 25, many presents have already been exchanged, giant meals have been consumed, and my heart has expanded with gratitude. My family may be broken up into different branches, but they are beautiful.
Thank you, family, for loving me and us and for being ours.
Whether you're feeling extra exhausted this Holiday season, lonely and isolated, or straight up joy...I hope you find permission to be exactly where you're at. This time of year, emotions run on high and there is so much to be thankful for, but right alongside the reasons to be grateful is the real life of trauma, grief, and tragedy.
There remains infertility and miscarriage, death of a spouse/child/parent/loved ones, sickness and disease. There remains financial stress, wondering where your next meal may come from, and job frustrations. Marriages strained, relationships crumbling, hearts breaking. There remains the discomforts and trials that living on this earth brings.
As the earth moans and groans because we are here instead of There, Heaven, I hope you find permission to be exactly where you're at. And maybe with the permission to be exactly where you're at, imperfectly existing in a broken world, you will find Hope and Peace that comes from Him.
In the advent, as we look forward to the coming of the baby King, may you remember that despite the aches and pains of this life, He is still coming. He is still entering into the imperfection, He is still bringing glimpses of Heaven to earth. And He sits with us in our spaces of grief, sadness, and joy.
Happy Advent, friends.
Daddy pulling Sage on his first sled ride.